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.


Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Bridgewater sidelined again, Robinson playing well and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated October 1st at 7:04am 277724331

Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.


— Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater missed practice for a second straight day.

— Packers QB Aaron Rodgers might not recognize this Vikings defense.

— CB Josh Robinson might be the most improved player under head coach Mike Zimmer.

— CB Captain Munnerlyn was back at practice after a bout with food poisoning.

— Here are five Vikings stats that stand out this week.



— Packers WR Randall Cobb is showing how dangerous he can be.

— RB Eddie Lacy and the Packers’ running game is still stuck in neutral.

— Packers head coach Mike McCarthy wants RB James Starks to be more involved.

— Vikings WR Greg Jennings’ latest comments might not sit well with Packers fans.


The Vikings have, in Zimmer’s words, “a jog-through” today before heading to Green Bay tomorrow.


The Vikings have gained 10 yards or more on 63.6 percent of Bridgewater’s completions this season. That is the highest rate in the league. The next highest among starters is 55.7 percent and the league average is 46.5 percent. So yeah, Teddy has done OK so far.

These days, rookie QBs 'a lot more prepared' than Rodgers was

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 30th at 3:26pm 277635021

The way NFL quarterbacks are groomed — specifically the timetables on which that grooming takes place — has drastically changed since the Packers took Aaron Rodgers in the first round in 2005.

Not that you need the history lesson, but Rodgers was considered to be candidate to be the top pick during the draft process but fell into the back end of the first round, much like Teddy Bridgewater did this past spring. The Packers had Brett Favre, but decided Rodgers was too good to pass up.

Seeing a first-round QB sit and watch for three years before starting was a rare occurrence even then, but about a decade later, it has become a question of when and not if they start as a rookie.

All nine of the quarterbacks selected in the first round from 2011 and 2013 started at least five games as rookies. And in 2014, two of the three first-round quarterbacks were starting by Week 4.

On a conference call with Minnesota media, Rodgers, while admitting he hasn’t seen Bridgewater play a single NFL snap, said he would not have been as prepared to start right away back in 2005.

“Definitely not as prepared as the guys are now,” the 30-year-old said. “The guys coming out now are a lot more prepared than maybe myself and Alex Smith and Jason Campbell, the three guys who went in the first round in 2005; we’re all still in the league and still playing. But definitely, you look at some of the guys who have been starting the past few years, they’re a lot more prepared.”

Rodgers figures the reason is that offensive schemes at the high-school and college levels have become more advanced and young quarterbacks are asked to read more at the line of scrimmage.

“And, obviously, we’ve seen some guys step in the past few years and really play well in their first, second and third years,” said Rodgers, who is now in his seventh season as the Packers’ starter.

So far, so good for Bridgewater, who has yet to show any rookie jitters in his young NFL career.

Bridgewater sits out again, but Munnerlyn is back

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 30th at 3:46pm 277629901

Despite saying earlier today that he feels much better than he did on Sunday, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater sat out practice for a second straight day due to a sprained left ankle.

Head coach Mike Zimmer hinted that Bridgewater might be at practice tomorrow.

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who came down with a bout of food poisoning Sunday night, returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out yesterday. He said earlier that he feels fine now.

Running back Jerick McKinnon, who was limited by an ankle injury yesterday, was limited again at today’s workout. Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) was also limited for a second straight day.

Outside linebacker Chad Greenway (ribs) missed another practice and could sit out a second straight game. Tight end Kyle Rudolph (sports hernia surgery) was also absent from practice, of course.

Outside linebackers Michael Mauti (foot) and Brandon Watts (knee), fullback Jerome Felton (knee) and wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring) were all listed as full participants on the injury report.

Bridgewater's ankle improving, status still unknown

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 30th at 4:59pm 277620751

Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater won’t place a percentage on his chances to play Thursday against the Packers, but he feels the ankle has made progress.

“I’m much further ahead than I was Sunday,” Bridgewater said.

The Vikings have a quick turnaround after defeating the Falcons, 41-28, on Sunday. In that game, Bridgewater suffered the ankle injury on a quarterback sneak in the goal line. Bridgewater said he’ll run for the first time on Tuesday after rehabbing the ankle indoors with flexibility exercises.

“Teddy’s doing much better,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “If he can play, he’ll play.”

Bridgewater said he hasn’t pushed off the ankle or thrown a pass this week. He didn’t practice on Monday. Zimmer said Bridgewater will receive more mental reps at practice on Tuesday.

“We have a long time until Thursday, so I just want to continue to rehab, do a little exercising today and see where I am these next couple of days,” Bridgewater said.

Bridgewater, along with running back Jerick McKinnon with his 135-yard rushing performance, is up for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week award (You can vote here on the award). He became just the second quarterback to throw for over 300 yards, 317, and zero interceptions in his first career start.

If the rookie is ruled out against the Packers, quarterback Christian Ponder will get the start. Ponder replaced Bridgewater against the Falcons and finished the game.

“I’ve felt like I’ve paid attention in practice the whole time taking a lot of mental reps,” Ponder said. “So I feel like I’m pretty confident in what I’m doing.

Five Vikings stats that stand out for Week 5

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 30th at 9:28am 277589861

Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.

12 — passes completed beyond 10 yards for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

One of the biggest differences between Bridgewater and Matt Cassel has been Bridgewater’s ability to push the ball down the field. According to ESPN, Cassel completed just one of his 11 attempts thrown beyond 10 yards with three interceptions before breaking his foot in Week 3. Bridgewater, meanwhile, has completed 12 of 17 such attempts for 231 yards with no picks and hit on two of his five passes beyond 20 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Sure, those numbers are inflated by his 8-for-12 showing against a poor Falcons pass defense. But still, Bridgewater has impressed.

135 — rushing yards for the Vikings through the “A” gaps during Sunday’s win.

The Vikings rushed for a season-high 241 yards and four touchdowns on 44 carries Sunday, and they did more than half of that damage running behind center John Sullivan, who is quietly having another steady season. The Vikings rushed for 135 yards on 16 carries through the “A” gaps on either side of Sullivan, including rookie running back Jerick McKinnon’s 55-yard gain in the second quarter. The Vikings averaged 8.4 yards per carry behind Sullivan and 3.8 running it anywhere else.

six — completions allowed by cornerback Josh Robinson so far this season.

After a finicky hamstring flared up throughout training camp, Robinson drew the ire of head coach Mike Zimmer. But surprisingly, Robinson has gone from being “the other guy” to playing like “the man,” at least through four games. Robinson, the team’s third cornerback, has allowed just six receptions for 68 yards in coverage on 14 targets, according to Pro Football Focus. He has a pair of interceptions, too. Quarterbacks have a paltry passer rating of 18.5 when targeting Robinson.

one — quarterback hits surrendered by the Vikings offensive line on Sunday.

The play of left tackle Matt Kalil and the Vikings offensive line was scrutinized — including in this space — after the Week 3 loss to the Saints. But that group rebounded with its best performance of 2014 against the Falcons. Not only did the Vikings get their ground game going for the first time this season, they did not allow a sack. Bridgewater was pressured on just eight of his 34 dropbacks and hit only once, according to Pro Football Focus. Kalil allowed just two hurries.

67 — defensive snaps for outside linebacker Gerald Hodges against the Falcons.

Veteran outside linebacker Chad Greenway sat out the 41-28 win with a broken rib and a busted left hand, giving Gerald Hodges an opportunity to make his first NFL start. Hodges ended up playing every single defensive snap for the Vikings and his 67 snaps were 27 more than he had played in his career before Sunday. So how did Hodges do? He made three tackles and recorded one QB hit. With it being a short week, look for Hodges to again have a large role against the Packers.


San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Montreal 7:30 PM
Arizona 8:00 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM



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