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 don't know what Dean Martin did for Houston, well then you probably should listen to a snippet of this ...
A no news day from the Vikings, who are en route to Space City for tomorrow night's preseason finale.
The substitute officials have not received rave reviews, as Mark Craig wrote here for the morning paper.
Mark also had the notebook package, including the news that starting safety Harrison Smith might have to play because there are so few safeties left on the 75 man roster.
The Vikings must cut to 53 by Friday evening, but it wouldn't be surprising if they made additional moves over the weekend when around 700 players hit the street. There will be a lot of tempting prospects out there.
The Associated Press has some preview capsules for the NFC North here.
And don't forget to watch the Access Vikings video here.
There is no access at Winter Park until Monday, when the Vikings start their "normal" regular season schedule.
The boys are working on our Vikings special section, which will be in the paper on Sunday, Sept. 9. Can't give away any secrets, but there will be a lot of questions and answers on how to rebuild a team that went 3-13 last season.
Dan Wiederer will be in Houston for Thursday's game. Dan also has a enterprise/feature story planned for Sunday that will surprise you. Always nice to pick up the paper for a surprise.
Finally, don't forget Vikings Live Chats will be on Tuesdays at noon during the season, starting next Tuesday.
Preview for Thursday night's game will be up later today.
MANKATO -- Matt Kalil, the fourth player taken in the NFL draft, was signed by the Vikings this morning.
The offensive tackle from USC is the final player to agree to terms as the players report today in Mankato.
Kalil's contract is for four years, and there is no "offset" language that would protect the Vikings in case he turns out to be a failure.
The contract is worth nearly $20 million and will be guaranteed. Kalil's signing bonus is almost $13 million, profootballtalk.com reported.
Coach Leslie Frazier obviously was happy about having his franchise left tackle in place a day before camp practices open.
"He's a key part of what we want to do in 2012," Frazier said earlier today when addressing reporters. "I don't know who's happier, he or [quarterback] Christian Ponder."
Frazier said Ponder was the first person to congratulate Kalil after he signed. Frazier said the QB and the LT rode down to Mankato together.
Here is the Vikings' release:
Tackle Matt Kalil becomes the final member of a 10-member 2012 draft class to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings selected Kalil with the 4th choice in the 1st round after making a trade with the Cleveland Browns. The Southern California product was the highest offensive line-man selected in the 2012 Draft and became the 2nd-highest drafted offensive lineman in Vikings history behind Hall of Famer and fellow USC Trojan OT Ron Yary, who went No. 1 overall in 1968.
Viking coach Leslie Frazier said Adrian Peterson will have surgery within the next two weeks to repair a torn ACL and torn MCL in his left knee, and Frazier seemed confident Peterson would be ready for the start of next season.
The star running back did not speak to the media, but was at Winter Park on crutches with his left knee in a brace.
"If anyone can make it back from this and be as good as they were before, it's Adrian Peterson," Frazier said. Frazier said surgery is likely within 7-10 days.
Vikings athletic trainer Eric Sugarman talked about the injury, saying the recovery time after surgery would be eight to nine months. He said the surgeon and the site of the surgery had not yet been selected, but plans for surgery would be finalized later this week.
Sugarman did not want to compare Peterson's injury to any other injury he has seen, saying Peterson is a unique person with a powerful work ethic.
"Adrian has the DNA to heal quickly, which he has shown in the past," said Sugarman. Peterson had a high ankle sprain last month but seemed at full strength at the start of Saturday's game.
Frazier said he talked with Peterson on the plane ride home Saturday night after the Vikings' 33-26 victory, and also called him on Christmas Day. He said Peterson's spirits were good and he was already looking ahead to recovery.
Other quick notes from Frazier's press conference:
Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, who left the Washington game because of a concussion, is doing well and could be in the starting lineup Sunday. Joe Webb replaced Ponder and threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another, but Frazier seemed to indicated Ponder would start against the Bears if he passes his concussion tests.
Veteran guard Steve Hutchinson seems less likely to play Sunday after missing the Washington gave because of a concussion, but Frazier seemed optimistic cornerback Asher Allen would return from his concussion.
Caleb King, a rookie running back from Georgia, will replace Peterson on the 53-man roster to back up Toby Gerhart and Lorenzo Booker.
Cullen Loeffler's out with a serious back injury. And Jared Allen's worth comes far more from his pass rushing skills than from his ability to long snap. So the Vikings made a necessary move this afternoon, signing Matt Katula as their new long snapper.
Scott Smith, Katula's agent, was the first to announce the signing on Twitter.
We will have more information on additional Vikings roster moves shortly.
The Vikings waived third-year backup center Jon Cooper this afternoon, and announced the signing of six-year veteran center Joe Berger.
Berger started 14 games at center for the Miami Dolphins last year. Berger survived the Dolphins' final cut this year, but then was released when they added -- get this -- former Viking Ryan Cook.
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said, at the time, he viewed Cook as an upgrade.
Berger, who is 6-5 and 315 pounds, was taken in the sixth round of the 2005 draft by Carolina. The Dolphins picked him up that year off Carolina's practice squad and he played in three games, but was cut and picked up by the Cowboys in 2006. He played three games for Dallas before signing with Miami again in 2009 as a free agent, and started 20 games. He is considered versatile enough to play most positions on the line.
Berger might be one of the smarter players in the NFL. He graduated magna cum laude from Michigan Tech with an engineering degree.
The Vikings signed Cooper as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He played in 12 games last year, starting one at center. He was active yesterday against San Diego, but did not play.
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