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.


Five Vikings stats that stand out for Week 13

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated November 25th at 11:39am 283850121

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

69 — number of Eddie Lacy’s rushing yards that came after contact on Sunday.

The bruising Packers running back did a lot of his damage against the Vikings after contact. Again. According to Pro Football Focus, 69 of Lacy’s 125 rushing yards Sunday came after contact. Lacy forced the Vikings to miss five tackles. Back in Week 5, 52 of Lacy’s 105 rushing yards came after contact. He forced three more missed tackles in that game. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Lacy has now rushed for 229 total yards after contact in his four career games against the Vikings.

four — Packers punts on Sunday, as many as their past three games combined.

The Packers were 6-for-11 on third down, averaged 5.8 yards per play and were 3-for-3 in the red zone. But there is a stat that proves the Vikings defense made it difficult at times for them, at least more difficult than previous opponents had. The Packers had punted just four times in their previous three games. The Vikings convinced them to bring out punter Tim Masthay four times, including on the first drive of the game. The Packers hadn’t punted in the first quarter since Week 6.

zero — sacks or quarterback hits allowed by Kalil in the loss to the Packers.

For the first time all season, Kalil didn’t allow his quarterback to hit the ground. The embattled left tackle allowed three hurries against the Packers, but no sacks or quarterback knockdowns. With Kalil stabilizing the left side, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sacked just twice. But, as has always seemed to be the case with Kalil this season, there was some bad. Kalil was flagged three times for 35 yards. He has now been penalized eight times this season, according to ESPN.

54 — yards allowed in coverage by Josh Robinson against Green Bay’s wide-outs.

Robinson got picked on by the Bears in Week 11, but he responded with a solid performance against the Packers and their talented receivers. The cornerback was targeted 10 times by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and allowed six of the throws to be completed, but they were usually underneath the coverage. Jordy Nelson had five catches for 44 yards against him and Davante Adams had one for 10. It should be noted that fellow cornerback Xavier Rhodes was even better.

five — consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass for Bridgewater.

It took four games for the rookie quarterback to throw his first NFL touchdown pass. But after he hit wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson for his first back in the Bills game, Bridgewater has made a habit of throwing the ball into the end zone for scores. Bridgewater has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in five straight games and the two he threw against the Packers were a career high. His TD-INT differential was 6-4 in those games, but he is still a negative in that stat on the season.

Vikings NFL Draft order: Week 13

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 25th at 11:02am 283843491

Every Tuesday, we’ll analyze the Vikings draft chances for the upcoming NFL Draft.

Apologizes for not updating the Vikings draft chances last Tuesday with the NFL announcing Adrian Peterson’s suspension, but we’re back! And it’s time for…wait, where did all the red pills go?

Two weeks, two losses. The reality that the Vikings, at 4-7, will be draft bound has swept throughout the Twin Cities. Most of you are here to see where they belong in the draft order, but to appease our entire audience and those still clinging to their blue pills, the Vikings have a 0.03 percent chance of making the playoffs.

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

Yes, Lloyd Christmas, in your fabricated reality, we are saying there’s a very, very, tiny chance.

But back in the real world, the Vikings sit in last place in the NFC North and have a top 10 pick at this moment. Here’s how the order looks with record, strength of schedule tiebreaker (if necessary) and upcoming opponent listed in parentheses:

  1. Jacksonville (1-10) (.574) (vs. NY Giants on Sunday)
  2. Oakland (1-10) (.612) (at St. Louis on Sunday)
  3. Tampa Bay (2-9) (.434) (vs. Cincinnati on Sunday)
  4. Tennessee (2-9) (.558) (at Houston on Sunday)
  5. NY Jets (2-9) (.591) (vs. Miami on Monday)
  6. Washington (3-8) (.463) (at Indianapolis on Sunday)
  7. NY Giants (3-8) (.603) (at Jacksonville on Sunday)
  8. Carolina (3-7-1) (at Minnesota on Sunday)
  9. Minnesota (4-7) (.496) (vs. Carolina on Sunday)
  10. New Orleans (4-7) (.527) (at Pittsburgh on Sunday)
  11. St. Louis (4-7) (.612) (vs. Oakland on Sunday)

If the season ended today, the Vikings would have the ninth overall pick, edging out the Saints and Rams with the same record due to a lower strength of schedule percentage. A loss against the Panthers, who sit with the eighth overall pick right now, would move the Vikings, at worst, one spot up in the draft order.

Strength of schedule will change weekly as teams progress through the final five games of the season. The remaining five opponents for the Vikings at this point are 23-32-1 (.427), so their strength of schedule could dip a little more by the end of the season.

It’s also noteworthy that the Falcons, who sit in first place in the terrible NFC South, would have the ninth overall pick at this point if they didn’t hold a playoff spot. They’re 4-7 with a .430 strength of schedule percentage, which is lower than the Vikings at this point.

Yes, Lloyd, the Vikings would have a shot at the playoffs if they played in the NFC South this year. But, they don’t.

We’re going to need a refill on red pills.

Meanwhile, here are a few “Big Boards” to tickle your draft fantasies for the time being.  ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Ducks QB Marcus Mariota as the top player on his list,  but’s Rob Rang currently has USC DE Leonard Williams as the top prospect in college football at the moment.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Loadholt done, Kalil apologizes, no moral victories and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated November 25th at 10:42am 283841981

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


— The Vikings lost RT Phil Loadholt for the season with a torn pec.

— Backup OT Mike Harris says he is ready to step in for Loadholt.

— LT Matt Kalil apologized to the media, but not that Vikings fan.

— Head coach Mike Zimmer says he does not count moral victories.

— Charles Johnson led all Vikings receivers in playing time Sunday.



— Panthers DB Josh Norman is not a fan of CB Captain Munnerlyn.

— The Panthers are hoping for another rebirth against the Vikings.

— The Panthers need to keep feeding rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin.


Vikings players have the day off. Several of them, including C John Sullivan and DT Tom Johnson, will spend it at an early Thanksgiving meal at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.


Sacks and pressures were the big issue for Kalil until recently. Now penalties are a problem for him, too. Kalil was flagged three times Sunday against the Packers for 35 yards. He has now been penalized eight times this season, according to ESPN. That’s the seventh-highest total in the NFL.

Zimmer confirms Phil Loadholt's done for season

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 24th at 8:27pm 283746361

A few tidbits from Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s press conference on Monday:

“I think Phil is a great person,” Zimmer said. “He’s very conscientious, works hard, he’s got a great heart. So that’s just part of football. Obviously we’ll miss him. But we’re not going to let it hold us back from what we’re trying to get done.”

The Vikings are exploring their options, but Zimmer said Harris will probably fill in at right tackle against the Panthers.

  • Zimmer also addressed left tackle Matt Kalil’s performance and incident with a fan after the 24-21 loss against the Packers on Sunday. Kalil was flagged three times for 35 yards, then knocked the hat off a heckling fan after the game.

“He was wrong in what he did,” Zimmer said. “We appreciate 99.9 percent of the fans, they’re great for us and he should have conducted himself in better manner. It’s a good lesson for all of us. I know that in the past there have been times when I’ve been upset with people, too, but they pay money to go watch us play and watch us perform so they have a right to express their opinion. We just have to keep our composure and not let things get out of hand, I think.”

  • Running back Matt Asiata is still going through the concussion protocol, per Zimmer. He was inactive against the Packers, allowing Joe Banyard to serve as the backup running back. Banyard had five carries for 26 yards and three catches for 19 yards.

“I thought [Banyard] did some good things,” Zimmer said. “His yards after contact was good, had some good runs; had a good run on that third down. Caught the ball a couple times, the ball wasn’t exactly in the right place and made some catches. He continued to help keep drives alive.”

  • Zimmer gave cornerback Xavier Rhodes high praise after an impressive performance against the Packers. He finished with two passes defended but blanketed the Packers receivers, to the point of frustration, throughout the game.

“I’m pleased with his progress and where he’s going,” Zimmer said. “He studies really hard. He’s still a young, young guy in the development of where I think his football career can go. But it’s nice to have a guy that you can say, ‘Hey, you’ve got this guy and let’s go.’”

Mike Harris ready to step in at right tackle

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 24th at 8:27pm 283735361

Vikings offensive tackle Mike Harris replaced Phil Loadholt at right tackle for the offense’s final nine snaps during the 24-21 loss to the Packers on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Now, he might be replacing Loadholt for the remaining five games. There’s a report out on Monday that Loadholt will be out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. He’ll be the second starting offensive lineman the Vikings will lose for the season, along with right guard Brandon Fusco, but it comes with an opportunity for Harris to play a significant role.

“The team is counting on me to perform, so I’m excited for the opportunity,” Harris said. “It’s a great privilege to start in the NFL and just got to take it how it is.”

Harris said Loadholt’s injury was unfortunate given it’s someone he looks up to in the locker room. It occurred with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter, prompting Harris to see some rare snaps on offense.

“It was pressure time,” Harris said. “We needed to score at that moment, and I hadn’t played really; was a little stiff, but thought I went in and did an OK job. But watching film right now and there’s definitely some things I need to work on so this week I’m going to take everyday, starting Wednesday, to prepare and get ready for a good opponent on Sunday.”

If the Vikings opt to replace Loadholt will Harris on Sunday against the Panthers, it will be his 13th career start through three seasons. Harris, 25, spent his first two seasons with the Chargers and was a rookie during offensive coordinator’s final season as the Chargers head coach in 2012.

“I can just build on my career,” said Harris on the possibility of starting. “It’s a great opportunity to start in the NFL at any position so it’s been a while since I’ve played but I’m just going to take it and go play hard. I know my team is counting on me to perform so that’s just what I’m going to take it as and just enjoy it for what it is. It’s unfortunate for Phil because he’s out, but I have to go in there and not miss a beat because he’s a great tackle.”


Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Golden State 6:30 PM
Detroit 7:00 PM
Sacramento 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8:00 PM
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Ottawa 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Colorado 8:00 PM
New Jersey 9:00 PM
Calgary 9:00 PM
Fresno State 52 FINAL
East Carolina 58
Morgan State 61 2nd Half 10:58
Elon 43
Purdue 45 2nd Half
Missouri 20
Hawaii 28 1st Half 7:22
Marist 12
Liberty 3:00 PM
North Florida
MD-Eastern Shore 3:30 PM
Western Carolina 3:30 PM
Georgia State
BYU 3:30 PM
Evansville 5:00 PM
Green Bay
Alabama 6:00 PM
Arizona State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
SE Missouri St 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
NC Central 6:00 PM
Fair-Dickinson 6:00 PM
Citadel 6:00 PM
Florida State
Houston 6:00 PM
William Peace 6:00 PM
High Point
Texas-Arlington 6:00 PM
St Francis-NY 6:00 PM
La Salle
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Chicago State 6:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff 6:00 PM
Hartford 6:00 PM
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Jackson State 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Long Island 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Hofstra 6:00 PM
South Florida
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Loyola-Maryland 6:00 PM
Penn 6:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Northern Iowa 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Western Ill 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Ohio Valley 6:00 PM
Toccoa Falls 6:00 PM
Mount Ida 6:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Kansas State 6:30 PM
Binghamton 6:30 PM
Central Arkansas 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Howard 6:30 PM
VA Commonwealth 6:30 PM
Akron 6:30 PM
Penn State
Arkansas 6:30 PM
Jacksonville St 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
Eastern Ill 7:00 PM
St Xavier 7:00 PM
Northern Ariz 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
NC A&T 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
Columbia International 7:00 PM
SC State
Troy 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
St Francis-PA 7:00 PM
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Southern U 7:00 PM
Norfolk State 7:00 PM
Jarvis Christian 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
MN-Crookston 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
Lamar 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
San Francisco 7:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Air Force 8:00 PM
Boise State 8:00 PM
Louisiana 8:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Maryland 8:30 PM
Iowa State
Northwestern 8:30 PM
Villanova 9:00 PM
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Bristol University 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Cal State Fullerton 10:00 PM
Delaware 10:00 PM
Ohio U 6:00 PM
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Belmont 55 FINAL
Kent State 58
Robert Morris 75 FINAL
Coppin State 58
Western Ill 71
Manhattan 48 FINAL
La Salle 61
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
Arizona 61
Santa Clara 2:30 PM
Tulsa 2:30 PM
Texas Southern
SE Missouri St 3:00 PM
Ole Miss
Air Force 4:00 PM
Towson 4:00 PM
St Bonaventure 4:30 PM
Penn State
Texas-El Paso 5:00 PM
Kansas State
Cheyney 5:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Johnson C. Smith 5:00 PM
Winthrop 5:00 PM
NC Central
USC Upstate 5:00 PM
SC State
Quinnipiac 5:00 PM
(2) Notre Dame
Buffalo 5:30 PM
(8) Duke
Washington St 6:00 PM
Bryant 6:00 PM
Vermont 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
St Francis-NY 6:00 PM
(21) Rutgers 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 6:00 PM
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville 6:00 PM
Duquesne 6:00 PM
Fordham 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Liberty 6:00 PM
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Grambling 6:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Western Ky 6:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Arizona State 6:00 PM
Charleston Southern 6:00 PM
Georgia Southern 6:00 PM
(22) Georgia
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Hillsdale 6:00 PM
Eastern Michigan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Gardner-Webb 6:00 PM
Appalachian St
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Lehigh 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
George Mason 6:00 PM
High Point 6:00 PM
Old Dominion 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
SW Assemblies 6:30 PM
Houston Baptist
LSU-Alexandria 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Wofford 6:30 PM
Jacksonville St
ULM 7:00 PM
(25) Miss State
Morgan State 7:00 PM
(20) Oklahoma St
Lyon 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Lamar 7:00 PM
Texas State
Mobile 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
St Edwards 7:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 7:00 PM
Northern Iowa 7:00 PM
(17) Iowa
Southern U 7:00 PM
Harvard 7:00 PM
Holy Cross
Colorado 8:00 PM
Portland State 8:00 PM
Montana State 8:00 PM
San Diego
Idaho 8:00 PM
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
Boise State
Nevada 9:30 PM
San Francisco
Yale 10:59 PM


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