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.
Talked to former Vikings Cris Carter, Warren Moon and Daunte Culpepper for this story on NFL sideline behavior. Check out Moon's take on the Buddy Ryan right cross to Kevin Gilbride's jaw during a sideline altercation at the Astrodome during the 1993 season. Moon was on the Oilers sideline that day, resting a rib injury before the playoffs.
One thing that didn't make the story was Vikings defensive end Jared Allen's take on last week's animated sideline display by Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. Here's what Allen had to say:
On there the line is on how far is too far when it comes to sideline outbursts:
"The line is depending on how far your coaches are willing to let you go. I think when they released the audio [of Bryant's outbursts], all of a sudden everybody’s got a different report. That’s why sometimes, no offense to our media guys, but things get blown up way more than they need to be. It’s a passionate game. It’s a violent game. Guys want to win. And sometimes guys need to vent and they need to express things.
"Heck, me and [Vikings coach Leslie] Frazier have been nose-to-nose on the sideline pointing each other in the chest. It doesn’t mean I disrespect him. It doesn’t mean I don’t love him. ... I’m venting my frustration about what I think needs to be done to win that game and 99 percent of the time it’s never about the individual. It’s usually about a situation. You heard the audio from Dez, it was ‘We need to do this. We need to do that.’ And everybody’s opinion changed. Now if other players have to break you up, I guess that can be a distraction. I don’t know. It happens. I’ve seen guys dang near try to choke each other on the sideline and it never gets caught on tape. It’s a passionate game, and honestly, not that I like seeing it all the time, but when you see that kind of heat and that energy, you know that person’s invested. That’s better than the guy that’s just moping on the sideline by himself with his helmet off. When you see that kind of energy, man, so the line is wherever the coach will let him take it too without fisticuffs.”
On whether there needs to be a time limit on how long a player vents:
“Yeah, it’s got to be ended. Maybe we can get a shot clock on it, right? I don’t know. If it becomes the helmets off, then it can be a little destructive, but I can’t say enough. I’ve thrown my helmet plenty of times. I’ve been nose to nose with coaches plenty of times, with other players, it happens, you know? And again like I said, that’s a sign of someone that’s invested. I have a bigger problem with people that are detached that are just like (whistles), you know? Counting butterflies on the side when you’re trying to get a win. So, yeah, maybe you shouldn’t go on all the time, but honestly I saw the clips, I didn’t think it was that big. Now all of a sudden the audio comes out and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, he’s so passionate.’ Give the kid a break. He was hot, for a minute. It’s just like family. You’re around each other every day, all the time, sometimes you need a vent session. Sometimes you need to just, hey, l-i-g, let it go. Move on.”
Six players didn't practice today, including receiver Greg Jennings, who is dealing with a knee injury that's not expected to keep him out of Sunday's game at Dallas.
Others who didn't practice today were: CB Chris Cook (hip), TE Rhett Ellison (ankle), SS Jamarca Sanford (groin), nose tackle Fred Evans (knee) and FB Matt Asiata, who has a shoulder injury and also was absent because of the death of his father earlier this week.
Five other players were on the injury report but had full participation in practice. They were: LB Chad Greenway (wrist), CB A.J. Jefferson (ankle), WR Rodney Smith (hip), K Blair Walsh (left hamstring) and DT Kevin Williams (knee).
For the Cowboys, seven players did not practice today. There are: WR Miles Austin (hamstring), CB Morris Claiborne (hamstring), S J.J. Wilcox (knee), LB DeVonte Holloman (neck), S Danny McCray (hip/toe), DE DeMarcus Ware (thigh) and C Brian Waters (elbow).
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier declined to name a starting quarterback for Sunday's game at Dallas today. He said he had "an idea" about who was starting, and that the players know, but he probably won't announce the choice until Friday.
Master Tesfatsion reporting here from Winter Park for the rest of the Star Tribune crew.
“I got some things I want to go through, but I have an idea of what direction we’re going to go and how we’re going to practice,” Frazier said. “But not in the frame of mind where I want to acknowledge that at this point. Our team knows, and I’m sure it’ll get out there at some point. I don’t want to publicly talk about who is going to be our starter.”
Josh Freeman missed the Green Bay loss because of concussion symptoms, was eventually cleared to play, but was inactive for the game. Christian Ponder played in the 44-31 loss, backed up by Matt Cassel. From the looks of practice on Wednesday, it wouldn't be surprising to see Ponder start.
As Freeman went through the NFL protocol for concussion symptoms, he wasn’t allowed to participate in meetings last week. It limited his ability to study the playbook, which he’s only seen for a few weeks since he signed with the Vikings on Oct. 6.
“When you come in as late as he did and then have to miss the amount of time he had to miss last week as you’re trying to develop him and help him learn our offense, it definitely sets him back,” Frazier said. “There’s nothing we can do about that but work as hard as we can this week to get him back to speed and see where he is from a physical and mental standpoint.”
Running back Matt Asiata, whose father was killed in a bus-truck collision in Utah on Monday, will not practice, Frazier said. Asiata missed Sunday's game because of a shoulder injury.
Injured defensive backs Chris Cook (hip) and Jamarca Sanford (groin) won't practice today, and neither will tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle).
Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who set an NFL record for longest kickoff return in league history (109 yards) on Sunday night against Green Bay, has been named NFC special teams player of the week.
Patterson had 228 kick return yards in the game.
“When you watch some of his runs, he’s a big receiver but he’s more of a slight guy when you look at him frame-wise,” Frazier said. “He breaks tackles. He’s a physical runner, and his vision is unparalleled. He does a great job of being able to see things that are not visible to most.”
Frazier said Patterson joked about when he’d receive NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors this season. He hasn’t been involved with the offense as often as expected for a first round selection, but Frazier said Jerome Simpson’s productivity at the “X” position has limited Patterson’s offensive snaps. Patterson has 13 catches for 133 yards this season while Simpson has 27 receptions for 422 yards.
“You can see at times we’ve already begun to try to get both on the field at the same time, but that requires a different learning when you put them at different positions,” Frazier said. “You’ve got both guys that play the ‘X’ position at wide receiver in this offense, and Jerome has played very well for us this season and that has been a part of it.”
What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?
CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Colts (5-2)
Why: Want to hover near the top of the league for, oh, about 30 years? Draft a future Hall of Fame quarterback No. 1 overall, have him carry your entire franchise, holes and all, for 14 seasons, have him get hurt, allowing you to post the league’s worst record, get lucky that it’s the right year to have the No. 1 overall pick (Tim Couch: No. Jamarca Russell: No. Andrew Luck: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!), pick the league’s next great quarterback, have him lead you to the playoffs as a rookie and, finally, have him beat the future Hall of Fame quarterback you picked a decade and a half ago. It’s all pretty simple stuff, really.
2. Seahawks (6-1); 3. Broncos (6-1); 4. Chiefs (7-0); 5. 49ers (5-2); 6. Bengals (5-2); 7. Packers (4-2); 8. Patriots (5-2); 9. Saints (5-1); 10. Chargers (4-3); 11. Cowboys (4-3); 12. Panthers (4-3); 13. Jets (4-3); 14. Lions (4-3); 15. Steelers (2-4); 16. Bills (3-4); 17. Ravens (3-4); 18. Cardinals (3-4); 19. Redskins (2-4); 20. Bears (4-3); 21. Dolphins (3-3); 22. Titans (3-4); 23. Eagles (3-4); 24. Browns (3-4); 25. Falcons (2-4); 26. Raiders (2-4); 27. Rams (3-4); 28. Giants (1-6); 29. Texans (2-5).
30. Vikings 1-5 (Last week: 29): We’re two blind squirrels (Jaguars, Schianos) finding two nuts (wins) from the Vikings performing as the worst team in the entire league.
THE REST OF THE REST
31. Buccaneers (0-7).
WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Jaguars (0-7): NFL coaches are always striving for consistency. If nothing else, the Jags are consistent.
Packers minus-8 ½ at Vikings: Packers 28, Vikings 14: The complete lack of logic associated with most NFL games suggests former QB of the future-turned-throwaway-turned-emergency-starter Christian Ponder leads the Vikings to a stunning victory with a turnover-free performance that leaves the Vikings once again stumped over what to do at the QB position. But as long as Aaron Rodgers isn’t one of the injured flies dropping in Green Bay, I’ll take the Packers.
Last week: Vikings plus-3 ½ at Giants. The pick: Giants 21, Vikings 14. The final: Giants 23, Vikings 7. Record: 2-4, 1-5 vs. the spread.
Steelers minus-2 ½ at Raiders: Raiders 24, Steelers 21.
Why?: The Steelers’ hot streak is due to end because the Steelers are coming off the Ravens game and, well, they really aren’t that good this year.
Last week: Patriots minus-3 ½ at Jets. The pick: Jets 19, Patriots 16 OT. The final: Jets 30, Patriots 27. Record: 1-6.
49ers minus-15 vs. Jaguars at London: 49ers by 18.
Cowboys plus-3 at Lions: Cowboys by 7.
Giants plus-5 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 7.
Browns plus-7 ½ at Chiefs: Chiefs by 3.
Bills plus-11 at Saints: Saints by 14.
Dolphins plus-6 at Patriots: Patriots by 7.
Jets plus-5 at Bengals: Bengals by 7.
Redskins plus-11 ½ at Broncos: Broncos by 10.
Falcons plus-2 ½ at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3.
Seahawks minus-11 at Rams: Seahawks by 14.
Record: Last week: 11-3; 7-7 vs. the spread. Overall: 54-45; 38-59-2 vs. the spread.
Running back Adrian Peterson, who said earlier today that he's been dealing with right hamstring issues the past five weeks, returned to full participation in today's practice after sitting out entirely on Wednesday.
Left tackle Matt Kalil (back) also returned to full participation after being limited on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, kicker Blair Walsh, who missed the first 50-plus yard field goal of his career last week, was limited in practice again because of a left hamstring injury that has bothered him the past two weeks.
Not practicing Thursday were running back Matt Asiata (shoulder), tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle), quarterback Josh Freeman (concussion) and receiver Rodney Smith (hip). Limited on Thursday were linebacker Chad Greenway (wrist) and cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle).
On Thursday, Freeman passed the cognitive exam that’s the first step in the NFL-mandated protocol for concussed players returning to action. On Friday, he’ll have to pass an exertion test and wait to see if any concussion-like symptoms return.
If he does that early enough, Frazier said there’s a chance Freeman will practice on Friday. But Frazier indicated that missing two practices on a short week means Freeman will be the No. 3 quarterback on Sunday night against the Packers.
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