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.
The Vikings are 2-9. The injuries keep adding up. We'd suggest you use your Sundays to tackle holiday shopping or other household chores. It could be a long month at the end of a trying season.
This afternoon the Vikings placed four key players on injured reserve, putting a premature end to the seasons of long snapper Cullen Loeffler, receiver Michael Jenkins and safeties Husain Abdullah and Tyrell Johnson.
To compensate for those roster moves, the Vikings signed four players: receiver Stephen Burton, long snapper Matt Katula and safeties Jarrad Page and Andrew Sendejo. Tight end Mickey Shuler has also been added to the practice squad.
Loeffler fractured a bone in his lower back, near his tailbone in Sunday's loss in Atlanta. That injury brings to an end a consecutive starts streak of 123 regular season games.
Abdullah suffered a concussion in Week 10 at Green Bay and has been unable to progress enough to risk bringing him back this season.
Johnson suffered a serious hamstring injury in the second quarter in Atlanta. And Jenkins, who played through the Vikings' final series Sunday, has a knee injury.
Cullen Loeffler's out with a serious back injury. And Jared Allen's worth comes far more from his pass rushing skills than from his ability to long snap. So the Vikings made a necessary move this afternoon, signing Matt Katula as their new long snapper.
Scott Smith, Katula's agent, was the first to announce the signing on Twitter.
We will have more information on additional Vikings roster moves shortly.
MANKATO -- Waiting out of Gage Center for players to arrive but wanted to post this. It's the moves the Vikings have made.
FREE AGENTS SIGNED
Devin Aromashodu, WR, Auburn
Tristan Davis, HB, Auburn
Jonathan Gilmore, LB, Western Oregon
Michael Jenkins, WR, Ohio State
Scott Kooistra, OT, N.C. State
Ryan Lincoln, WR, Texas A&M Kingsville
Cedric McKinley, DE, Gophers
Mark Washington, LB, Texas State
Husain Abdullah, S, Washington State
Fred Evans, DT, Texas State
Eric Frampton, S, Washington State
Erin Henderson, LB, Maryland
Ryan Longwell, K, California
2011 DRAFT PICKS SIGNED
Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Christian Ballard, DT, Iowa
Brandon Burton, CB, Utah
DeMarcus Love, T, Arkansas
Mistral Raymond, DB, South Florida
Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock
Ross Homan, LB, Ohio State
D’Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona
Stephen Burton, WR, West Texas A&M
Although there has been speculation the Vikings could use the franchise tag on pending free agents Chad Greenway or Sidney Rice, vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said today that no decision has been made.
"We're going through that process," said Spielman, whose team has 19 potential restricted and unrestricted free agents. "I think you tie that into your whole process, on whether you're going to utilize that franchise tag or not. But anything from any type of roster moves or franchise tag or anything like that, we'll probably not buckle up here until another week or two."
Last Thursday opened a two-week window for teams to apply the franchise or transition tag to their players. The franchise tag pays a player the average of the top five players at his position. The transition tag does the same for the top 10 and gives a club the ability to match any offer that player may receive.
Although some teams are applying the tags on their potential free agents, the NFL Players Association plans to fight the issue because the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement on March 4 could mean the end of the tags.
"We've always done a very good job keeping our core young talent," Spielman said. "I'm sure as we finalize this thing that those guys we want to have back on this roster, and we want to keep our youth and our guys on this roster. I'll just leave it at that."
Spielman said the Vikings personnel department and coaches spent last week going through the free agents who will hit the market if and when a new CBA is in place. This week that focus has shifted to draft preparation, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Vikings officials will depart early next week for the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Asked how difficult it is knowing that the April draft could fall before free agency, if there is a lockout, Spielman said: "All we’re doing is we’re just preparing. I don't know whether there’s free agency or not free agency or what’s going to happen with the CBA, I don’t know what’s going to happen with that. Our job is to just go through our normal procedures, our normal time line on making sure we have everything in place regardless of what’s going to happen in the future.
"If something gets done or something doesn’t get done for a while, we’re ready on that side. I know there’s no change in the draft procedures or when the draft is going to be. So we’re doing our normal process and normal procedures on that side as well.”
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