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 Tyrell Johnson

Frazier 'more angry with myself'

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: November 30, 2011 - 1:43 PM

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:

  • Frazier called Johnson's injury a "six-month" injury. Johnson tore a hamstring ligament from the bone during Sunday's loss in Atlanta. Johnson will have surgery today. The injury comes at a bad time for Johnson because he's a free agent after the season.
  • Jenkins tore the meniscus and will have knee surgery tomorrow.
  • Cornerback Asher Allen (shoulder) is day to day. If he returns, he'll start and Benny Sapp would go back to nickelback, Frazier said.
  • Running back Adrian Peterson, who missed last week's game because of a high left ankle injury, won't practice today, but Frazier said the team is hopeful it will get Peterson back. If Peterson practices, it likely won't happen until Friday.
  • Right guard Anthony Herrera also might play this week. He's missed the past four games because of a damaged lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.
  • Frazier said tight end Kyle Rudolph (quadriceps) is the most likely of all the injured players to return this week.
  • Rookie Mistral Raymond will start at free safety.
  • The receiver rotation will Percy Harvin and Devin Aromashodu as the starters, Greg Camarillo as the third receiver and rookie Stephen Burton working in with Camarillo. Burton, a sixth-round draft pick this year, spent the first seven weeks of the season on the practice squad. He then spent three weeks on the active roster, got cut before the Falcons game and then was re-signed when Jenkins ended up on IR.

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.

Vikings place four players on injured reserve including Abdullah, Jenkins

Posted by: Updated: November 29, 2011 - 5:45 PM

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.


Injuries mount; Frazier admits mistake in not throwing challenge flag

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: November 28, 2011 - 1:20 PM

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:

  • S Tyrell Johnson suffered a "significant" hamstring injury and is being evaluated. Frazier said he probably won't be able to play for "a while." The team will know more as the week progresses.
  • WR Michael Jenkins had a knee injury that "could cause him to miss some time." The team will know more Wednesday.
  • FS Husain Abdullah, who missed his second consecutive game because of a concussion, is being evaluated.
  • RB Adrian Peterson, who missed the game because of a high left ankle sprain, is making progress, based on what the team trainers told Frazier today. "He's improving, so that's encouraging for us," Frazier said.
  • CB Asher Allen suffered a sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder. He'll be day-to-day and his status will be determined by how much pain he can tolerate, Frazier said.

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:

"We have a couple of coaches who are reviewing replay upstairs. They'll point something out to me if they think it's something we need to challenge. We got to review out communication based on that play alone. We really got to review that going forward. Seeing the play and realizing that there was a chance to maybe get a challenge in there is something that we have to re-look at it how we're communicating between myself and the guys upstairs."



Final gun report: Falcons 24, Vikings 14

Posted by: Updated: November 27, 2011 - 3:00 PM

Postgame snapshot from the Georgia Dome where the Falcons beat the Vikings 24-14.

Good news: For the second straight week the Vikings faced a 17-point halftime deficit yet managed to fight back in the second half. Their biggest play after halftime was undoubtedly a 39-yard touchdown strike from Christian Ponder to Percy Harvin with 13:13 to play. That came on a fourth-and-13 play immediately after a 6-yard reception by Toby Gerhart was overturned on replay review. Just like that, the Vikings were back within 17-14 with plenty of time left. Harvin later added a 104-yard kickoff return that set the Vikings up with first-and-goal from the Atlanta 3. But they failed to score.
Bad news: The Vikings suffered two more injuries in their already depleted secondary. Cornerback Asher Allen left with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. And safety Tyrell Johnson pulled up with a hamstring injury shortly after. That allowed Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to have a huge day. Ryan completed 27 of 34 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns.
Extra point: Long snapper Cullen Loeffler suffered a back injury late in the first half and was unable to return to the game. That left defensive end Jared Allen to handle long snapping duties for the rest of the game. Allen did just fine in that role. He was a standout long snapper in college at Idaho State.
Next up: The Vikings will host Denver next Sunday at noon at Mall of America Field. The Broncos are in San Diego this afternoon, with kickoff scheduled for 3:15.

Vikings' offense showing little life in first half in Atlanta

Posted by: Updated: November 27, 2011 - 1:31 PM

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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