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.
If you're ticked off at Leslie Frazier -- and I'm guessing many of you are --consider Frazier right there with you.
The Vikings coach was asked today to describe his mindset during this 2-9 season. He said:
"I think our team has been fighting week in and week out. We haven't made enough plays to get over the top in some games. I'm more agry with myself in not being able to get us to where we need to be so we wouldn't be 2-9. But I think our guys have fought week in and week out and tried to put us in a position in the fourth quarter to have a chance to win games. We just have to find a way to get over the hump and find some confidence and build on that. Hopefully, that will be this weekend."
Frazier said he won't have time to figure out what he should have done better until after this season.
"Maybe when the season is done, I'll be able to go back and reflect on some of the things that have occurred this season and try to ascertain what could have been done differently so we don't find ourselves in this position again. As you're going through the season, you're getting ready week to week and you're trying to come up with a game plan and a plan to try and get the guys to fight hard every week. I'll have a better assesment when we're done."
As for injuries, Frazier said he can't recall ever being on a team that put four players on injured reserve on one day, as the Vikings did Tuesday with long-snapper Cullen Loeffler, safeties Husain Abdullah and Tyrell Johnson, and receiver Michael Jenkins. Frazier said Loeffler and Jenkins were "iffy" as to whether they would have gone on injured reserve had the Vikings been fighting for a playoff spot.
Here are some more details about some of the injuries:
Practice update: MLB E.J. Henderson was not at the portion of practice that's open to the media. We'll find out more about that after practice. Peterson also wasn't on the field. Asher Allen wasn't practicing. And, no, that wasn't Larry Fitzgerald Jr. That was Stephen Burton, who has changed to No. 11. Practice squad tight end Mickey Shuler is now No. 86.
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.
Long-snapper Cullen Loeffler was the most seriously injured of the many Vikings who were beat up in Sunday's 24-14 loss in Atlanta, coach Leslie Frazier said today.
Loeffler suffered a fracture in his lower back and will be out a minimum of two weeks and up to six weeks, Frazier said. Considering the season has only five more weeks, he could be done for the year.
Although defensive end Jared Allen snapped on six punts and two PATs without incident on Sunday, the Vikings obviously won't start a game with Allen as their long-snapper. So Frazier said the team will look to sign a long-snapper, probably before Wednesday's practice.
Other injuries, according to Frazier:
As for the talker of the day -- the coaching staff's failure to challenge what appeared to be a touchdown by Percy Harvin on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line late in the game -- Frazier admitted there was a mistake in communication.
Asked who tells him whether or not to challenge a call, Frazier said:
Postgame snapshot from the Georgia Dome where the Falcons beat the Vikings 24-14.
The box score is a horror story for the Vikings right now. At halftime, they trail the Atlanta Falcons 17-0 at the Georgia Dome. And if you're looking for a statistical summary of the Falcons' domination, take your pick.
Atlanta holds a 207-97 advantage in total yards, a 15-5 edge in first downs and has held the ball for 19:36.
Still, perhaps the most telling sign of the Vikings' struggles this afternoon: they've had five possessions and cross into Atlanta territory for the first time with 8 seconds left in the second quarter. Christian Ponder is 10-for-12 for 81 yards but 58 of those yards came in the final minute. Toby Gerhart, starting in place of the injured Adrian Peterson, has eight carries for 23 yards and has been stopped for no gain four times.
On their first four series, the Vikings averaged four plays and eight net yards. Now facing a 17-point deficit, it's hard to imagine there's anywhere enough ammunition to spark a comeback. Especially with the injuries adding up in the secondary. In the second quarter, Asher Allen left the game with a shoulder injury. Tyrell Johnson pulled up with a hamstring injury shortly after. Atlanta's Matt Ryan has taken full advantage, completing 14 of 18 passes for 151 yards with touchdown strikes to Harry Douglas and Roddy White.
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