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 mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


270204211

Greenway active versus Saints despite broken hand

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 21st at 12:03pm 275929741

Vikings outside linebacker Chad Greenway is active for today’s game against the New Orleans Saints despite a broken left hand and a rib injury that prevented him from practicing Wednesday and Thursday. That means Greenway will keep his consecutive games played streak alive.

Wide receiver Charles Johnson, who was signed to the 53-man roster yesterday, will not suit up.

Also inactive are quarterback Christian Ponder, cornerback Shaun Prater, outside linebacker Brandon Watts, guard David Yankey, wide receiver Rodney Smith and defensive end Scott Crichton.

Running back Mark Ingram and linebacker David Hawthorne are among the notable inactives for the Saints. Also inactive are safety Marcus Ball, fullback Erik Lorig, cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, wide receiver Nick Toon and defensive tackle John Jenkins.

Craig: Week 3 NFL Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated September 21st at 8:42am 275925821

What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

CRAIG’S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Broncos (2-0)
Why:
Like we said last week, Seattle was so clearly the best team in the league, it was bound to lose at San Diego. That’s how this league rolls. And that’s what happened. We’d take any one of our top seven teams as the best team in the league, at least for this week. Right now, it’s Denver, but that could and probably will change after the Broncos’ trip to Seattle today.

THE REST

2. Eagles (2-0); 3. Cardinals (2-0); 4. Chargers (1-1); 5. Seahawks (1-1); 6. Bengals (2-0); 7. Falcons (2-1); 8. Packers (1-1); 9. Bills (2-0); 10. Dolphins (1-1); 11. Patriots (1-1); 12. Panthers (2-0); 13. Bears (1-1); 14. 49ers (1-1); 15. Texans (2-0); 16. Jets (1-1); 17. Ravens (1-1); 18. Cowboys (1-1); 19. Titans (1-1); 20. Steelers (1-1); 21. Browns (1-1); 22. Saints (0-2).

THE VIKINGS
23. Vikings 1-1 (Last week: 15):
Last week’s 30-7 loss didn’t prove that the Vikings can’t win without Adrian Peterson. But it did prove that they can’t win without him while they’re turning the ball over four times and giving up blocked field goals that are returned for touchdowns. The defense played fairly well, but didn’t make any plays on short fields, which added to the blowout.

THE REST OF THE REST
24. Lions (1-1); 25. Redskins (1-1); 26. Colts (0-2); 27. Rams (1-1); 28. Jaguars (0-2); 29. Chiefs (0-2); 30. Raiders (0-2); 31. Giants (0-2).

WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Buccaneers (0-3):
Well, we had the Rams down as the worst team in the league a week ago. But the Bucs made one heck of a case to change that by A, losing at home to the Rams in Austin Davis’ NFL starting debut; and B, Getting humiliated 56-14 at Atlanta on Thursday.

THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE HOPEFUL

1, The Saints’ running game will be without Mark Ingram. A week ago, the Vikings couldn’t shake the Patriots out of a game plan designed to run the ball and throw quick passes from short drops on manageable downs and distances.

2, The return of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer should guarantee that there won’t be a special teams snap that comes with only nine Vikings players.

3, Quarterback Matt Cassel is an up-and-down quarterback. He was as down as down can be a week ago. He should be more likely to protect the ball better this week.

THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE NERVOUS

1, A 2.8-yard average per carry without Peterson a week ago wasn’t a good sign for the future.

2, The game is in New Orleans, it’s the home opener and, oh yeah, the Saints are winless and in desperate need of a victory.

3, Last week’s inability to stop the run made it so much more difficult for coach Mike Zimmer’s creative defense to be effective with pressure and takeaways on third downs.

THE PICKS

VIKINGS
Vikings plus-10 at Saints. The pick: Saints 28, Vikings 21.

Every sign there is points to a lopsided Saints victory. After initially picking 35-17, we’ll dial it back to a close contest in which the Saints fail to cover. In the NFL, it’s always dangerous to pick a team when EVERY sign points to them having a fairly easy day.

Last week: Patriots minus-3 at Vikings. The pick: Patriots 21, Vikings 17. The final: Patriots 30, Vikings 7. Record: 1-1.

UPSET SPECIAL

Ravens minus-1 ½ at Browns. The pick: Browns 24, Ravens 21

Why: If the Browns were able to pressure Drew Brees in a big upset at home last week, they should be able to put some heat on Joe Flacco in what wouldn’t be nearly as big of an upset at home today. Last week: Jaguars plus-6 at Redskins: The pick: Jaguars 24, Redskins 23. The final: Redskins 41, Jaguars 10. Record: 0-2.

THE REST
Chargers plus-2 at Bills: Chargers by 3

Cowboys minus-1 at Rams: Cowboys by 7

Redskins plus-6 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 3

Texans minus-2 ½ at Giants: Giants by 3

Titans plus-7 at Bengals: Bengals by 3

Packers plus-2 ½ at Lions: Lions by 3

Colts minus-7 at Jaguars: Colts by 3

Raiders plus-14 at Patriots: Patriots by 7

Steelers plus-3 ½ at Panthers: Steelers by 3

49ers minus-3 at Cardinals: Cardinals by 7

Broncos plus-5 at Seahawks: Seahawks by 7

Chiefs plus-4 at Dolphins: Dolphins by 7

Bears plus-2 ½ at Jets: Jets by 3

Record: Last week/overall: 6-9/12-18. Versus spread: Last week/overall: 5-10/9-21.

Vikings sign WR Johnson to their 53-man roster

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 20th at 3:11pm 275885521

The Vikings have filled the vacant spot on the 53-man roster created when running back Adrian Peterson was placed on the exempt list. They did so by signing wide receiver Charles Johnson — not to be confused with starting left guard Charlie Johnson — from the Browns’ practice squad.

The team had a need for a wide receiver after letting suspended wide-out Jerome Simpson go.

Johnson, who is in his second year in the league, played his college ball at Grand Valley State. He was drafted by the Packers in the seventh round in 2013 and was on Green Bay’s practice squad last season when Cleveland signed him to its active roster. He did not play in a NFL game, though.

He spent all of training camp and the 2014 preseason with the Browns, who, as you probably remember, employed Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner in the same capacity last season.

The new guy will wear No. 12.

Vikings' Greenway optimistic he'll play Sunday

Posted by: Christopher Miller Updated September 19th at 7:26pm 275800431

Linebacker Chad Greenway, who has a broken left hand, will be a game-time decision when the Vikings play at New Orleans on Sunday.

Greenway practiced on Friday at Winter Park, and briefly huddled with coach Mike Zimmer and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman afterward. Greenway, who also has been on the injury report because of a rib injury, seemed optimistic he might be ready for the game.

Defensive tackle Sharif Floyd (shoulder) and right offensive tackle Phil Loadholt (ankle) should be ready to start in the Saints game, Zimmer said.

Zimmer briefly addressed the team dropping receiver Jerome Simpson, who was scheduled to return from a three-game suspension Monday. Simpson was cut after it discovered Thursday that he had been cited for possession of marijuana and an open bottle during a July traffic stop. His current suspension was his second for violation of the NFL’s substances of abuse policy.

“Every situation is different,” Zimmer said, adding the team “will do what’s in their best interest.”

Simpson’s locker was empty.

With running back Adrian Peterson on the commissioner’s exempt list following his indictment in Texas on child abuse charges, the Vikings do have an open roster spot. Zimmer said it would eventually be filled, but he wasn’t certain when that would happen.

He was eager to turn the team’s focus to Sunday’s game against the Saints (0-2), as was Greenway, who was asked about distractions.

“We need to understand our jobs, but also understand it’s in a hostile environment against a team that is desperate,” Greenway said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on, and we have to prep our guys, who haven’t been in this situation, to help focus on their jobs.”

Behind Enemy Lines: talking Brees, Saints 0-2 start with columnist Larry Holder

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 19th at 10:14am 275742031

For Week 3 of “Behind Enemy Lines,” we talked to Larry Holder, the Saints columnist for The Times-Picayune. Here are five questions we asked Holder leading up to the Vikings-Saints matchup at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

1. What has been the biggest issue on defense?

LH: Where do you start? The two strengths on the Saints defense last season was the pass rush and the secondary play. Both have been a letdown so far this season. The Saints haven’t consistently been able to pressure either Matt Ryan or Brian Hoyer. The secondary hasn’t done the defense any favors, though, by having far too many miscommunications.

2. How has Drew Brees looked through two games?

LH: Brees hasn’t been as sharp as the Saints have been accustomed to in recent years. But Brees started slow last season and he compiled one of his best seasons in the NFL. Brees has thrown a costly interception in each game. One was his fault against Atlanta in the end zone. The other came as he took a shot in Cleveland, but the result also cost the Saints as it went back for a touchdown.

3. In what ways does the defensive game plan change without running back Adrian Peterson?

LH: I would assume the Saints would focus less on stopping the run and zero in on shoring up the pass defense. The Saints have expressed their respect for Cordarrelle Patterson and will take their chances in not stacking the box.

4. What is the sense of urgency with this team starting 0-2 and coming back to the Superdome?

LH: There’s no major panic with this team. There’s definitely a sense of urgency, though. The Saints know they had their chances of winning both games and it didn’t happen. They know the season isn’t in trouble at 0-2. As for 0-3, that’s a different story.

5. What needs to happen for the Saints to win the game?

LH: The Saints need to play like they typically play at home. Both side of the football come with extra juice in the Superdome as the Saints went undefeated there in 2013. The Saints need to cut down on the mistakes on defense and increase the pressure on the quarterback. The Saints have also run the football with plenty of success and should continue to use their ground game even with Mark Ingram likely out Sunday with a broken hand.

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - D. Hutchison 12:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Tanaka
Washington - S. Strasburg 12:10 PM
Miami - N. Eovaldi
NY Mets - J. deGrom 12:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Boston - J. Kelly 12:35 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 12:35 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay - N. Karns
Cleveland - C. Kluber 1:10 PM
Minnesota - A. Swarzak
Detroit - R. Porcello 1:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Seattle - H. Iwakuma 1:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Los Angeles - J. Wright 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Texas - N. Tepesch 2:35 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong 3:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Arizona - W. Miley 3:10 PM
Colorado - C. Bergman
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 12:30 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 4:00 PM
Washington
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Columbus
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Calgary
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 2:00 PM
Toronto FC
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do on Sunday in New Orleans?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT