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.
Last week, rookie Christian Ponder made his first NFL start and seemed to inject adrenaline into the Vikings’ offense. Adrian Peterson wound up rushing for 175 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Coincidence? We’ll find out more Sunday when the Vikings visit Carolina and attempt to torch a defense that ranks 30th in the NFL in points allowed (26.1 ppg) and 29th against the run (133.4 ypg).
Starting quarterback: Tarvaris Jackson (6-for-12, 63 yards, no TDs)
As the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s Week 7 game with Green Bay at Mall of America Field, here’s a look at a handful of eye-opening figures and facts. And yeah, they’re all Christian Ponder related this week.
As the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s Week 6 game with Chicago at Soldier Field, here’s a look at five eye-opening numbers.
The Vikings posted back-to-back 0-2 starts only once (2001 and 2002) in their first 50 seasons. Sunday, they'll try to avoid doing it a second time when they return to the Metrodome to face the Buccaneers in a game between two 0-1 teams.
Since 1990, only 12.5 percent of the teams to start 0-2 have reached the playoffs. The Vikings were one of them in 2008. And, of course, the best exception to the rule that 0-2 is a time to panic is the 2008 Giants, who not only made the playoffs but beat an undefeated Patriots team to win the Super Bowl.
The Vikings have started 0-2 just 10 times in their first 50 seasons, with half of them coming in the past 10 seasons: 1962, 1965, 1967, 1981, 1984, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2010. Brad Childress' 2008 team is the only one of those to go on and make the playoffs. He benched Tarvaris Jackson and went with Gus Frerotte after that 0-2 start.
Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant started 0-2 only twice in 18 seasons, scattering them 15 seasons apart. Bud lost his first four games as Vikings coach, but seemed to bounce back OK.
Prediction: Vikings 21-17. Although MLB E.J. Henderson's swollen left knee and questionable status makes me question this pick, I don't think the Bucs' offensive line will hold up well enough in the Metrodome for Tampa Bay to gain control of this game.
SEATTLE -- Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was upbeat Saturday night following his team's 20-7 preseason victory over the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
"Although it's the preseason, it was really encouraging to see our guys come out and really play some good football," Frazier said. "[We] did some good things offensively. Our defense, our special teams ... [I] really challenged our guys going into the week to really work on certain areas that we felt we needed to improve on. It will be the same way this next week. Every week we're trying to improve in the preseason. If we can do that we'll be right where we need to be when we get to the regular season."
Among the things that Frazier pointed to:
For the first time this preseason, the Vikings are going to game-plan for their next opponent. That will be Dallas on Saturday night at Mall of America Field. That means that the team essentially will switch out of training camp mode. Frazier said no decision has been made yet on how long McNabb and the offensive starters will play against the Cowboys but it wouldn't be surprising if they play into early in the third quarter.
On the injury front, linebacker Mark Washington injured his shoulder on the opening kickoff of the second half but Frazier did not have any further details. Cornerback Brandon Burton and linebacker Ross Homan were shaken up. Frazier said Burton is fine but did not know about Homan yet.
The Vikings jumped on their charter immediately after the game and flew back to the Twin Cities. They will have Sunday off before resuming practice Monday at Winter Park.
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