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

Tight end Kyle Rudolph among today's inactives for Vikings

Posted by: Updated: November 27, 2011 - 10:34 AM

The Vikings’ inactive list has just been released at the Georgia Dome with several key players out.

Not surprisingly, running back Adrian Peterson (ankle), safety Husain Abdullah (concussion) and guard Anthony Herrera (knee) will sit out today. Peterson suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s home loss to Oakland. Abdullah had his bell rung in Week 10 at Green Bay. And Herrera hasn’t played since Week 7, still working back from a lateral collateral ligament injury in his left knee.

Joining that trio on the inactive list today are tight end Kyle Rudolph, offensive tackle DeMarcus Love, defensive end D’Aundre Reed and cornerback Chris Cook.

Toby Gerhart will start in place of Peterson. Tyrell Johnson will fill in for Abdullah. And Joe Berger will once again assume Herrera’s role at right guard.

Benny's back: Sapp gets the call to aid shaken Vikings secondary

Posted by: Updated: November 16, 2011 - 1:21 PM

We'll have more extensive coverage of Benny Sapp’s excited return to the Twin Cities later this evening and into tomorrow morning. For now, suffice it to say Sapp is more than a little thrilled to be back playing football again. He was last seen in NFL in Week 1 as a Miami Dolphin, torched by Tom Brady and the Patriots in a 38-24 loss that saw Brady pass for 517 yards and four TDs.

Sapp’s explanation: “My personal opinion, I just tried to get a little too cute. Probably one of my baddest games I’ve had in my career. I don’t know. Just tried to get a little too cute.”
Now? With Antoine Winfield placed on injured reserve Wednesday following surgery to repair a broken clavicle and Chris Cook still exiled from the team with his personal and legal issues, Sapp has been pulled off the scrap heap, asked to bolster a shaken Vikings secondary. The Vikings rank 30th in the NFL in pass defense (272.8 ypg) and have given up 1,180 passing yards and 12 TDs since recording their last interception.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And so Sapp reemerged in the locker room Wednesday morning, greeted warmly by several teammates. Sapp played for the Vikings in 2008 and 2009.
“Words can’t describe how happy I am to have him here and have him back,” safety Jamarca Sanford said. “He was one of my best friends before he left. It hurt me when he left. To have him back, it’s perfect. He’s a guy who brings excitement and just brings energy and fun to the team.
Added linebacker Erin Henderson: “He’s generally a good guy and a joy to have around the locker room.”
As for Sapp’s whereabouts since getting cut from Miami in mid-September, he’s been staying in shape, he said, simply by coaching and working out with his 11-year-old son, Benny Sapp III.
Asked the biggest challenge of trying to get up to speed this week before the Vikings’ Sunday home game with Oakland, Sapp shrugged and laughed.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “It’s been two months and I really haven’t covered a receiver yet. So I really couldn’t tell you. The only receiver I have been covering is an 11-year-old.”
The follow-up question was obvious: could he at least keep Benny III locked up?
“Most definitely,” he said. “That’s one thing I’m going to do until the end. I’m never going to let my son beat me in anything.”
It remains to be seen how quickly or how extensively the Vikings will work Sapp back into their secondary rotation. That's something the coaching staff won't decide until they get a chance to have Sapp practice for a few days.
In other news from Leslie Frazier's regular Wednesday press conference:
  • If free safety Husain Abdullah (concussion) isn't able to play, Frazier said Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson would likely  play alongside each other like they did after Abdullah was injured Monday night. Sanford and Johnson split time at strong safety when Abdullah is healthy. Rookie Mistral Raymond would also rotate in, but only at the free safety position. "We'd leave him at free for now," Frazier said. "That's where he's had most of his reps."
  • Frazier expects Antoine Winfield to be around the team after he has recovered from today's season-ending surgery. "Once he’s back and able to come around, we’d love to have him be around and encourage the guys who are going to be playing," Frazier said. "In the past, when he’s had injuries, that’s exactly what he’s done, he’s tried to encourage his teammates. I would expect him to do the same when his surgery is over and he’s able to come back in the building."
  • The Vikings will wait until Friday or Saturday before deciding whether it's necessary to sign a long-snapper. Cullen Loeffler, who has handled every special teams snap since winning the job in 2004, injured a rotator cuff and isn't expected to practice until Thursday or Friday.


Winfield, Sanford, Sullivan and Berrian all inactive today versus Packers

Posted by: Updated: October 23, 2011 - 1:56 PM

The inactive list has just been released at Mall of America Field and as was expected Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield, safety Jamarca Sanford and center John Sullivan will not play today against the Packers. All three players are dealing with injuries. Meanwhile, cornerback Chris Cook remains in jail after his Saturday morning arrest on domestic assault charges. That leaves the Vikings to take on undefeated Green Bay without four key starters.

Furthermore, for the second time in three weeks, receiver Bernard Berrian is also inactive.

Winfield is inactive for the third straight week. He injured his neck in the Vikings' Oct. 2 loss in Kansas City and is sitll being labeled as day-to-day by head coach Leslie Frazier. Sanford and Sullivan, meanwhile, each suffered concussions in last Sunday's 39-10 loss in Chicago and will be held out this afternoon as a result. Joe Berger will start in Sullivan's place.

In the secondary, with Winfield and Cook both out, the Vikings will have Asher Allen starting opposite Cedric Griffin. Tyrell Johnson will replace Sanford and join Husain Abdullah at safety. The Vikings will also have to lean heavily on Marcus Sherels and Brandon Burton as they try to slow Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' prolific passing attack.

Berrian's status on the inactive list registers as somewhat surprising but not all that much. He was held out of the Vikings' Week 5 win over Arizona for disciplinary reasons. But last week in Chicago he returned to action with his best game of 2011, catching five passes for 54 yards. Now? He's back in street clothes on game day.

Other Vikings inactives are tackle DeMarcus Love and defensive end D'Aundre Reed.

Inactives for the Packers are: corner Sam Shields, left tackle Chad Clifton, defensive end Mike Neal, guard Ray Dominguez and linebackers Frank Zombo, Jamari Lattimore and Robert Francis.

Chris Cook arrested on domestic assault charges, likely to miss Sunday's game

Posted by: Updated: October 22, 2011 - 5:02 PM

Vikings cornerback Chris Cook was arrested on two domestic assault charges and booked into the Hennepin County Jail early Saturday morning. Cook is being held without bail and will not appear in court until Monday morning, meaning he will almost certainly miss Sunday's game with the Green Bay Packers at Mall of America Field.

The Vikings released a statement this morning: "The Minnesota Vikings are aware of the incident involving Chris Cook. We take this matter very seriously and are still gathering all the details of the incident. We will not have any further comment at this time."

Hennepin County jail records indicate Cook was arrested by Eden Prairie Police, booked at 4:06 a.m. and is being held without bail until his court appearance Monday at 8:15 a.m. The 24-year-old Cook is still in custody. And records show a description of one charge as "DOMESTIC ASSAULT-MISDEMEANOR-INTENTIONALLY INFLICTS/ATTEMPTS TO INFLICT BODILY HARM ON ANOTHER."

According to authorities, Eden Prairie Police responded to a call at 1:42 a.m. with reports of yelling and screaming and arrested Cook around 2:10 a.m.

In March, Cook was accused of pulling a gun on a neighbor during a verbal altercation while near his mother's home in Lynchburg, Va.

"It's just crazy," Cook said after that incident. "I just have to deal with it the best way I can. I wish it didn't happen. I wish I would have never got in an argument, but that's what happened."

Two months later, he was found not guilty when a judge determined there was insufficient evidence to confirm the accusation.

"It definitely will make me smarter about how I react to other people and what they say to me or what they try and do to me," Cook said then. "It just makes me more cautious about what I say or how I react to other people."

The Star Tribune continues to gather details on Cook's most recent arrest. A voice message has been left with Cook's agent.

News of Cook's transgression is troubling on multiple levels. As it relates to the Vikings' Sunday game with the Packers, it's yet another blow to the team's depleted secondary. Cornerback Antoine Winfield and safety Jamarca Sanford are already listed as doubtful with injuries. Add in Cook's likely absence and the Vikings will be left to face Green Bay's lethal passing attack with a starting secondary of corners Cedric Griffin and Asher Allen and safeties Husain Abdullah and Tyrell Johnson. Marcus Sherels would be the third cornerback. And rookie safety Mistral Raymond will likely be active for the first time this season as well.

(UPDATE, 1:20 p.m.: Cook has officially been ruled out for Sunday' s game, according to team spokesman Bob Hagan. An Eden Prairie Police spokesperson also has confirmed that Cook is being held on probable cause for domestic assault/strangulation, a felony-level offense. He also faces a charge of fifth-degree domestic assault, a misdemeanor.)


Winfield, Sullivan, Sanford doubtful

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: October 21, 2011 - 1:27 PM

Half of the Vikings' starting defensive backs are listed as doubtful heading into Sunday's game against the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who leads the NFL in passer rating (122.5), completion percentage (70.2), yards per attempt (9.76) and touchdowns (17).

Cornerback Antoine Winfield (neck) was limited again in practice but looks like he'll miss his third consecutive game. Meanwhile, strong safety Jamarca Sanford also is doubtful because he has yet to complete the third-party concussion exam that mandatory per NFL rules.

That's not a good way to go into a game against the Packers. Rodgers' 17 touchdowns have gone to six different players and averaged 30.8 yards per score.

"They do a lot of four- and five-wideout sets, more than most teams," coach Leslie Fraizer said. "You like to have all hands on deck, but the guys who are going to play are going to be ready to go. They're going to have to step up and play big for us."

Other highlights from today:

  • Also listed as doubtful is center John Sullivan. He also hasn't completed his third-part concussion exam. He and Sanford will try to complete it on Saturday, but it's not looking good.
  • Listed as probable after being limited in practice were RT Phil Loadholt (knee), receiver Percy Harvin (ribs), linebacker Kenny Onatolu (hamstring) and linebacker E.J. Henderson (knee). Guard Steve Hutchinson (knee) also is probable, but had full participation in practice.
  • Although Loadholt is probable, Frazier declared him "good to go."
  • If Sullivan and Sanford can't play, Joe Berger and Tyrell Johnson would start at center and strong safety, respectively. If Winfield sits out, Chris Cook would get his third consecutive start.
  • Frazier said if Sanford can't play, rookie Mistral Raymond probably would be active for the first time this season.
  • Frazier said Henderson didn't show as much "explosion" while covering the deep middle in his return to the nickel defense last week. Frazier said it's a "strong possibility" that Erin Henderson will go back to playing most of the reps at middle linebacker in the nickel.




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