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 Leslie Frazier

Peterson, Gerhart miss practice; Cassel to start; injury report

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: December 11, 2013 - 3:47 PM

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said injured running backs Adrian Peterson (foot sprain) and Toby Gerhart (hamstring) will not practice today and probably won't practice until Friday, if at all. He also said he's more hopeful that Gerhart will be able to practice on Friday than Peterson.

Frazier said Peterson already has assured him that he'll be ready to play, but added that the team will "err on the side of caution," keeping in mind Peterson's long-term value and the fact that the team is mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture at 3-9-1. Frazier also said Peterson would have to practice on Friday before the team would play him in the game on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Frazier officially announced Matt Cassel as the starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Eagles at Mall of America Field. It will be Cassel's fourth start of the season and second straight start. It will be the first time he's started after losing a start the previous week. But his turnover-free effort in the wild 29-26 loss at Baltimore on Sunday was enough to earn a second straight starting opportunity. Cassel is 1-2 as a starter, but did play the second half of the comeback win over the Bears two weeks ago.

Christian Ponder, who has been cleared from the concussion that sidelined him last week, will serve as the backup. Josh Freeman will be the No. 3 QB.

In other news, tight end John Carlson still has not passed the concussion protocol and cannot practice until he does.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and guard Brandon Fusco (knee) are day-to-day, Frazier said.

Here is the updated practice/injury report:

Vikings: TE John  Carlson (concussion), RB Adrian Peterson (foot), RB Toby Gerhart (hamstring), G Brandon Fusco (knee), CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and CB Josh Robinson (chest) did not practice. LB Larry Dean (knee) was limited. LB Chad Greenway (wrist) was a full participant.

Eagles: LB Najee Goode (hamstring) did not practice. S Earl Wolff (knee) was limited. CB Brandon Boykin (hip) was a full participant.

Adrian Peterson (foot) status unknown; Kyle Rudolph (foot) to IR

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 9, 2013 - 2:17 PM

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier didn't have an update on the status of running back Adrian Peterson, who suffered a sprained right foot in Sunday's 29-26 loss to the Ravens.

Peterson will see a foot specialist on Monday as further evaluation along with more X-rays and a CT scan.

"Well, it’s a little painful," Peterson said. "Obviously it kept me out of the game. The MRI came back great so that’s good. Just got to get a CT scan to make sure the bone is OK."

Peterson said a Lisfranc injury has been ruled out. The foot was still sore in the locker room, but Peterson said it didn't swell up too much. 

"Initially you don’t know exactly what’s going on when you’re feeling it," Peterson said. "That initial contact definitely didn’t feel good. I was kind of worried. But kind of cleared up a little bit after getting the MRI. I’ll see how things play out after the CT scan."

Peterson wants to play, but Frazier said the team’s record, 3-9-1, will factor into whether the running back returns this season.

“Depending on what we find out, it’ll factor in,” Frazier said. “We’ll find out more this afternoon and make a decision from there, but you can’t ignore that fact.”

Tight end Kyle Rudolph was placed on injured reserve, Frazer announced. He suffered a broken foot on Nov. 3 against the Cowboys and was expected to return in 4-6 weeks. The team hoped Rudolph would practice this week, but he wasn’t ready to make that step.

Quarterback Christian Ponder was cleared to practice on Monday after suffering a concussion last week against the Bears. Frazier didn’t announce a starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

Running back Toby Gehart strained his hamstring at the end of Sunday’s loss, Frazier said, and will be day-to-day.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle), guard Brandon Fusco (knee) and tight end John Carlson (concussion) are all day-to-day. Rhodes was still walking around in crutches in the locker room, but he was not wearing a boot.

Wide receiver Greg Childs was placed on the physically unable to perform list.

Vikings' Frazier: Christian Ponder (concussion) only injury concern

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 2, 2013 - 1:25 PM

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said quarterback Christian Ponder is the team's only injury concern after Sunday's win over the Bears. Ponder left the game with a concussion that he suffered just before halftime.

"We’ll have to see how things go with him over the next few days with the NFL protocol regarding concussions," Frazier said.

Due to Ponder's injury, Frazier didn't announce the starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Ravens. Matt Cassel replaced Ponder and went 20 of 33 for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

"There’s no reason at this point on Monday at 12:40 [p.m.] that we have to make a decision," Frazier said. "We can talk it through and do what’s best. But Matt did a terrific job in relief yesterday afternoon leading our team to victory."

Frazier said Ponder missing practice time or meeting sessions because he hasn't passed the concussion tests could factor into the decision at quarterback. Frazier didn't rule out Josh Freeman if Ponder can't play Sunday.

Linebacker Chad Greenway left Sunday's game after aggravating a fractured wrist injury he's played with for over a month. Frazier doesn't expect Greenway to miss Sunday's game however and feels he'll be back on the field after a few days.

Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson released after arrest

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: November 25, 2013 - 12:46 PM

Cornerback A.J. Jefferson was released by the Vikings this morning.

He was jailed this morning at the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility after being arrested on a domestic assault complaint in Eden Prairie.

The Eden Prairie police department released this statement:

At approximately 4:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 22, a 23-year-old female reported to Eden Prairie Police that she was a victim of domestic assault.

Police arrested Anthony Ray Jefferson, 25, at his residence in Eden Prairie and he is now being held in the Hennepin County Jail on probable cause for domestic assault.

The case is currently under investigation and no further details are available at this time.

Jefferson was in his fourth NFL season.  He suffered a neck injury in yesterday's 26-26 tie at Green Bay.

The team announced Jefferson's release in a news release. Coach Leslie Frazier said "I can't really comment on his release or what happens from now on, but we did release him." Frazier also declined to comment when asked followup questions; the Vikings traditionally wait for the legal process to play out before cutting players.

It was the second arrest this month of a Vikings player. Receiver Jerome Simpson was arrested for drunken driving on Nov. 9. Simpson's case is still be kicked around by the NFL office, as he was suspended at the start of last season after a felony drug arrest.

Jefferson was acquired from Arizona last season and played in 15 games, starting seven.  He struggled for most of this season with injuries and ineffective play.

Ponder will start for Vikings, barring unforeseen setback

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: November 15, 2013 - 1:55 PM

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier wouldn't come out and say Christian Ponder will start on Sunday at Seattle. But he did admit that's the likely scenario, barring an unforeseen change in Ponder's progress from a separated left [non-throwing] shoulder on Saturday.

"Christian is better," Frazier said after today's practice. "We gave him a little bit more today in practice, so that was encouraging. We'll see how he feels tomorrow with the extended work he got today and then we'll make a determination based on where he is tomorrow. We want to make sure that he feels comfortable as well as our medical staff as well.

"The way he moved around today, he looked pretty good. Hopefully, he'll wake up tomorrow without any residual effects, negative effects from the workload that we gave him. But you never know."

Frazier wouldn't say whether Matt Cassell or Josh Freeman would serve as the backup, although Cassel looks to be the No. 2. Frazier also said it's possible the team will keep all three quarterbacks active against Seattle.

In other news:

  • We'll have the official injury report later, but it looks like NT Fred Evans (knee) will play after missing the past two games. He got more work in today's practice and should play if he doesn't experience any issues with the knee tomorrow.
  • RB Adrian Peterson (groin) was held out of practice entirely for the second straight day. "We held him out to get him ready for Sunday," Frazier said. "He should be ready to go. No concerns. ... It's more managing him. Not wanting to overextend him. He has a good feel for what we're doing game-plan wise so he should be fine when we get to Sunday."
  • NT Letroy Guion (chest/knee) has regressed in his recovery from injuries that knocked him out of the Redskins game. Frazier said Guion did "OK" in practice today, but "he may or not make it" on Sunday. With Guion's status up in the air, Frazier said the team might have to revisit its plan at nose tackle. Frazier orginally said veteran three-technique tackle Kevin Williams wouldn't start at nose, but would get some snaps there. Now, Williams starting is a possibility. "We'll have to rethink that," Frazier said. "We were hoping that Letroy would make it. Not certain that he will now. So we'll have to go back and discuss the best way to go."
  • Frazier said he was surprised to hear that KFAN radio was reporting that Frazier became animated during Thursday's practice. "How would KFAN know about that?" Frazier said. "It's just things that happen in practice that you're dealing with. Just doing what we do. Just some of those things you have to deal with." Frazier went on to say how important this week of practice is. "Tough seattle team, tough environment and also where we are in our season," he said. "Just making sure that we stay on point. We're 1-0 in the second half of the season. We want to be 2-0 after Sunday afternoon. Just want to make sure we're all on board with getting that done." Frazier also said what he did on Thursday wasn't unusual. "That's why I'm wondering why it was even reported," Frazier said. "I don't think I did anything out of character, anything that I have done in the past."
  • Frazier wouldn't say how the team plans to handle receiver Jerome Simpson's playing time on Sunday. He did, however, say that Simpson will be active and will play in the game. Simpson was arrested and charged with two counts of DWI this week. Cordarrelle Patterson is expected to start ahead of Simpson this week. "[The league] has kind of given us some information on how to proceed this week," Frazier said. "We'll know more when we come back next week. We have an idea of what we can and cannot do this week." As for what the team will do with Simpson beyond this week, Frazier wouldn't say. "I can't go beyond this week," he said. "We'll know more next week. All I know is what we'll be able to do this week." Asked if he was content with the league dictating Simpson's punishment, Frazier said, "I don't know if content is the word, but we'll see what happens when we talk again next week. I know our General Manager, Rick Spielman, will be on the phone with the league on Monday, as he has been throughout this week, talking about what can and can't be done and how we proceed. He'll pick up those conversations again on Monday."

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