Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
Once again, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson didn't hesitate when asked what he thinks went wrong with the running game after his first carry went 78 yards for a touchdown.
"We kind of got beat up a little bit up front," said Peterson, who ran for only 15 yards on 17 additional carries. "Just not really executing, which when I looked at the tape was the biggest thing. It was something we learned from. Something we want to put behind us and not allow it to happen again."
Peterson was asked to compare the Lions' defensive front, which is one of the best in the league especially at tackle, to the Bears' front. Again, the reigning league MVP spoke freely.
"They got some good D-tackles, but they're not Detroit up front," Peterson said. "Not to take anything away from those guys [in Chicago]. Julius Peppers and those guys are great players as well. We got to go out and be physical and make our presence felt."
Here are some other highlights from Peterson's session with reporters today:
On finding ways to gain yards after contact despite consistently facing eight- and nine-men boxes:
"I don't think of different ways. I just go out there and keep my legs pumping and get our guys flying around until the whistle blows. I tell the guys all the time, `You never know where the ball is going to come.' It might be designed to go to the right and I might end up behind the left tackle. Just talking to those guys and making sure they're keeping their eyes open and they're going until the whistle is blown."
On the criticism that Ponder is facing from the media: "It is what it is. It's part of the game. Your performance is going to be critiqued and people are going to give their opinions on how they feel you play. It is what it is. It comes with the territory, especially at the quarterback position."
On whether he thinks Ponder can get the job done: "I definitely think he can do the job. I've said that time and time again."
On fewer 100-yard rushing games and whether it's harder to rush for 100 yards or whether teams are just more pass-happy: "Probably a little of both. Anytime I don't get 100, I'm like, `Wow.' I'm disappointed because I think it's so easy to get 100. But, yeah, I think it's a mix of both. Teams focusing on the run and a lot of teams spreading things out and throwing the ball a lot."
On why no 2,000-yard rusher has ever come close to repeating that feat. Any theories?: "It's hard to do. Thats' one of the reasons. I don't know. I don't have a theory or a reason why it hasn't happened twice. I'm looking forward to being in a class of my own then because I definitely plan on being over 2,000."
The Vikings signed three draft picks -- linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins -- today.
Hodges was a fourth-round selection (120th overall), while Mauti (213th) and Dawkins (229th) were seventh rounders. Hodges and Mauti are from Penn State, while Dawkins played at Florida State.
The signings were announced by the team. Hodges posted his signing on Twitter. He called it the happiest moment of his life.
A video review of the Vikings picks, if you have a little time to watch, is here. Sid also broke down the Penn State linebackers here. (Just wanted to use "Sid broke down" in the context of Sid breaking down film. Not sure that line worked.)
Other Vikings notes:
Michael Sneed, who apparently is quite comfortable referring to herself in the third person, wrote: Sneed hears that former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher, whose stellar, longtime career with the Bears began with a growl and ended with a whimper, is getting close to finding a new pigskin playground. Sneed is told that Urlacher, whose decision to leave the Bears followed their offer of a $1.6 million renewal contract, has been talking to the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos. “It’s getting close to happening, but Brian is leaning toward heading to Minnesota and is talking a one to two year contract,” said a source close to Urlacher.
As they used to say on Hee Haw, we don't like to repeat rumors ... so you better listen closely the first time.
So what are the odds that the Vikings will win Super Bowl XLVIII?
People who earn and protect their money against your wagers say 50-1. At least that's what the online sports book Bovada has the Vikings at as the first week of free agency winds to a close.
Those odds come in tied for 22nd in the 32-team league. They're also the longest of the four NFC North teams. The Packers are at 12-1, tied for fifth. The Bears are tied for 12th at 25-1, while the Lions are tied for 16th at 35-1.
The Broncos and 49ers are tied for first at 7-1. The Jaguars are last at 150-1.
And in Seattle, the trade for Percy Harvin moved the Seahawks from 12-1 to 10-1.
No word on how crazy one has to be to place a bet on the NFL, let alone a bet in March on who's going to win the Super Bowl in 11 months.
It’s no secret that the Vikings need help in their linebacking corps. Yes, the team brought Erin Henderson back Tuesday, signing him to a two-year deal. But there’s still a void up the middle of the defense. And last year’s starter, Jasper Brinkley, spent Wednesday in New York with the Giants and was then off to visit with Arizona, according to USA Today’s Mike Garafolo.
So where might the Vikings be turning next to solidify the middle of their defense? A report this evening from Mike Mulligan in the Chicago Tribune says the Vikings could be at least window shopping as Urlacher looks to find a team with which to play his 14th season.
Urlacher is looking for a deal in the range of the $5.5 million Ray Lewis earned in his last season with the Ravens, a source said. It's unlikely the Bears would pay that type of money and not responding to the offer may be a less-than-subtle way of avoiding an embarrassing negotiation.
Urlacher can't be thrilled but Emery does not believe Urlacher feels slighted by "the process," something the GM vowed to avoid when he last talked about the subject last month.
Is Urlacher interested in wearing purple or is he just trying to create a market?
Urlacher has been a fixture in Chicago since the Bears drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 2000. He’s an eight-time Pro Bowler and a future Hall of Famer. But he’s also about to turn 35, in the twilight of his career, missed four games last season with a hamstring injury and doesn’t exactly seem to fit the vision Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has for building his roster.
Spielman continues to talk about building through the draft while making a few practical, good-fit investments in free agency. Urlacher would seem like an odd piece to the puzzle under that plan, a mere quick fix for a team that would likely prefer to find a longer-term solution. Sure, he might have some game left and would need little time to get up to speed with the Vikings’ defensive system.
But a day after letting 35-year-old cornerback Antoine Winfield go as a means of saving $7.25 million, it would seem odd to turn around and deliver a major contract to Urlacher.
Perhaps the Vikings are keeping themselves in the talks for Urlacher as a means of stretching Chicago GM Phil Emery’s financial plans a little thinner. Emery and the Bears, after all, showed significant interest in right tackle Phil Loadholt as free agency neared. And in a determined effort to keep Loadholt, the Vikings needed to deliver a four-year $25 million deal.
That's a small part of the game during free agency -- looking for ways to get better while also scheming for ways to put stress on division rivals.
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