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.
First, Adrian Peterson runs for 2,097 yards a year after having major knee surgery. Then he does something almost as amazing: Getting 50 reporters from theNFL media world to agree on something.
All 50 members of the Associated Press' All-Pro selection committee, including myself, picked Peterson for their All-Pro team. The only other unanimous All-Pro selection was Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate with 20.5 sacks and 16 pass deflections. Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who had 122 catches for an NFL-record 1,964 yards, fell one vote short of a unanimous selection.
Meanwhile, Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh was named to the first team with 42 votes. Vikings fullback Jerome Felton and outside linebacker Chad Greenway were named to the second team.
Felton got 12 votes and finished behind Ravens fullback Vonta Leach, who received 26. Greenway received only two votes, which was enough to earn second team behind first-teamers Von Viller of Denver (48 votes) and Aldon Smith of San Francisco (47). The other second-team outside linebackers -- Green Bay's Clay Matthews, Dallas' DeMarcus Ware and San Francisco's Ahmad Brooks -- each received one vote.
At quarterback, Peyton Manning earned first team with 43 votes. Aaron Rodgers made second team with only four votes. Tom Brady received only three votes.
Vikings center John Sullivan was thought to have a shot at one of the top two teams, but fell short. Seattle's Max Unger made first team with 16 votes, while Pittsburgh's Maurkice Pouncey was second team with 10 votes.
Sullivan received seven votes, which tied him for third. Here's the breakdown of votes by position.
Chad Greenway is Pro Bowl bound after all. For the second year in a row, Greenway will head to Hawaii as an alternate, given the nod this afternoon after Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware pulled out of the game.
Greenway delivered a terrific 2012 campaign. The Vikings credited him with a team-best 191 tackles plus seven for loss and three sacks. It was a season worthy of serious Pro Bowl consideration. But Greenway didn’t make the NFC roster after fan and player voting was completed, handicapped in big part by logistics that group traditional linebackers together with defensive-end types that play outside linebacker in 3-4 systems.
San Francisco’s Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman earned the two NFC roster spots at inside linebacker.
The outside linebacker selections were Ware, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and San Francisco’s Aldon Smith. Now, with Ware pulling out of the all-star contest, Greenway gets the call. He’ll be one of five Vikings to play in the Pro Bowl joining Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Blair Walsh and Jerome Felton.
Greenway becomes the first Vikings linebacker to attend back-to-back Pro Bowls since Scott Studwell went in 1987 and 1988.
It's safe to say Vikings coaches and players didn't have to labor too hard when asked recently to vote on their team Players of the Year for offense, defense and special teams. On Thursday, during a gab session with reporters, General Manager Rick Spielman announced the winners of those awards.
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson.
Defensive Player of the Year: Chad Greenway.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Blair Walsh.
No real shockers. Peterson, a leading candidate for league MVP honors, rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also tied a league record with seven runs of 50 yards or longer and was the catalyst of the Vikings' push to get into the playoffs. Oh, and if you hadn't heard, Peterson accomplished all that while coming back from major reconstructive knee surgery following tears of his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments during the Vikings' penultimate game in 2011.
Greenway continued his ascension as a player this season by leading the Vikings in tackles and stabilizing a defense that made marked improvements in 2012. The Vikings credited Greenway with 191 tackles, seven for loss and three sacks. Official NFL stats recorded 148 Greenway tackles, third best in the league behind Carolina's Luke Kuechly (164) and San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman (149).
Walsh? A sixth-round draft pick last April, he'll be headed for the Pro Bowl in two weeks after an impressive rookie campaign in which he hit 35 of his 38 field goal attempts, including all 10 from 50 yards or beyond. He also produced 53 touchbacks on 86 kickoffs.
Most NFL players love being picked for the Pro Bowl, but hate actually playing in the Pro Bowl. So alternates tend to have a very good chance of ending up in the game.
The Vikings have three alternates. They are linebacker Chad Greenway, who made his Pro Bowl debut last year; rookie left tackle Matt Kalil; and center John Sullivan, who would be making his first appearance.
Greenway's Pro Bowl debut came when he had 174 tackles a year ago. This year, he's even better with more big plays, not to mention a career-high and team-leading 181 tackles. He'll finish as the team's leading tackler for the fifth straight season, second-longest in team history behind the six straight years that Scott Studwell led the team in tackles.
Kalil has started all 15 games and hasn't had his name mentioned much in a long time. Unlike rookie QBs Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, not getting noticed sort of defines outstanding play for a rookie left tackle.
If Sullivan gets in, it would be his first Pro Bowl in a five-year career that's saw him go from being a sometimes overmatched smallish late-round draft pick early on to a legitimate long-term answer as Matt Birk's replacement. A Pro Bowl berth for Sullivan also would be a deserving feat considering he's the best and most consistent linemen on a team that has a running back that's 102 yards from becoming the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards.
Yesterday, it was announced the defensive end Jared Allen, kicker Blair Walsh, fullback Jerome Felton and running back Adrian Peterson had been voted into the Pro Bowl.
Vikings players are consistent when it comes to applauding the consistency with which coach Leslie Frazier does his job. Never too high, never too low. Just delivering a consistent message week after week.
"I think it's a big deal," Frazier said when asked to describe the importance of a consistent message. "Just going back to my playing days and being around coaches who sometimes they could be so up and down. You didn't know when you walked in the building what you were going to get from day to day. That's hard on a team over the course of a long season. There are so many ebbs and flows during a season.
"As a player, if you're not certain what your leader's message is going to be and how he's going to react in certain situations, you can be walking around on pins and needles and be more concerned about how he's going to react to certain situations as opposed to focusing on the task at hand, which is your next opponent. So I think it's a big deal. They need to know what to expect from me in just about every situation. Then they can concentrate on what's important, which is trying to get a win."
FYI: They'll take the win over the record: Frazier said he wants Adrian Peterson to get the 208 yards necessary to break Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season record of 2,105 yards. However ...
"I think the biggest consideration has to be winning this game," he said. "Finding a way to get a win. If the record comes along with the win, that would be great. But not at the expense of winning the game. We got to approach this with whatever it takes to get a win. And Adrian wants that too. He'd love to have the record, but he's the ultimate team guy. He wants to get the win. I hope he gets the record but even moreso I want us to win this game."
Expecting better run defense from Cheeseheads: Frazier said he expects a lot of teams to look at how the Texans handled Peterson on Sunday. Peterson ran for 86 yards on 25 carries, snapping a streak of eight consecutive games with at least 100 yards.
"But like I said on Monday, a lot of it in our business is personnel," Frazier said. "[Texans defenders] Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt are very good players and they did a good job. But Green Bay, they have good personnel as well."
On Dec. 2, Peterson ran for 210 yards in a loss at Lambeau Field. The rematch -- in case you haven't heard -- is Sunday at the Metrodome.
"[The Packers] have played good defense all season long and we're going to have a tremendous challenge on our hands," Frazier said. "I'm sure they're going to put a lot of people in the box and do everything they can to not let what happened in that first game happen again. So it's going to be a challenge for our run game."
Going 4-2 without Percy Harvin has been an adjustment period: Hard to believe, but the Vikings actually are 4-2 without Percy Harvin, their second-best player.
Said Frazier: "It's been an adjustment for all of us. [Offensive coordinator] Bill [Musgrave] calling plays and for everybody involved because Percy was so integral to our success as an offense. But as a whole, we made those adjustments and we're getting better. That's what you want to see, but Percy was a big part of our success."
From an injury standpoint, Frazier offered the following updates. We'll have more updates when the injury report is released after today's practice:
Greenway wins Korey Stringer Good Guy Award: Linebacker Chad Greenway won this year's Korey Stringer "Good Guy Award," which is voted on by members of the Twin Cities media that cover the Vikings. The award goes to the player who best exemplifies the effort and positive attitude that Stringer had in dealing with the media. Stringer died Aug. 1, 2001, a day after suffering heat stroke on the field in Mankato during training camp.
"I just had a chance to talk to [linebackers coach] Fred Pagac, who recruited [Stringer] to Ohio State," Greenway said. "He said he was a great guy, not just a good guy. He was the type of guy that people wanted to be like and be around. So obviously to win an award in honor of his name is pretty exciting to me. It means a lot to me and my family to win this award."
Said Frazier: "Well deserved award by Chad. He's a super guy and does a terrific job with the media. Well deserved. A great honor, receiving that award in honor of Korey, who was a terrific player and terrific person as well."
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