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.


Vikings switching sidelines at TCF Bank Stadium

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion under Vikings Updated: June 27, 2014 - 4:30 PM

If you already bought your Vikings season tickets at TCF Bank Stadium behind the south sideline hoping to sit behind the home team, that won't happen.

The Vikings will use the north sideline during home games over the next two seasons. The change from the south sideline was made by the Vikings staff, including general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer, after several visits to TCF Bank Stadium.  

The press box and club seating on the south end of the stadium creates a shadow over the south sideline late in the season for the Gophers, who occupy the south sideline during home games.

The shadow spills over to the field and eventually creeps over to the north sideline later in the game. This will create a more comfortable environment for the Vikings in their temporary home with the ability to stand in the sun longer during those cold home games late in the season. But the switch will likely disappoint season ticket holders that specifically wanted to sit behind the Vikings bench.

“We understand some fans may be concerned with the change, and we’re encouraging those fans to contact our ticket office with any questions or concerns,” Vikings Executive Director of Communications Jeff Anderson said. “We’ll be willing to work with them and be as accommodating as we can.”

The Vikings plan to return back to the south sideline when the new stadium opens in 2016.

Vikings rookies soak in NFL rookie symposium

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: June 25, 2014 - 12:52 PM

The Vikings’ rookies are in Aurora, Ohio this week for the NFL Rookie Symposium. The week-long  orientation focuses on NFL history, total wellness, experience and professionalism.

On Tuesday, former Vikings wide receiver and Hall of Famer Cris Carter was one of the guest speakers. He typically has a good presentation, and here’s a short clip from 2010

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and cornerback Jabari Price posted their appreciation for Carter on social media after he spoke.

“#Hometeam Chris [sic] Carter and I catching up once again.. Many life lessons learned from this guy,” Bridgewater said on Twitter.

"I’m glad we have a group of guys here that came back and shared their stories," Bridgewater said on NFL Network this week. "It’s really touched me hearing guys say don’t let football become who you are because at some point the game is going to end. Those life lessons that guys have gone through, it sticks well with you."

"Learned a lot from Chris [sic] Carter today at the Rookie Symposium #Skol,” Price said on Twitter.

The rookies will get a few weeks to unwind after the symposium before the Vikings report to training camp on July 24.

Vikings release training camp practice schedule

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion under Vikings Updated: June 24, 2014 - 4:42 PM

The Vikings released a detailed schedule of training camp on Tuesday with a month until the players report to Mankato on July 24.

Practice begins on July 25 and the team will break camp on Aug. 15. There will be three night practices at Blakeslee Stadium, including a Family Football Day on Aug. 2. Access to Vikings Village and all practices are free but parking on the Minnesota State University-Mankato costs $10. Times are subject to change, but here’s the tentative schedule:

Friday, July 25
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm        

Saturday, July 26
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm    

Sunday, July 27
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm    
                            
Monday, July 28
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 7:30 - 9:30 pm (Blakeslee Stadium)
                
Tuesday, July 29
Players Day Off            
                        
Wednesday, July 30
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm

Thursday, July 31
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm        

Friday, August 1
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm    

Saturday, August 2
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 7:30 - 9:30 pm (Blakeslee Stadium)

Sunday, August 3
Players Day Off

Monday, August 4
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm

Tuesday, August 5
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm

Wednesday, August 6
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm

Thursday, August 7
Travel back to Twin Cities
                        
Friday, August 8
Raiders @ Vikings - 7:00 pm

Saturday, August 9
Players Day Off

Sunday, August 10
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm

Monday, August 11
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 7:30 - 9:30 pm (Blakeslee Stadium)

Tuesday, August 12
Players Day Off

Wednesday, August 13
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm

Thursday, August 14
Walk-Thru: 10:30 - 11:30 am
Practice: 3:00 – 5:10 pm

Friday, August 15
Travel back to Twin Cities        

Saturday, August 16
Cardinals @ Vikings - 7:00 pm

Vikings 4 Downs: Safeties, Patterson, Jabari Price, cuts

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: June 23, 2014 - 8:30 AM

Every Monday morning during the offseason we’ll take four questions from Twitter for our weekly mailbag using the #VikingsST hashtag.

It’s been a rotation so far with Robert Blanton taking the majority of the first team reps during mandatory minicamp last week. Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo have been out of 11-on-11 sessions up to this point, so the depth chart at the position should change once we get to training camp. I’d think Sanford and Sendejo would receive most of the reps from the start of training camp if they’re healthy and go from there.

Josh Robinson was a full participant during minicamp last week and immediately jumped in with the first team in its nickel package. I’d think he’s the guy if he continues to develop technique. He didn’t play well last year before he fractured his sternum but don’t give up on Robinson, who said he wasn’t comfortable playing the slot corner in the nickel last year. He’ll be back on the outside for the most part. The only other person at this point that has a shot at the third corner spot outside of Robinson is Derek Cox.

Every way imaginable. Short, intermediate, deep routes and trick plays like we saw last year. Patterson said he went into this offseason trying to understand every wide receiver position so he wouldn’t be limited like last year.

An offense like this can really benefit athletic receivers that can gain yards after the catch. Using Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon as an example last season under Turner, he had 87 catches and led the league with 1,646 receiving yards. He finished fifth 637 yards after the catch, which counted for 38.6 percent of his receiving yards.

A much smaller sample size with Patterson, but we’ve seen what he can do after he catches the ball. He had 45 catches for 469 yards with 293 of those yards after the catch. So 62.4 percent of his receiving yards occurred after the catch.

Now take in the fact that Patterson had developed as a route runner and has done a better job of completing the catch in traffic so far this offseason. I questioned whether Patterson would be a 1,000-yard receiver this season and wanted to see improvement in both areas, which he has, but we’ll see if that changes when the players wear pads in training camp. If he still looks good in pads, Patterson will have a monster year.

I don’t think he can crack the rotation at cornerback, but he’s someone that can make the team on special teams and has already been used there during minicamp.

Price doesn’t get a ton of reps during 11-on-11 but the focal point during the individual reps he gets has been technique. Head coach Mike Zimmer had pulled him aside after a 1-on-1 rep last week to break down his technique on the play. There’s a specific way Zimmer wants cornerbacks to use their hips, hands, feet and eyes.

From those 1-on-1 battles though, Price is an aggressive corner that doesn’t lack confidence. At the end of one of the 1-on-1 periods, Price caught Captain Munnerlyn sleeping and ran out on the field to face Greg Jennings for the last rep. He’s doing all he can to get on the field, but it’ll be difficult to surpass the top four corners (Xavier Rhodes, Munnerlyn, Robinson, Cox).

Slow down, Jonathan. It’s June 23! We haven’t even seen these guys in pads yet, so it’s way too early to even think about cuts. Get back to me in a month.

Anthony Barr, Jerick McKinnon visit Target Field

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion under Vikings Updated: June 23, 2014 - 7:42 AM

Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and running back Jerick McKinnon paid a visit to Target Field on Saturday.

Both participated in a home run derby with Twins mascot, T.C., and Barr threw out the first pitch.

“I’ve never really caught a ball in this type of distance in front of you,” said Barr, who didn’t play baseball growing up but went to a handful of Dodgers games.

They got a chance before the game to talk to Tony Oliva, who has his No. 6 retired by the Twins and now serves as a personal assistant/ambassador.

Barr didn’t want to practice, stating, “I’m a natural athlete, and I’ll let the ability take over.” But the Vikings won’t have to worry about MLB teams drafting him anytime soon. He struggled to locate the ball while playing catch, went 0-for-7 during the home run derby (whiffing on a few underhand softball tosses) and lobbed in the first pitch standing in front of the mound.

McKinnon, who was a late addition to the pregame festivites (that's why he doesn't have his name and number on the back of his jersey), ended up tying T.C. with two home runs. The running back launched two softballs into the upper deck in left center field from the center field grass.

Before the event, Barr said he had more home run power than McKinnon, who responded, “I’m not even going to acknowledge his comments. …I have a little bit [of experience] and will make him feel bad when it comes that time. But right now I’m focused on my gameplan for winning the home run derby.

“I’m not even worried about [T.C.] either.”

The two will head to Aurora, Ohio for the Rookie Symposium on Sunday and will last all week. Barr plans to return to California and McKinnon to Georgia over the next month until they report to training camp on July 24.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT