Dan Wiederer began covering the Vikings in 2011, enthusiastically delivering insight on the team across the Star Tribune's print and digital products. Prior to joining the Access Vikings team, he spent seven seasons covering ACC basketball at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He also covered the Chicago Bears in 2003 and 2004. Follow him on Twitter @StribDW.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
By Kent Youngblood -- @BloodStrib
Greetings. Kent Youngblood here with an update following Tuesday's walkthrough. The Vikings will return to the practice field at 2:45 p.m. with the offense looking to bounce back from a somewhat disappointing Monday practice. On to the notes ...
Friday’s preseason opener in San Francisco will mark the first time a number of players will have to see how they operate in a game-like situation. And they won’t be alone. This will also be Alan Williams’ first game as the team’s defensive coordinator.
“I’m looking forward to working with the staff in game mode,” Williams said. “It’s not just a first-time run-through for the players, it will be a first-time run-through for our staff in terms of communicating.”
Williams said he would work the game from the field rather than the press box. He has done both in his career. But in his first go as a coordinator in the NFL, he wanted to start out on the field to make sure the lines of communication were clear and the staff was adept at making in-game adjustments.
“If it works fine, I think I’ll stay (on the field),” Williams said. “If it’s working, why try to fix it? I’ll start there, see what happens, and then adjust.”
Both offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and Williams said a final decision on how much time their starters will play against San Francisco has not been made. Both will take their lead from head coach Leslie Frazier. But Musgrave said he wanted to take his starters as deep as he can in the first quarter while still trying to get sufficient tape on everybody.
Williams, meanwhile, said being new wouldn’t alter his approach to playing his starters. It remains to be seen how much veterans like Antoine Winfield, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen would play. It would be a surprise if any of them played much; Allen has already jokingly asked out of the action.
One thing is clear: The Vikings are still in camp mode, in the sense that they are not game-planning for the 49ers at all. And, given the fact that the two teams meet again in Week 3 of the regular season, you can bet the schemes will be vanilla.
“That’s definitely a factor when you talk about what you’re going to show, what we want to work on and what we could care less about,’’ Musgrave said.
Musgrave said he hoped his offense would bounce back this afternoon after struggles Monday in move-the-ball and goal-line drills.
"Yesterday we took a step backwards in a couple periods," Musgrave said. "We're looking to make those corrections and be better the next time.
A complete corner
Williams went out of his way this morning to praise third-year cornerback Chris Cook for his play in camp so far, referencing a handful of impressive interceptions he has made, both in team work and in one-on-one drills.
“There was one play when he really broke downhill and made a nice interception,” Williams said of a play last week. “Then, in one-on-ones they tried to throw a deep ball on him, and he intercepted that one, too. And if you were here (Monday), you saw on goal line he stuck it up in there and made a tackle and stopped [Toby Gerhart] short of the goal line. I’m seeing a complete football player, which is what you want to have.”
Williams playing well
Alan Williams said defensive tackle Kevin Williams is having a strong camp. In analyzing the players after being hired, Alan Williams said the veteran defensive tackle played better at the end of the season compared to the beginning, when he was battling plantar fasciitis. “He’s playing at a high level,” Alan Williams said.
Griffen gets opportunity
Williams said linebacker Everson Griffen would get looks both as an outside linebacker in the normal defense and as a pass rusher against San Francisco. On Monday, Griffen took a number of snaps as a stand-up rusher in certain sets.
“We’re trying to evaluate him, see what he does best,” Williams said. “We like his playmaking ability, his athleticism. We want to see, in a game-like situation, see how he functions with the lights on, see if he can operate within the scope of the defense.”
Musgrave said running back Jordan Todman (ankle) would try to practice this afternoon. The young tailback tried to practice Monday, but couldn’t. There is a spirited competition between Todman and Lex Hilliard for a backup spot in the rotation, a rather big issue considering Adrian Peterson is coming back from knee surgery and remains on the camp PUP list. Hilliard is a more bruising runner, Todman more elusive. Musgrave said he might go easy on Toby Gerhart on Friday in San Francisco, so Todman (if healthy) and Hilliard could see a lot of action. Derrick Coleman will also get a share of the workload.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will appear in court Monday morning in Houston in connection with a July 7 incident during which police allege he resisted arrest during a skirmish with security at a nightclub.
Peterson will fly to Texas on Sunday and his mandatory court appearance means he will miss a day of Vikings training camp in Mankato. Yet Monday will likely be the only day on which he misses any football-related time due to his legal proceedings.
Monday’s hearing – Peterson’s second court appearance in the case – will be procedural with the prosecution formally announcing whether it wants to go forward and set a trial date or drop the charges altogether.
The state could request more time to investigate and review the case. But even in that instance, Peterson’s defense team will request that a trial date be set.
Peterson’s attorney Rusty Hardin has pushed to have the case thrown out but otherwise will work with the prosecution to have a trial scheduled during the week of Nov. 12. That’s Week 11 on the NFL schedule, which is the Vikings’ bye week.
A source said a trial on Peterson’s case would likely last two or three days. So setting the trial for the bye week would keep Peterson from missing any additional practice time with the Vikings.
Houston police have alleged that, on the night in question, Peterson was belligerent and argumentative when asked to leave the Houston nightclub Live! at Bayou Place at closing time. After words were exchanged, police say Peterson became angry and "assumed an aggressive stance” with three officers then needed to restrain the Vikings star.
Peterson has been adamant that he did nothing wrong, insisting that security and police initiated the altercation, tackling him and punching him in the face several times.
Upon reporting to training camp on July 26, Peterson made it clear he would continue to fight the misdemeanor charges, not wanting his reputation as one of the NFL’s kindest and most modest stars to be tainted by an incident he says was unprovoked and unwarranted.
“The situation is what it is and I haven’t lost any sleep over it,” Peterson said. “I know in due time things will get handled and justice will be served. It’s an unfortunate situation but I feel like everything works itself out … Wrong is wrong and right is right. I did nothing wrong in this situation and ultimately that will be shown.”
Hardin has said he has provided the state with Peterson's version of the events and has submitted statements from three witnesses not connected to either the Vikings running back or the Houston police. Those witnesses, Hardin said, have indicated Peterson had not been a troublesome patron and was unnecessarily attacked.
The Vikings announced their training camp schedule today.
The team reports to Mankato on Thursday, July 26, and the first practice will be the following day on the Minnesota State campus.
Camp lasts three weeks, ending Wednesday Aug. 15.
For the most part, the team will have a morning walk-through practice at 10:30, and a more intense afternoon practice, daily.
The scrimmage open to fans is on Saturday, Aug. 4 at Blakeslee Stadium.
Days off are Sunday July 29, Sunday Aug. 5, and a three-day stretch from Aug. 9-11 when the Vikings have a preseason game in San Francisco.
The Vikings also made one player move today, adding defensive end Jeff Charleston, 29, and waiving rookie defensive tackle Terrell Resonno of Missouri.
Charleston, a six-year veteran, played the past four seasons for the Saints.
And the team also announced some radio and television plans. The radio crew will be heard simulcasting the games on television (Ch. 11) for the preseason games, and ex-Vikings linebacker Ben Leber will join as a sideline interview man.
The KFAN crew, of course, includes play-by-play guy Paul Allen and color commentator Pete Bercich and veteran sideline reporter Greg Coleman.
Here's the team's release on that matter ...
VIKINGS TO SIMULCAST PRESEASON TELEVISION AND RADIO, UNVEIL NEW TV SHOW LINEUP
Eden Prairie, MN (June 28, 2012) – During a fan forum with Vikings Season Ticket Owners today, the team announced the Vikings Entertainment Network (VEN) will use the Vikings Radio Network broadcast team of Paul Allen and Pete Bercich for the 2012 Vikings preseason television broadcasts. The preseason games, aired on KARE 11 (on WUCW August 10 at San Francisco), will be simulcast over the Vikings Radio Network and its flagship station KFAN 100.3 FM.
“Hundreds of thousands of Vikings fans enjoy listening to PA’s exciting calls and thorough analysis from Pete and Greg on the radio during Vikings games,” said Vikings Vice President of Sales & Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer Steve LaCroix. “This is a unique opportunity to incorporate our voices of the Vikings with our television viewers."
Former Vikings punter Greg Coleman will continue his sideline reporting role, while former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber will be added to handle sideline interviews during the preseason TV broadcasts. To hear from the members of the broadcast team, click here.
The addition of Leber unveils him as part of the 2012 VEN team. Leber will serve as video talent on Vikings.com and will have regular appearances on the Vikings pregame TV show, Vikings GamePlan. Vikings preseason TV is co-produced by VEN and PKO Productions and airs live on KARE 11.
In addition to the preseason plans, a new TV show will debut this season. “Vikings: Beyond the Gridiron” will feature a documentary-style format and will focus on the rare inside access that a team network can provide. Beyond the Gridiron will use voice narration as well as the topic interview subjects to tell each story rather than a traditional show “host.” The new show replaces Vikings Weekly, which completed a successful six-year run at the end of the 2011 season. Vikings: Beyond the Gridiron will be co-produced by VEN and Elite Edge Productions and will air Saturdays on KARE 11 and Sundays on FSN.
Vikings GamePlan, presented by Sports Authority, will return for its sixth season as the team’s pregame TV show. Hosted by Paul Allen, GamePlan features interviews with current players, game film review with Head Coach Leslie Frazier, expert analysis and more. Vikings GamePlan is co-produced by VEN and FSN and airs Sundays on KARE 11 and FSN.
The Percy Harvin saga took another turn Wednesday afternoon when Harvin was not on the field for the Vikings' practice session at mini-camp.
Before that session, Vikings GM Rick Spielman said the team has no intention of trading Harvin. Harvin, apparently upset over his contract, has asked for a trade. He has two years left on his five-year, $12 million deal.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier deferred to Spielman’s earlier comments without much elaboration. For example:
On Harvin missing practice: “I know Rick had a chance to to meet with you guys and talk about how we feel in regards to Percy,” Frazier said. “I’ll kind of leave it at that.”
On why Harvin missed practice: “I don’t want to get into that until we have a chance to have an extensive conversation,” Frazier said.
On whether Harvin would be at the mini-camp’s final practice Thursday: “You know, I’m not sure,” Frazier said. “Whether we talk today or in the morning will probably determine that. But I’d really rather concentrate on the guys who are here.
What Frazier did say was that he still planed a sit-down meeting with Harvin.
There is no question the Vikings were taken by surprise by Harvin’s comments and actions this week. Frazier talked about how unpredictable football could be. Harvin would likely be eligible to be fined should he miss another practice Thursday. Teams are allowed to fine a player $10,000 for missing one mini-camp session, $20,000 for missing two and $60,000 for missing all three.
That said, Frazier reiterated that he felt whatever issues were bothering Harvin could be ironed out before training camp. “I don’t know what could keep it from getting worked out,” he said. “Whatever it is. So we’ll see.”
Spielman said he regards Harvin as a cornerstone of the team.
“I feel confident we can work through anything that needs to be worked through,” Spielman said.
On Tuesday Harvin said he was unhappy with the team, but didn’t say why. That led to speculation that it could concern his contract -- which has two years remaining – or his role in the offense. That speculation intensified with Wednesday’s report that Harvin had asked for a trade.
Spielman didn’t add any clarity to what the issue – or issues – might be. Indeed, Spielman didn’t even officially confirm that a trade request had been made.
He did make a couple of things clear, though.
“We have no interest at all of trading Percy Harvin,” he said. “We drafted Percy Harvin here. He’s a key part of our organization. He’s a key part of our football team. Any issues that are out there, or reported, we always handle those things internally.”
Spielman said he had not yet spoken with Harvin, but that Frazier had. Spielman said he had spoken to Harvin’s agent, Joel Segal, “a few times.”
But, just what has prompted Harvin’s request for a trade remains unclear. Earlier Wednesday offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he was unaware of any issues Harvin might have with his role in the offense, and described his relationship with Harvin as “outstanding.”
Spielman said the team usually addresses a contract extension when a player is entering the final year of his current deal.
As for Harvin going public? “Sometimes you can’t control that,” he said. “It’s part of what we have to deal with sometimes. Percy is a very good person. And we’ll get all the issues resolved. … It’s an issue we have to deal with, with coach Frazier and myself.”
Running back Adrian Peterson said he learned about Harvin’s issues with the team when he was lying in bed, watching TV. “I saw it go across the screen,” Peterson said. “Whatever the issue is, I’m sure they’ll get things squared away.”
Peterson was asked if the situation was a distraction. No, he said, more of a bother.
“You definitely don’t want to lose this guy,” Peterson said. “I’m sure the organization will do what it has to do to keep this guy around. If it was me, I’d make sure we kept him around. But we’ll see.”
Peterson said he planned to talk with Harvin to see if he could help him get things smoothed over with the team.
“First I’ll have to sit down and see what’s bothering him,” he said. “We’re grown men, I’m sure he’s going to do what his mind is set [on]. Personally, I think everything will be OK.”
Meanwhile, in non-Harvin news ...
Peterson has been very active along the sidelines at Winter Park during mini-camp. The All-Pro running back remains on a fast recovery from December surgery to repair torn knee ligaments.
“It’s pretty much wide open. I’m able to go out and do everything — cutting and different things like that. Flexibility is good,” Peterson said.
“Main thing for me right now is really getting the strength back in this left leg, getting the quad back strong, getting the hamstring and the calf, building those muscles, trying to get it equal or stronger than the right leg.”
Although Peterson remains optimistic his intensive rehab program will prepare him for training camp, which begins July 26 in Mankato. He wants to play in the season opener Sept. 9 against Jacksonville at the Metrodome.
“My goal is to be able to go out and participate somewhat during training camp,” Peterson said. “That’s my goal. How much? I’m sure the staff, they’ll evaluate things and they’ll let me know.”
Percy Harvin has asked the Vikings to consider trading him.
Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune has confirmed, through a source close to the situation, the story first reported by the Associated Press this morning.
Sounds as if it'll be quite a newsy day again at Winter Park. Harvin went through the morning workout, but did not speak to reporters.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he is not aware of any problems Harvin has with the team's offense. He said he'd like to get Harvin more involved, but said their relationship is "excellent."
The Vikings are back at it today for the second day of mini-camp at Winter Park. Thunderstorms are in the forecast, but the team can always have its afternoon workout in the Fieldhouse.
Here is the recap from Tuesday's Day 1:
Craig Malveaux listened to Jared Allen explain why he wasn't at the OTAs and how he intends to attack the NFL sack record here.
The condition of Chad Greenway's father was the subject of Kent Youngblood's notebook here.
Matt Gillmer produced a video wrapping up the day's events here.
We'll have updates today from Kent and Craig.
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