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 Vikings

Vikings holding workouts with Garoppolo, Bridgewater

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: April 11, 2014 - 4:54 PM

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will work out for the Vikings on Saturday at Winter Park, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter. It has also been reported that Bridgewater will be at the team's Top 30 gathering on Monday and Tuesday.

The Vikings had a private workout with Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Friday, an NFL source confirmed to our Matt Vensel.

The team has been in contact with Garoppolo since the East-West Shrine game. From there, Garoppolo earned a spot on the Senior Bowl roster, where the Vikings again reached out to Garoppolo. He was also at the NFL Combine and Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell was at his Pro Day.

It’s noteworthy that offensive coordinator Norv Turner didn’t get a chance to watch Garoppolo at the East-West game or at the Senior Bowl. His son, quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, was at the Senior Bowl as head coach Mike Zimmer was assembling his coaching staff.

While Garoppolo did throw at the Combine, where he measured at 6-2 and 226 pounds, but this could be Turner’s first shot of watching Garoppolo in person. The Walter Payton Award winner for FCS most outstanding player led the FCS with 5,050 passing yards.

The Vikings met with LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger on Thursday following his Pro Day. They’ll remain busy next week with their “Top 30” event scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

A quick look at the Vikings' 2014 opponents

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 11, 2014 - 7:03 AM

The NFL released its preseason schedule on Wednesday, which -- unless you are the rare fan who gets geeked up for exhibition games -- is noteworthy because it means the regular season schedule will be unveiled soon, too. The NFL hasn’t yet said when, but it should be in the next two weeks.

We do know who the Vikings will be playing this season. And where. We just don’t know when.

The Vikings play the NFC South in 2014. They last drew that division in 2011 as they rotate through the different NFC divisions every three years. They host the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium and will travel to play the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They play the AFC East for the first time since 2010. The New England Patriots and New York Jets will come to the Twin Cities and the Vikings will travel to play the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.

They also play the St. Louis Rams (on the road) and the Washington Redskins (at home) because those two teams, like the Vikings, finished last in their respective NFC divisions in 2013.

And, of course, the Vikings will play each of their NFC North rivals twice.

Only four opponents were playoff teams in 2013: the Packers (twice), Panthers, Saints and Patriots.

We will break down the opponents in greater detail once the schedule is announced, but here is the quick rundown of their home and road opponents this season (with 2013 records in parenthesis).

HOME: Bears (8-8), Lions (7-9), Packers (8-7-1), Falcons (4-12), Panthers (12-4), Patriots (12-4), Jets (8-8) and Redskins (3-13).

AWAY: Bears (8-8), Lions (7-9), Packers (8-7-1), Saints (11-5), Buccaneers (4-12), Bills (6-10), Dolphins (8-8) and Rams (7-9).

Barr, Brown, Bridgewater set for Top 30; record-setting RB to visit

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: April 14, 2014 - 3:20 PM

UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr and Louisville inside linebacker Preston Brown will both visit the Vikings for their “top 30” event on Monday and Tuesday, according to two NFL sources.

Barr could be an option for the Vikings with their eighth overall pick. The projected first round pick switched from running back to linebacker two years ago and started every game during his junior and senior seasons. Barr was a first-team All-American last year and led the Bruins in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (20).

Listed at 6-5 and 255 pounds, Barr ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds and finished the three-cone drill in 6.82 seconds, third among linebackers.

Brown led the Cardinals with 98 tackles last season. The second-team All-AAC linebacker posted 13 tackles in Louisville's Sugar Bowl victory over Florida in 2011. Listed at 6-1 and 251 pounds, Brown ran the 40-yard dash in 4.86 seconds. NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki described Brown as an “aggressive, high-collision Mike linebacker best paired with a demanding position coach who will extract the most from him.”

Adam Zimmer is the Vikings' linebackers coach and could fit that description if he's like his father, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

The Vikings have a need at linebacker heading into the draft. They signed Jasper Brinkley to a one-year deal in free agency as they seek two starters to play alongside Chad Greenway. The Vikings have three young, but still unproven, linebackers in Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti on the roster.

Along with Brown, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is expected to attend the event according to ESPN. 

  • The Vikings will also host Towson running back Terrance West before the draft, a league source confirmed. Powerfully built at 5-foot-9 and 225 pounds, the 23-year-old set the Div. I FCS (formally I-AA) single-season rushing record in 2013 with 2,519 yards. He also scored 42 total touchdowns while leading Towson to the FCS championship game. The Vikings are looking for depth behind starting running back Adrian Peterson after losing Toby Gerhart in free agency.

Peterson knew it 'would be hard for anybody to duplicate' his ACL recovery

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 10, 2014 - 1:39 PM

Nearly two years after Adrian Peterson stunned the NFL and surprised the medical field by returning from a devastating injury to threaten the NFL’s single-season rushing record, the Vikings running back’s left knee remains the standard by which all other surgically-repaired knees are measured.

Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament in his knee late in the 2011 season, an injury that turns most NFL running backs into mere mortals. But Peterson not only returned to the field eight months later, he rushed for 2,097 yards and a dozen touchdowns.

Looking back Wednesday on his recovery and his record-setting season, Peterson acknowledged that he made things difficult for his peers by creating unreasonable expectations for ACL recoveries.

“I knew that when I came back and had the kind of season that I had, I knew that it was going to be hard for anyone to duplicate that type of success after an ACL,” Peterson said on a conference call to promote Hyperice, an ice compression wrap he says aided him in his recovery two years ago and also after his groin surgery this winter. “Why do I say that? I say that because just coming back is one thing. That work that I put in, I can’t really express to you how hard I worked, how hard I grind.”

But Peterson tried. Over the next 60 seconds or so, he described a rehab program that made most, if not all, of the muscles I have ache. Every day, he would ride an exercise bike and do other things to rehab his knee. Then he did upper-body workouts in the gym and performed other exercises to strengthen his quads, hamstring and groin. And that was all before lunch. He then would go meet up with his personal trainer, who had him do plyometrics and other activities to help him strengthen his lower body and regain his flexibility and range of motion in his left knee.

“And I did that for months,” said Peterson, who turned 29 three weeks ago.

After rushing for 230 yards in the first three weeks of the 2012 season, he eclipsed 100 rushing yards in 10 of his final 13 games and topped 200 yards in two of them. Peterson came up eight yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, but he carried the Vikings into the playoffs.

“I was better and I knew just the work alone would be hard for anybody to duplicate,” Peterson said. “So I set the bar high and I knew it was going to raise some trouble for some other people.”

There were 63 ACL injuries during the 2012 season, according to NFL, and some were suffered by standout players such as Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, Houston Texans inside linebacker Bryan Cushing and New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. While the injuries to and the circumstances for each player are different, each of those players experienced a drop-off in their play and production with some (Griffin and Clemons) steeper than others (Revis) in 2013.

No ACL last season was scrutinized more than the one in Griffin’s right knee. Griffin, who reached out to Peterson’s trainer for advice after suffering his knee injury, struggled at times last season before he was benched by (now former) Redskins coach Mike Shanahan for the final three games.

So what made Peterson the exception to all the rules about ACL recoveries two offseasons ago? While he acknowledged that genetics were probably a factor, he mostly chalked it up to hard work.

“That’s not to say that other guys didn’t work hard to come back,” Peterson said. “But I know the kind of work that I put in and I tried to share that with people, but people have their own ways. That’s perfectly fine as well. But I knew it was going to be extremely hard for someone to come out and put in the work that I put in.”

No deal with Kurt Coleman -- but Vikings offer contract

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 11, 2014 - 10:07 AM

Former Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman, who was in the Twin Cities on Thursday to make a free-agent visit with the Vikings, was offered a contract by the Vikings, a source confirmed.

The visit ended this morning with no deal agreed upon, but the door remains open for now.

Coleman, 25, is a former seventh-round pick of the Eagles. Coleman started at free safety for the Eagles in 2011 and 2012 and made 29 starts in his four seasons with the Eagles. He was a reserve last season after Chip Kelly replaced Andy Reid as head coach. Coleman has made 170 tackles in his career with seven interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles.

He became an unrestricted free agent when his contract expired following last season.

The Vikings already have six safeties on the roster and return a pair of starters in Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford. If signed, Coleman, at the very least, could provide some quality depth and help the Vikings out on special teams. He played on both coverage teams for the Eagles last season and had a hand in eight special-teams tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

Coleman is an Ohio native who played college football at Ohio State.

ESPN first reported the news that the Vikings offered Coleman a contract.

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