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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Posts about Tarvaris Jackson

Vikings agree to bring back Rosenfels

Posted by: Updated: March 12, 2012 - 2:19 PM

Turns out the big winner of the Donovan McNabb-Vikings experiment is ... Sage Rosenfels.

Rosenfels, who returned to Minnesota in early December last year, a few days after the Vikings put McNabb on waivers, has now carved out a niche as a reliable veteran back-up quarterback. With free agency opening Tuesday, the Vikings took no chances in letting Rosenfels get away and have now agreed to a new contract.

Details of the new deal have yet to surface.

Still, it puts the 34-year-old Rosenfels in position to head to training camp this summer as the Vikings' No. 3 signal caller behind Christian Ponder and Joe Webb.The Vikings believe Rosenfels' presence will be a plus and he should provide leadership that will help steady Ponder and Webb.

Rosenfels has spent 11 seasons in the NFL but hasn't thrown a pass since December 2008 when with the Houston Texans.

Rosenfels' first stint with the Vikings began in 2009 when he was brought to Winter Park to compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting quarterback job. But eventually Brett Favre later rode into town and altered the script dramatically. Rosenfels never played in '09 and left to join the Giants for the 2010 season.

He was with Miami early last season but was eventually waived with the Vikings swooping in to land him as their No. 3 quarterback after McNabb's exit.

Former Viking Udeze joins Seahawks as coaching intern

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: February 15, 2012 - 10:29 AM

Kenechi Udeze, the Vikings' first-round pick in 2004, has joined the Seahawks as a coaching intern, reuniting him with Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, his college coach at Southern Cal.

Udeze, whose NFL career was cut short because of leukemia, last played in 2007. He has been working as an assistant strength coach at the University of Washington.

Udeze, 28, was limited to just 51 games as an NFL player. All reports indicate his health is doing well and his coaching career is beginning to blossom. The former defensive end will work with Seattle's defensive line. He'll also see some familiar faces in Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice, current Seahawks and former teammates of Udeze's.


Vikings claim quarterback Sage Rosenfels off waivers

Posted by: Updated: December 2, 2011 - 4:02 PM

A day after waiving Donovan McNabb, the Vikings have found themselves a familiar replacement to fill out their depth chart at quarterback. This afternoon, the team's waiver claim for Sage Rosenfels was processed. Just like that, they again have themselves a fill-in to handle scout team snaps for the rest of the season.

Rosenfels was waived by the Dolphins on Thursday. He had been signed by Miami in early October but was placed on their reserve/non-football injury list as he continued recovering from a blood infection he had contracted while dealing with strep throat during training camp with the Giants late in the summer.

Now, he will return to Minnesota, where he was a third-stringer behind Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson during the 2009 season. The Vikings traded for Rosenfels early in '09. They sent a fourth-round pick to Houston, intending to hold a competition for the starting quarterback between Rosenfels and  Jackson. Then, the Vikings landed Favre and Rosenfels quickly found himself as the No. 3 signal caller.

That's how he will return to the Twin Cities for the final 29 days of this season, sharing practice snaps with starter Christian Ponder and back-up Joe Webb.

Rosenfels, whose 33 and in his 11th NFL season, was making $1.5 million this season from Miami. So the Vikings will pick up the final four weeks of that salary. The team is also still on the hook to pay McNabb, who went unclaimed on waivers Friday. McNabb was making $5.05 million this season.

Sneak peek: With Raiders invading, Vikings ship has too many holes to plug

Posted by: Updated: November 15, 2011 - 10:38 PM

A snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for next Sunday’s game at Mall of America Field against the Raiders.

Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder needs to show marked improvement this week. No, no, no, we’re not advocating a full-fledged panicked exit from the Ponder bandwagon. The kid still has the requisite talent and composure to be a difference-maker for years to come. But it is worth pointing out that Ponder has only completed 50.5 percent of his passes this season and has a quarterback rating (69.8) that registers below mocked signal callers likes Arizona’s Kevin Kolb (77.8), Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson (74.8) and Denver’s long-ago benched veteran Kyle Orton (75.7). Look, Ponder needs a lot of help around him – up front and in the receiving corps. But also remember he is facing his own steep learning curve. That was fully evident Monday at Lambeau Field as the Packers blitzed him early and often and rattled him into a night in which he went 16-for-34 for 190 yards with an interception. Ponder was 7-for-17 for 96 yards after halftime.
Which team has the advantage in turnaround time, the Vikings or Raiders?
The Raiders played on Thursday of last week, winning 24-17 in San Diego and then getting nine full days to rest and recover before their trip to Minneapolis. The Vikings? They get a shortened week to address a multitude of errors that surfaced during Monday night’s embarrassing 45-7 loss in Green Bay. But who knows? Maybe the quick turnaround will be a blessing. After all, the Vikings had 15 days between games after beating Carolina 24-21 in Week 8. And yet they returned after their bye week to deliver their biggest stinker of the season.
Cullen Loeffler’s shoulder. The veteran long snapper suffered a rotator cuff injury Monday night. No big deal; he’s just a long snapper, right? Well, Loeffler has played in 126 consecutive games for the Vikings, including playoffs. You’d have to go back to the 2003 regular season finale to find a Vikings punt or field goal attempt that didn’t have Loeffler snapping. On the current roster, Jared Allen is the second-best long snapper. But the Vikings certainly would not ask him to take on that role if Loeffler’s injury were serious. They’re instead forced to scour the open market.
In Oakland, it all starts with the running game. Through the first four games, Darren McFadden ran like a Pro Bowl star, accumulating 468 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The last three weeks, with McFadden sidelined and nursing a sprained foot, Michael Bush has sprung to life. Bush had 111 yards from scrimmage in Week 7, 129 yards in Week 9 then blew up for 242 total yards in last week’s win over San Diego. As a team, the Raiders have the NFL’s fourth best rushing offense (156.2 yards per game). They also now have quarterback Carson Palmer knocking the rust off and sparking a big to win the AFC West.
The Vikings can win Sunday: True.
Amazingly, even after seeing Monday night’s 45-7 horror show in Green Bay, the oddsmakers still only have the Vikings pegged as one-point underdogs against the Raiders. Oakland, for what it’s worth, has already won road games this season at Denver, Houston and San Diego. So now we’ll learn a whole lot about the character that coach Leslie Frazier thinks he has on this team. So far, the Vikings have not handled their small samples of success well. They’ve followed each of their wins this season with wildly lopsided losses. But at least after the first blowout loss of the season – a 39-10 faceplant in Chicago – the Vikings came back and fought Green Bay to the wire in Week 7. They’ll need a similar effort Sunday.

Go Figure: Ponder's production doesn't match the buzz

Posted by: Updated: November 15, 2011 - 2:01 PM

As the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s Week 11 game with Oakland at Mall of America Field, here’s a look at a handful of eye-opening figures and facts.

Christian Ponder’s completion percentage this season. Among starting quarterbacks, Ponder ranks ahead of only: close friend and fellow rookie Blaine Gabbert, who is completing only 47.9 percent of his attempts. Ponder’s quarterback rating for the season: 69.8, a mark that puts him ahead of only Gabbert (63.6), Washington’s Rex Grossman (65.3) and Indianapolis’ Curtis Painter 67.4. Ponder has generated quite a bit of buzz in the month since he was named the Vikings’ starter. But at present, his statistics have been relatively lousy. For comparison sake, Donovan McNabb had a quarterback rating of 82.9 in his six starts and Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson has a rating of 74.8 this season. That’s not to say either signal caller is better than Ponder. It’s simply a reminder to be cautious stamping Ponder with a “Savior” tag. Everyone around the Twin Cities – fans, players, coaches, front office personnel – must take Monday’s 45-7 loss as a sobering reminder of how steep the climb back to relevance really is.
The Vikings’ margin of defeat in two NFC North road games this season. They lost 39-10 in Chicago in Week 6 before Monday night’s 45-7 embarrassment at Lambeau Field. The Vikings will travel to Detroit to play the Lions on Dec. 11. Over the past two seasons, the Vikings are 1-9 overall in NFC North games.
Between the 2005-2009 seasons, teams that won five games or fewer in a year. Of those squads, only 12 managed to post a winning record the following season. The most notable members of that quick turnaround club: the New Orleans Saints, who went 3-13 in 2005 and 10-6 the following year; the Miami Dolphins, who went 1-15 in 2006 and 11-5 in ‘07; and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13 in ’09 and 10-6 last season). In 2010, six teams finished with five or fewer wins. Of those squads, only Cincinnati (now 6-3 this season) and Buffalo (5-4) are currently above .500.
Games this season in which a Raiders running back has totaled more than 120 yards from scrimmage. Michael Bush had 243 total yards in last week’s 24-17 win at San Diego and also had 129 the previous week in a loss to the Broncos. Darren McFadden had at least 120 yards from scrimmage in each of the first four weeks of the season, including 178 in an upset of the Jets in Week 3. Oakland visits Mall of America field on Sunday afternoon. McFadden’s status is still up in the air as he continues recovering from a sprained foot.
Combined winning percentage of the Vikings’ final seven opponents. The only games remaining against teams currently with a losing record: Dec. 4 against Denver at Mall of America Field and Dec. 24 at Washington. The Broncos are currently 4-5, the Redskins 3-6.


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