Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Posts about Adrian Peterson

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: July 29

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 29, 2014 - 8:23 AM

Every day On most days, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening that day.

We have a long way to go until the Vikings’ position battles are settled. But of all the position groups, the linebacker situation is easily the one with the least clarity four days into camp.

Take last night’s practice for example. One second you see No. 52, 54 and 57 on the field together. Then you look up and No. 55 is out there with some first-teamers in the blitz period. Then you see No. 50 or 56 or 58 getting sprinkled in with the first or second team.

Whoops, you just blinked and missed another combination.  

“We are rotating a lot of different guys in a lot of different areas,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said a couple of days ago, adding, “We like the competition, we like the guys that we have got, we know it will work itself out in the end.”

My best early guess: Chad Greenway will be one starter, and could either be in the middle or at one outside linebacker spot. Mike Zimmer loves him some Anthony Barr, so I bet we see him starting on the outside, though a job isn’t going to be handed to him. As for that third spot in the base defense, your guess is as good as mine right now. What do you say we just throw some darts?

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- TE Kyle Rudolph and the Vikings envision a bright future together.

--- RB Adrian Peterson thinks the Vikings offense will be much less predictable.

--- The Vikings had a spirited practice under the lights last night.

--- Rookie CB Jabari Price is learning to play with better technique instead of relying on speed.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Could Jimmy Clausen be the Bears’ backup quarterback?

--- The Lions have called off contract talks with DT Ndamukong Suh.

--- Pass rusher Julius Peppers is settling in with the Packers.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

Today is a scheduled off day for Vikings players, and for us, too. Time to catch up on laundry.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

We have yet to see a Vikings quarterback throw an interception in team drills through the first four days of training camp. And yes, before you ask, that’s including Christian Ponder. What are we to make of that? I guess it depends on whether you are a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty guy or gal. On one hand, offensive coordinator Norv Turner has stressed ball control, so the lack of picks is a good thing. But Zimmer wants his defensive backs to contest passes, and while they have done a decent job deflecting passes and jarring them from receivers, interceptions are even better.

Kyle Rudolph talks about signing new Vikings deal

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 28, 2014 - 1:14 PM

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, who signed a five-year extension with the team, just took a quick shower while we talked to Adrian Peterson after the morning walkthrough -- no word on whether he dried himself off with crisp new $100 bills -- then met us to talk about his new deal.

“It’s a dream true, to walk off the practice field and have Rick [Spielman call me over] and give me a big hug and say, ‘Congratulations. You earned it. We’re extremely happy to have you here for the next six years.’” Rudolph said. “Right there I couldn’t thank him enough. Publicly, I can’t thank him, the Wilf family, everyone involved to keep me here for the next six years.”

Rudolph said that negotiations with the Vikings started to pick up a couple of weeks ago. His agent, Brian Murphy, flew into the Twin Cities the day of the MLB All-Star Game and over the next two days started to build the framework of the deal with Spielman and cap guru Rob Brzezinski. Last night, after practice, Rudolph put pen to paper to make the deal official.

Now, Rudolph, a 24-year-old who was the Pro Bowl MVP in 2012, has to live up to it.

“No one is going to motivate me more than I motivate myself,” he said. “No one is going to have higher expectations than I have of myself. And that’s to be the best. I’m going to continue to go out there every day, work the way that I do to become the best tight end in this league.”

So is Rudolph going to treat himself to something nice? His first purchase will not be a new house or truck. He’s fine with the ones he’s got. No, he is going to keep a promise to his high school strength coach by helping to put in a new weight room at Elder High in Cincinnati. Pretty cool.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: July 27

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 27, 2014 - 7:36 AM

Every day On most days, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening that day.

Finally, the Vikings are breaking out the pads.

The first two days of Camp Zimmer felt like a couple of spring workouts with the players in shells doing non-contact drills. But things will heat up in Mankato today with the first full-padded practice of Zimmer’s tenure. We in the media are certainly excited to see some contact, and that anticipation pales in comparison to what the coaching staff is feeling. During his news conference yesterday, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards pointed out at least a half dozen times that he couldn't draw too many conclusions about players and competitions until he saw them in pads.

That doesn’t mean there will be huge hits left and right. Zimmer -- who must walk the line between running an aggressive, physical camp and keeping his players healthy -- said he wants it to be “thud” contact only, not tackling to the ground. Oh, and "Adrian won't get tackled,” he added.

Still, with the players in pads starting today, we’ll start to see guys distinguish themselves.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- Whether he is saying it publicly or not, Teddy Bridgewater is preparing to be the guy.

--- Adrian Peterson’s pass protection is being praised by the new staff.

--- Captain Munnerlyn keeps proving doubters wrong.

--- The offense struck back during yesterday’s training camp practice.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Bears DE Jared Allen had some interesting things to say about his time with the Vikings.

--- Packers WR Jordy Nelson got his big day, but will there be any left for WR Randall Cobb?

--- Lions QB Matthew Stafford is entering a new phase in his career.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings will hold their walkthrough from 10:30 until 11:30 a.m. Practice will run from 3 to 5:10 p.m. Zimmer is scheduled to speak with the media for the first time since Friday morning.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Continuity is important on the offensive line, and, yes, talent is kind of important, too. Still, it’s pretty noteworthy that the Vikings return all five starting linemen from the 2012 and 2013 seasons. How many other teams can say that? One, maybe two. The Patriots have definitely started the same five guys. The 49ers have not, but their current starting five have been on their roster at least that long.

What you missed at Vikings training camp today

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 26, 2014 - 6:13 PM

After the defense appeared to win the day yesterday, the offense struck back this afternoon.

The passing offense was much crisper today, and you could count on two hands the number of passes that hit the grass in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. First-stringer Matt Cassel fared the best of the quarterback bunch, completing 17 of his 19 attempts, with one of those passes getting swatted down at the line. Sure, there was some dinking and dunking, but Cassel did complete a few difficult throws downfield against Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense.

While the players are still playing without pads on and there is no live tacking, this practice was conducted with a faster pace and a little more intensity than yesterday’s training camp kickoff.

SETTING THE SCENE: After a soggy morning walkthrough, the clouds headed for the hills, creating a picturesque afternoon in Mankato with blue skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. Players were in helmets and shells for the second straight day. The practice lasted just under two hours.

YOUR DAILY QUARTERBACK SMORGASBORD: Cassel wasn’t the only one who completed most of his passes. Bridgewater completed 10 of his 13 attempts during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills and Ponder missed on just two of his 10 throws, including one after he executed a nice pump fake but couldn’t quite connect with Kain Colter, who was unable to make a tricky twisting catch. Bridgewater made a couple of nice throws, including a perfectly-placed lob outside the numbers to wide receiver Adam Thielen for a big gain. Bridgewater overshot a few throws like that during the first two days of camp, but that completion garnered him a loud cheer from the bleachers.

SLIGHT END?: Pretty much every player will tell you this time of year that they are in the best shape of their life, but it is noteworthy that the team as a whole has slimmed down since Zimmer brought stricter standards to the team cafeteria. One of those players who has shed some weight is tight end Kyle Rudolph, who did it in the hopes it will help him get open more often in coordinator Norv Turner’s tight-end-friendly offense. Today, he certainly looked pretty good running routes, changing directions well for someone who is 6-foot-6. But will the weight loss affect his run blocking? We’ll find out soon. The pads get strapped on tomorrow.

ROCKY RHODES: It wasn’t the best day for second-year cornerback Xavier Rhodes. During one stretch, Rhodes, who mans the right sideline, was beat to the inside for a chunk play by wide receiver Greg Jennings, who ran a deep post route. Quarterbacks picked on him a couple of more times for completions along the sideline, leading to some extra coaching from Zimmer.

DAY OF THE SWING PASS: Of all those completed passes today, I’d estimate that at least a third of them went to Vikings running backs. Maybe even half. After practice, Zimmer praised Adrian Peterson’s route-running. Sure, Peterson didn’t have the best day catching the ball yesterday. But he caught one in the open field today and was off to the races. After watching that, you can understand why Zimmer and the coaches are so excited about his potential in the passing game.

EARLY RETURNS: With wide-out Cordarrelle Patterson sidelined, the Vikings got a closer look at a group of potential kick returners that included Colter, Thielen, Jarius Wright, Jerick McKinnon, Josh Robinson and Marcus Sherels. I’d tell you who looked the best, but no one is allowed to touch these guys. For what it’s worth, coordinator Mike Priefer seemed to bark more praise toward McKinnon and Sherels.

INJURY REPORT: Zimmer said that Patterson (foot) and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (hammy) are getting closer to practicing, though he would not offer a timetable. Patterson could be spotted on the far field jogging and doing straddle exercises without a limp. As for safety Andrew Sendejo (lower back and ankle), Zimmer was not as optimistic. Sendejo has been dealing with the back injury since last season, and Zimmer pointed out that he has yet to see him practice. The safety position is a crowded one, so Sendejo will lose more and more ground every day he sits out.

What you missed at Vikings training camp today

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 26, 2014 - 12:16 AM

Mike Zimmer has promised that the Vikings would be fast and physical, but they eased into training camp this afternoon. There will be no live contact in the first couple of days of camp, so Zimmer said earlier that those practices will have more of an OTA feel. He ended up being right.

Practice started with position drills followed by some 1-on-1 work. After that, Zimmer sprinkled in some 11-on-11 team drills and a brief blitz period. There was also a lot of special teams work.

Usually at the start of training camp, the defense gets the better of the offense as the offense finds its rhythm. Today, the defense had its moments, contesting passes as Zimmer has said he hoped to see, so they’d probably get the slight edge, partially due to several errant passes from the offense.

SETTING THE SCENE: Practice was outdoors. The practice lasted around two hours. Players were in helmets and shells. The weather here was overcast and the temperature was reasonable.

BATTLE OF THE ‘BACKERS: Top pick Anthony Barr, who missed most of the spring due to an NFL rule that kept him at UCLA, started his first NFL training camp with the second-team defense. Running with the first team were Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole. It will probably only be a matter of time until Barr is with the starters, but Zimmer is going to make him earn it.

SIMPSON SIZZLES: Wide receiver Jerome Simpson had a pretty solid first day, despite one bobbled pass that nearly led to an interception in team drills. In individual drills -- yes, I know, they are just 1-on-1s -- Simpson once ran a crisp deep out route, slamming on the brakes to leave his defender in the dust before making a nice, lunging grab near the sideline. On another play, he got behind the defense but Teddy Bridgewater barely overshot him. Simpson brings that vertical dimension to Norv Turner’s vertical offense, and could thrive if he can become more consistent.

LET’S TALK QUARTERBACKS: OK, maybe I should have gotten to the quarterbacks sooner, but there wasn’t a whole lot to report from this afternoon. Matt Cassel, who was throwing to the starters, completed six of his 10 attempts in team drills, though a couple of those incompletions were the result of blatant drops. Bridgewater, who was with the second-stringers, was 5-for-8. Christian Ponder was just 1-for-2, and he threw a few errant passes during individual drills.

CORDARRELLE A NO-GO: Second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson wore a bucket hat instead of a helmet today. Patterson was held out of practice after injuring his foot. The team says that he is day-to-day and no, Patterson wasn’t the guy who failed the conditioning test yesterday.

SAFETY DANCE: Robert Blanton continued to line up next to Harrison Smith with the starting defense, but I can report that 2012 and 2013 starter Jamarca Sanford has returned from injury.

DROPPING THE BALL: When it was time to practice punts, only Jarius Wright and Kain Colter went back to catch them, and Wright struggled at doing so. He let one Jeff Locke punt toward the left sideline drop in front of him and muffed another punt, which was recovered by the coverage team.

NOT CATCHING ON: The Vikings have said they hope to get Adrian Peterson more involved in the passing game, but this afternoon his terrifyingly-strong hands failed him on a few occasions.

INJURY REPORT: Beyond Patterson and the PUP guys -- CB Captain Munnerlyn (strained hammy), S Andrew Sendejo (lower back and ankle) and TE Chase Ford (foot) -- everyone else practiced.

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