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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.


Vikings 4 Downs: Bridgewater vs. Manziel, Faciane, Simpson, Felton

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated August 11th at 4:14pm 270795731

I’d give the edge to Johnny Manziel, but not by much. Here’s how each fared in the box score.

Manziel vs. the Lions: 7/11, 63 yards, 79.0 QB rating; six carries, 27 yards
Bridgewater vs. the Raiders: 6/13, 49 yards, 56.2 rating; two sacks for 16 yards, one fumble.

Both Teddy Bridgewater and Manziel showed flashes of what we were accustomed to see in college. Each had a smooth play-action, rollout pass (Bridgewater to his right and Manziel to his left) that was negated by either a penalty or an incompletion. Manziel was able to do more with his feet, including a 16-yard scramble on third down. Bridgewater was elusive, displaying some of his athleticism to escape pressure in the pocket and extend plays and did a good job selling play actions, draws, fake tosses and counters.

Bridgewater’s fumble on his first drive was the biggest mistake made by the two rookies. Left tackle Matt Kalil got beat by rookie defensive end Shelby Harris. With the pocket collapsing, Bridgewater spun to his right to avoid pressure up the middle and was hit by Harris to cause the fumble. Kalil recovered the fumble, but Bridgewater must protect the ball better in those situations. The 12-yard loss made it 3rd and 19 at the 20. They settled for a field goal on the drive.

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On 3rd and 16, Manziel drew a delay-of-game penalty. Following a quick screen pass that gained 20 yards, Manziel scrambled for a first down on a bootleg play. He stiff armed a defender and gained just enough to move the sticks, but Manziel had fullback Ray Agnew open. It’s a throw he has to make now rather than relying on his athletic ability.
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Comparing Bridgewater and Manziel in the preseason though would be like analyzing a sparring session when the fight is less than a month away. There’s some information you can take away from it, but avoid jumping to conclusions one way or the other.

I’d be shocked if wide receiver Adam Thielen didn’t make the team. He’s earned it up to this point and even could be used as more than just a special teamer (more on that later).

I’ll go with undrafted free agent defensive tackle Isame Faciane. He had 20 snaps with 17 against the pass, per Pro Football Focus. Faciane recorded a pass deflection and brought pressure up the middle a few times to stand out along the defensive line in the second half. He’s listed behind Kheeston Randall as the third defensive tackle on the depth chart. His college defensive line coach at FIU was Andre Patterson, the Vikings defensive line coach. The familiarity definitely does help Faciane’s case if he can build off Friday’s performance.

Yes he does, but to what extent and for how long is still unknown. When the Vikings went three wide on the opening drive, Simpson was on the field for both plays. He was lined up outside with Greg Jennings shifting to the slot.

Based off practices, offensive coordinator Norv Turner can always use as many wide receivers as possible with all the different alignments incorporated in the scheme. Simpson is still a productive player, though at times drops have still been a problem, and stretch the field.

Cordarelle Patterson and Jennings are clearly the top two receivers. Wright, like Simpson, can also spread the field with his quickness. Thielen’s stock keeps rising with every rep he gets in practice and will be interesting to see how many reps he gets on offense at the start of the season.

Pending any discipline from the NFL, Simpson will probably begin the season as the third receiver, followed by Wright and Thielen in four and five-wide packages.

It’s a possibility. Fullback Jerome Felton received 10 reps in the preseason opener, though he’s been involved with the offense for a decent amount during training camp. Turner’s offense features a good dose of plays with two running backs, whether split or in the “I” formation. Felton is limited to just a blocker though, where someone like running back Matt Asiata, who looked good on the first drive, can do it all and give Turner more options. Felton is a good blocker, but he doesn’t benefit much from the new scheme as a traditional fullback.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 41 3rd Qtr 7:11
Memphis 58
Chicago 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Montreal 0 3rd Prd 9:32
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 3rd Prd 8:21
Philadelphia 4
Boston 4 3rd Prd 6:15
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 0 3rd Prd
Toronto 1
Dallas 3 3rd Prd
Ottawa 2
Detroit 1 3rd Prd
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 3rd Prd
Florida 2
Nashville 2 2nd Prd 11:21
St. Louis 1
Minnesota 1 1st Prd 11:01
Calgary 0
Buffalo 8:30 PM
Anaheim 9:00 PM
San Jose
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 82 1st OT 0:38
Detroit 85
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 51 2nd Half 1:00
Loyola-Maryland 56
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 48 2nd Half 11:28
Belmont 69
Connecticut 30 2nd Half 13:35
Cincinnati 39
Rider 30 2nd Half 12:32
Saint Peters 33
SIU Edwardsville 54 2nd Half 9:31
SE Missouri St 42
Marshall 55 2nd Half 8:39
Southern Miss 37
Tenn Tech 42 2nd Half 7:32
Tennessee St 53
Middle Tennessee 41 2nd Half 15:21
TX-San Antonio 44
Ill-Chicago 43 2nd Half 11:22
Milwaukee 44
Weber State 43 2nd Half 9:50
North Dakota 47
Denver 36 2nd Half 10:15
North Dakota St 29
IUPU-Ft Wayne 54 2nd Half 8:11
South Dakota 43
Louisiana 50 2nd Half 14:20
South Alabama 46
Ark-Little Rock 37 2nd Half
Arkansas State 38
Georgia State 34 2nd Half
Texas-Arlington 38
ULM 15 1st Half 3:30
Troy 25
Portland 12 1st Half 9:30
Gonzaga 17
Kentucky 10 1st Half 11:58
Missouri 7
Eastern Ky 11 1st Half 13:23
Murray State 7
UAB 15 1st Half 11:49
Texas-El Paso 10
Idaho State 16 1st Half 10:45
Northern Colorado 18
UMKC 10 1st Half 12:07
Grand Canyon 14
Chicago State 6 1st Half 14:11
Utah Valley U 14
Colorado 8:30 PM
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
San Diego
Utah 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Montana 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana State 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Long Beach State 9:30 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Loyola Marymount 9:30 PM
St Marys-CA
San Francisco 10:00 PM
California 10:00 PM
Washington St
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
(24) Oklahoma 78 2nd OT 2:37
(14) Texas 76
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Lamar 79 2nd Half 1:17
Sam Houston St 63
Vanderbilt 27 2nd Half 12:45
(18) Miss State 39
IUPUI 45 2nd Half 9:32
Western Ill 53
Abilene Christian 34 2nd Half 9:10
Houston Baptist 46
Incarnate Word 41 2nd Half 7:58
TX A&M-CC 49
McNeese State 55 2nd Half 8:41
SE Louisiana 43
Oral Roberts 32 2nd Half 10:46
South Dakota St 56
Louisiana Tech 49 2nd Half 12:19
Western Ky 47
TX-San Antonio 32 2nd Half 11:41
Middle Tennessee 40
Texas-El Paso 35 2nd Half 14:45
UAB 41
Auburn 24 2nd Half 14:04
Arkansas 35
Grand Canyon 45 2nd Half 11:56
Illinois 45 2nd Half 11:50
(15) Nebraska 40
(20) Iowa 71 2nd Half 11:52
Northwestern 62
Utah Valley U 36 2nd Half 12:00
Chicago State 38
Green Bay 54 2nd Half 11:25
Valparaiso 30
Ole Miss 4 1st Half 15:19
Portland State 2 1st Half 11:24
Montana 22
Sacramento St 9 1st Half 14:34
Montana State 17
North Dakota 6 1st Half 13:19
Weber State 12
Ohio State 24 1st Half 10:16
Wisconsin 11
Northern Colorado 14 1st Half 10:14
Idaho State 18
BYU 9:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Pacific 9:00 PM
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 10:59 PM


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