Access Vikings

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.


QBs on display at Vikings preseason game

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 7th at 1:36pm 270333541

Most of us call ‘em meaningless games. Of course, most of us don’t have to stand there and throw a football while 280-pound men charge at us with the goal being to break us in half.

So let’s just say a quarterback’s protection calls are pretty darn meaningful whether the NFL counts the games or not.

“Protection calls are always the most important thing for a quarterback to know,” Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel said Wednesday. “There’s no doubt about that. But I think the offensive line has done a tremendous job this entire camp picking up the calls and knowing where to go. I don’t expect that to change.”

Cassel, the tentative No. 1 quarterback, will continue his competition with rookie first-round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater in Friday night’s preseason opener against the Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium.

Cassel will start and play until coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner are comfortable with what they see relative to this being the preseason opener. Bridgewater will see reps with the first-team and could play a couple of quarters. Christian Ponder, the distant No. 3, probably will play the fourth quarter.

Naturally, most of the attention will be focused on Bridgewater, the No. 32 pick.

When asked if he had butterflies, he said, “Not at all.” When asked if he’ll be nervous, he said, “Not at all.” He wasn’t asked to repeat the questions while hooked up to a lie detector.

“This is a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old and just been waiting for this morning. I’m pretty excited. I can’t wait.

“I was actually talking to Xavier Rhodes at dinner two nights ago and he was more nervous for me than I was for myself.”

As a backup for most of his career, Cassel has seen a lot of preseason action over the years. He said he still doesn’t know what to expect as far as how aggressive defenses will be when it comes to showing their blitz packages.

“Some [keep it simple], some don’t,” Cassel said. “A lot of teams will try out a lot of blitzes in these games. You have to be prepared for anything. You go back and watch previous preseason games and also what they did in the previous year and try to get a feel for their personnel and what they do. But the first preseason game, you never know what you’re going to get.”

The protection calls and adjustments at the line of scrimmage are made by the center and the quarterback. Bridgewater, coaches say, has stayed up to speed in that regard in training camp.

“It’s very important,” Bridgewater said. “I haven’t taken a hit yet in the National Football League. It feels like 100 years since I actually have taken a hit, since my college bowl game.

“So I’m just looking forward Friday night and making sure I’m sharp within the protections. There’s going to be a lot asked of the quarterbacks, but in training camp, we’ve been doing good and playing exceptional football. I’m pretty sure Friday night will be a good night.”


Buffalo 11/13/14 7:25 PM
Minnesota 11/16/14 12:00 PM
Houston 11/16/14 12:00 PM
Seattle 11/16/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Atlanta 11/16/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/16/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tampa Bay 11/16/14 12:00 PM
Denver 11/16/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
San Francisco 11/16/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Oakland 11/16/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Philadelphia 11/16/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Detroit 11/16/14 3:25 PM
New England 11/16/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh 11/17/14 7:30 PM
Orlando 6:30 PM
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Sacramento 7:30 PM
Charlotte 9:00 PM
San Antonio 9:30 PM
Golden State
Minnesota 0 1st Prd 1:52
New Jersey 0
Colorado 0 1st Prd 4:01
NY Islanders 2
Pittsburgh 0 1st Prd 5:03
NY Rangers 3
Columbus 1 1st Prd 6:07
Washington 2
Winnipeg 6:30 PM
San Jose 6:30 PM
Buffalo 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas 8:00 PM
Ottawa 9:00 PM
Akron 7:00 PM
Toledo 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Kent State 11/12/14 7:00 PM
Bowling Green
Ball State 11/12/14 7:00 PM
East Carolina 11/13/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss 11/13/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
California 11/13/14 8:00 PM
Tulsa 11/14/14 7:00 PM
Army 11/15/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
(8) Ohio State 11/15/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 11/15/14 11:00 AM
So Carolina 11/15/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech 11/15/14 11:00 AM
(19) Duke
Temple 11/15/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
(18) Clemson 11/15/14 11:00 AM
(24) Georgia Tech
Pittsburgh 11/15/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Miami-Ohio 11/15/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich
Nevada 11/15/14 1:00 PM
Air Force
Eastern Mich 11/15/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Rice 11/15/14 1:30 PM
(21) Marshall
(5) TCU 11/15/14 2:00 PM
Wake Forest 11/15/14 2:00 PM
NC State
Appalachian St 11/15/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
Washington 11/15/14 2:30 PM
(17) Arizona
(1) Miss State 11/15/14 2:30 PM
(4) Alabama
Northwestern 11/15/14 2:30 PM
(15) Notre Dame
(11) Nebraska 11/15/14 2:30 PM
(22) Wisconsin
Ga Southern 11/15/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma 11/15/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Indiana 11/15/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee 11/15/14 2:30 PM
Memphis 11/15/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky 11/15/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico 11/15/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Hawaii 11/15/14 3:30 PM
San Jose St
Troy 11/15/14 4:00 PM
(25) Utah 11/15/14 5:00 PM
UNLV 11/15/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana 11/15/14 6:00 PM
(9) Auburn 11/15/14 6:15 PM
(16) Georgia
Missouri 11/15/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
Texas 11/15/14 6:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas State 11/15/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
(20) LSU 11/15/14 7:00 PM
(12) Michigan State 11/15/14 7:00 PM
(2) Florida State 11/15/14 7:00 PM
So Florida 11/15/14 7:00 PM
North Texas 11/15/14 9:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
San Diego St 11/15/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
(7) Arizona State 11/15/14 9:45 PM
Oregon State
Massachusetts 11/18/14 7:00 PM
Northern Ill 11/18/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Brt Columbia 11/16/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 11/16/14 3:30 PM


question of the day

Poll: With Brian Setzer opening his Christmas tour Friday in Minneapolis, what’s the earliest you want to hear holiday music in concert?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters