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.


Vikings' Smith, Patterson probable for Panthers

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated November 28th at 1:59pm 284162971

The Vikings will be without the services of rookie running back Jerick McKinnon on Sunday, but they are optimistic about their chances of having a couple of other starters when they play the Panthers.

Safety Harrison Smith and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson have been listed as probable for Sunday. Smith is dealing with shoulder and ankle injuries and Patterson injured his knee last Sunday.

Running back Matt Asiata, who missed the Packers loss with a concussion, is also probable.

Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who returned to practice today for the first time since injuring his knee in practice last Wednesday, is questionable. Head coach Mike Zimmer is becoming more tight-lipped when it comes to injuries, but he did say earlier this week that he expects Floyd to play.

Tight end Chase Ford, who is dealing with foot and hamstring injuries, is questionable, too.

McKinnon is officially listed as doubtful, but he told us a little bit ago that he isn’t playing.

Jerick McKinnon says he's out vs. Panthers

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 28th at 3:49pm 284161121

Though listed as doubtful, Vikings rookie running back Jerick McKinnon said he will not play against the Panthers on Sunday due to a lingering low back injury.

McKinnon did not practice all week and has been listed on the injury report since Nov. 13. He’s played through the low back issues during the last two games.

“It’s going to be hard standing on the sidelines not being able to play in the game,” McKinnon said. “I know that Matt [Asiata], Joe [Banyard] and all the other guys are going to do the job, do what’s best for the team and lead us to victory.

“It’s been lingering a little bit, but it’s nothing I can’t play through. It’s just a matter of taking precaution and doing what’s right.”

That leaves the Vikings with Asiata, who returned to practice this week after missing the Packers game with a concussion, Banyard, who received his first career carry on Sunday, and Ben Tate, who the Vikings claimed off waivers from the Browns last week but did not play in his first game in purple.

Who will start in McKinnon’s absence is unknown at this point. Asiata has the most experience in offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s system this season, but Banyard had five carries for 26 yards and three receptions for 19 yards in a limited role against the Packers.

“I hope so, but we’ll see,” Banyard said on the possibility of receiving an expanded role. “Whatever the game plan is, or what it turns out to be, I’ll try to contribute in any way possible.”

Vikings' McKinnon reflects on his whirlwind rookie season

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated November 28th at 1:38pm 284155511

A little over a year ago, Jerick McKinnon scored the game-winning touchdown as Georgia Southern stunned Florida, the small school upsetting one of the big boys without completing a single pass.

If McKinnon wasn’t already on the radar of some NFL teams, he would be after rushing for 125 yards and that touchdown on nine carries against the Gators, including a 66-yard run.

But what exactly was McKinnon? He played slot receiver, cornerback and safety in high school before his coach moved him to quarterback. Georgia Southern recruited him as an athlete and made him the backup quarterback in their triple-option scheme as a freshman. Throughout his college career, he played pretty much every backfield position while moonlighting as a defensive back. A few NFL teams worked him out as a corner, thinking his athleticism could be best used there.

“It was really just wide open for me, coming from a small school that had an untraditional offense. And I played option quarterback. I think it was based all off projection so a lot of teams I guess had a question mark in their heads,” McKinnon said last week. “But Minnesota gave me the opportunity and that’s all I can ask for. I just tried to make the most out of it when I came here.”

While McKinnon’s status for Sunday’s game is in doubt after he missed another practice today, he has made a much bigger impact than anyone expected this season. He was originally slotted in as one of the backups to Adrian Peterson and the Vikings wanted him to learn about the pro running game by watching the Pro Bowler. It seemed the team planned to use him as more of a pass-catcher.

But then Peterson was banished, and everything changed. McKinnon was starting by Week 6 and thanks to several big runs, he has averaged 4.8 yards per carry while rushing for 538 yards.

When asking about life after Peterson, it seems McKinnon is at least part of the answer. It’s crazy how much has changed in a year for McKinnon, going from Georgia Southern to a starting NFL gig.

“I didn’t expect to be starting or having any, I guess, success like I’ve had,” McKinnon said. “But I always prepared myself for the unknown so that when that opportunity did come up I would be ready and not stunned and shocked or unprepared for the moment.”

It hasn’t been easy. The learning curve has been steep coming from a smaller school that ran an offense that doesn’t translate to the pro game. In Georgia Southern’s option attack, McKinnon often had to sprint laterally trying to get around the edge. Now, in the NFL, he must be patient when running between the tackles.

But the coaching staff has raved about his vision, the kind of thing that can’t be taught, and the rookie has surprised with his willingness and ability to run between the tackles.

“In a pro-style [offense], you have to be more patient opposed to being real quick,” McKinnon said. “That was something that I thought would be a big challenge. But it was actually more comfortable than I thought it would be. Going through the Senior Bowl and coming here, there were some times where I would be too fast. But I kept working on being patient. I talked to the other running backs on the team and they helped me learn and become more and more comfortable with it.”

And it shows. And the Vikings are benefiting from his surprisingly quick transition to the pros.

McKinnon not at practice; Floyd, Patterson return

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 28th at 12:08pm 284153371

Vikings rookie running back Jerick McKinnon was the only player absent at Friday’s practice.

McKinnon hasn’t participated all week dealing with a lingering low back injury. His status at this point for Sunday’s game against the Panthers doesn’t look too good.

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (knee), defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) and tight end Chase Ford (hamstring/foot) all returned to practice for the first time this week.

The Vikings practiced indoors with the doors closed coming off a walkthrough on Thanksgiving.

Behind Enemy Lines: Chatting about Newton and Munnerlyn with beat writer Jonathan Jones

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 28th at 10:32am 284149131

For the Vikings’ Week 13 matchup against the Panthers, we spoke to Jonathan Jones, who covers the Panthers for the Charlotte Observer, for this week’s edition of “Behind Enemy Lines.” Here are five questions we asked Jones about Sunday’s game at TCF Bank Stadium.

1. Has quarterback Cam Newton regressed, or has his supporting staff been the byproduct of the 22nd ranked offense this season?

JJ: Cam has obviously played hurt, so that hasn’t helped his progress any. The thought early in the season was that Cam was a better pocket passer because he couldn’t use his legs as much in the preseason due to his offseason ankle surgery. Cam has made some mistakes in recent weeks, but he’s also had a different offensive line in each of the past five games. Minnesota will make six. The line has failed him multiple times, and [general manager] Dave Gettleman tried to patch up the line with some pieces that have proven to be (less than) mediocre. The result is Newton on pace to be sacked more than ever in his career, the offense being ranked 22nd and the Panthers at 3-7-1.

2. How much has defensive end Greg Hardy’s absence impacted the Panthers defense?

JJ: It’s been huge. Think about it like this: How much has the absence of [Adrian] Peterson impacted the Vikings’ offense? Of course AP is a future Hall of Famer and Hardy is far from that, but the principle is the same. Gettleman’s philosophy is that you win up front. That’s why he spent $13.1 million to keep Hardy this season. Around Hardy, the line would generate the most sacks in the NFL again, the linebackers would be able to flow to the ball and the secondary’s inefficiencies would be masked. That was the thought, anyway. Without Hardy, teams can scheme against DE Charles Johnson and not really worry much about the other side of the line. The Panthers planned all offseason to have their Pro Bowl DE, and they got him for one game.

3. What does the Panthers secondary look like through 11 games without Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn?

JJ: Honestly it looks about the same as last year. To my earlier point, this secondary isn’t breaking any records. Their safeties aren’t that fast, and their best cornerback was benched earlier this season. Last year Captain brought a great deal of grit to the group, and safety Mike Mitchell brought an attitude with some hard hits. But it was really a secondary that looked a lot better than it really was because of the front seven. Make no mistake, Carolina wanted to keep Munnerlyn, but the Vikings out-bid them. But his absence isn’t the cause for the woes of the Panthers’ defense or secondary. That group looks about the same as it did last year.

4. Who has been the biggest surprise, and the biggest disappointment this year?

JJ: The biggest surprise has definitely been undrafted rookie guard Andrew Norwell. Folks probably haven’t heard of him, and the Panthers want to keep it that way. He came out of Ohio State undrafted and has started several games lately and played really well on a line that’s really taken its lumps this year. Trust me, Panthers fans can sympathize with Vikings fans when it comes to offensive line woes. Norwell has made Gettleman and his scouting staff look like geniuses.

As far as the biggest disappointment, let’s just say it’s the running game. They’ve been banged up with injuries all season but that excuse only goes so far. This team has yet to have 150 rushing yards in a single game. DeAngelo Williams has gone down at first contact and Jonathan Stewart hasn’t gotten a great deal of carries. Now, this could change with the return of fullback Mike Tolbert, who adds another dimension to Carolina’s backfield. But there’s no doubt this team’s rushing offense has been a letdown.

5. What will the Panthers need to do to win on Sunday and, as dumb as it sounds, remain in the hunt for the NFC South title while boasting an astonishing 3-7-1 record right now? 

JJ: Well, they could lose and still be in it. I don’t think they will though. Cam is due for a good game, and I think he’ll get it this week. I suppose it’s just one of those feelings you sometimes get. But specifically, on the field, they have to win up front in a game where the weather will make the ball hard as a rock in passing attempts. I also believe Tolbert’s addition will give a boost to the offense. This team hasn’t won a game since Oct. 5, and they know they need to start making hay if they want to get into the playoffs. I believe it happens in Minnesota.


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
Dallas 12/4/14 7:25 PM
Chicago 109 FINAL
Boston 102
Golden State 106 FINAL
Charlotte 101
Dallas 106 FINAL
Toronto 102
Milwaukee 104 FINAL
Detroit 88
New Orleans 91 FINAL
Atlanta 100
LA Clippers 102 FINAL
Houston 85
New York 78 FINAL
Oklahoma City 105
Orlando 83 FINAL
Indiana 98
Sacramento 104 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Phoenix 84 4th Qtr 6:04
Denver 109
Memphis 52 3rd Qtr
Portland 43
Minnesota 23 2nd Qtr 11:49
LA Lakers 30
NY Rangers 3 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Washington 5
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(OT)
Boston 2
Montreal 1 FINAL
Buffalo 2
Detroit 5 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 4
Carolina 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 2
Vancouver 5 FINAL
Columbus 0
Ottawa 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Edmonton 3 FINAL(OT)
St. Louis 4
Minnesota 3 3rd Prd 2:01
Dallas 4
Tennessee 67 FINAL
Kansas 82
Eastern Ill 40 FINAL
NC Central 65
New Orleans 65 FINAL
Texas A&M 87
Radford 65 FINAL
NC A&T 57
Butler 64 FINAL
Georgetown 58
Prairie View 71 FINAL
Brown 81
Southern U 63 FINAL
Northern Ariz 70
Santa Clara 44 FINAL
Rhode Island 66
IUPU-Ft Wayne 67 FINAL
Dartmouth 68
Wright State 59
Texas-El Paso 77 FINAL
Xavier 73
Penn State 88 FINAL
Bucknell 80
James Madison 56 FINAL
Ohio State 73
Yale 66 FINAL
Providence 72
Lamar 59 FINAL
Texas Southern 71
Miss Valley St 66 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 75
Missouri State 55 FINAL
Alaska-Anchorage 51
Minnesota 66 FINAL
Georgia 62
Oklahoma 56 FINAL
Wisconsin 69
Stephen F Austin 83 FINAL
Austin Peay 62
Norfolk State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 70
Middle Tennessee 51 FINAL
Cincinnati 69
Char Southern 47 FINAL
Florida State 58
Princeton 65 FINAL
San Diego 75
Drake 46 FINAL
Valparaiso 66
Rice 74 FINAL
Washington St 76
USC Upstate 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 64
Rider 54 FINAL
Georgia Tech 61
High Point 59 FINAL
Clemson 62
Emerson 50 FINAL
Hartford 83
Savannah State 71 FINAL
Jacksonville St 74
Monmouth 56 FINAL
Maryland 61
South Alabama 75 FINAL
Miami-Florida 87
Boise State 54 FINAL
NC State 60
Vanderbilt 65 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
St Johns 66
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Syracuse 72
Bradley 49 FINAL
TCU 57
Alabama State 91 FINAL
TX-Pan American 79
Delaware State 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 65
Tennessee St 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 66
North Carolina 75 FINAL
Florida 64
Memphis 72 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Hofstra 86 FINAL
Jackson State 56
Samford 64 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 77
Cleveland State 68 FINAL
Marshall 59
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Nebraska 75
SE Louisiana 61 FINAL
Tulane 71
Creighton 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 75
Murray State 61 FINAL
Portland 64
North Texas 63 2nd Half 2:38
Arkansas 81
UNC Greensboro 79 FINAL
Indiana 87
Michigan State 78 2nd Half 0:46
Marquette 68
Western Mich 79 FINAL
San Jose St 60
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Colorado 82
Texas-Arlington 81 FINAL
Montana State 104
Pacific 46 2nd Half 8:56
Colorado State 54
Miss State 56 2nd Half 10:29
Saint Louis 37
La Salle 39 2nd Half 7:55
Virginia 49
North Dakota 26 2nd Half
Utah 37
UCLA 30 1st Half 6:49
UAB 20
Baylor 13 1st Half 8:55
Illinois 14
Long Beach State 10:30 PM
Mercer 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 31 FINAL
Western Mich 21
Nebraska 37 FINAL
Iowa 34
Western Ky 67 FINAL
(19) Marshall 66
So Florida 0
Houston 35 FINAL
Akron 24 FINAL
Kent State 27
Ball State 41 FINAL
Bowling Green 24
Buffalo 41 FINAL
Massachusetts 21
Toledo 52 FINAL
Eastern Mich 16
Arkansas 14 FINAL
(17) Missouri 21
Navy 42 FINAL
South Alabama 40
(13) Arizona State 35 FINAL
(12) Arizona 42
Stanford 31 FINAL
(9) UCLA 10
(21) Colorado State 24 FINAL
Air Force 27
Virginia 13 4th Qtr 11:29
Virginia Tech 17
East Carolina 28 3rd Qtr 5:29
Tulsa 25
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
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Northern Ill 12/5/14 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
(12) Arizona 12/5/14 8:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Marshall 12/6/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State 12/6/14 2:00 AM
(5) Baylor
Iowa State 12/6/14 2:00 AM
(6) TCU
Oklahoma State 12/6/14 2:00 AM
(20) Oklahoma
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Michigan 76 FINAL
Washington St 64
Green Bay 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 50
Eastern Kentucky 71 FINAL
Western Carolina 62
Florida Atlantic 57
Fordham 74 FINAL
Incarnate Word 42
Furman 63 FINAL
Florida State 94
Illinois State 44 FINAL
Miami-Florida 95
Eastern Michigan 74 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 78
George Washington 74 FINAL
NC State 66
Ohio State 55 FINAL
Wichita State 70
Western Ky 69 FINAL
Tulane 64
La Salle 71 FINAL
Long Island 66
Binghamton 51 FINAL
St Johns 67
UNC-Asheville 52 FINAL
NC Central 55
North Florida 55 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 41
Akron 73 FINAL
Belmont 58
Miss Valley St 46 FINAL
Liberty 80 FINAL
Penn State 68
Colgate 44 FINAL
(21) Rutgers 60
Mercer 80 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Northeastern 72 FINAL
No Dakota State 79
(10) Maryland 80 FINAL
James Madison 64
Villanova 46 FINAL
Arizona State 51
Tulsa 87 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Boston College 90 FINAL
Brown 80
Wyoming 63 FINAL
Iowa State 84
Weber State 100 FINAL
New Mexico St 97
Texas Tech 53 FINAL
Purdue 69
Washington 81 FINAL
Hartford 70
Fla Gulf Coast 86 FINAL
Clemson 61
Drake 69 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 61
UNC Greensboro 64 FINAL
Navy 71
(15) Nebraska 71 FINAL
Northern Iowa 58 FINAL
Hofstra 61
Austin Peay 71 FINAL
Southern Miss 80
(17) Iowa 67 FINAL
Arkansas 77
Cal-Irvine 54 FINAL
Bowling Green 62
Samford 56 FINAL
Georgia State 61
Siena 78 FINAL
Denver 62
Abilene Christian 88 FINAL
George Mason 86
Towson 49 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Howard 55 FINAL
St Marys-CA 80
Houston 67 FINAL
Idaho State 73
Texas Southern 71
East Carolina 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 43
Sam Houston St 67
Minnesota 54 FINAL
Vanderbilt 71
Kent State 47 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 57
Montana 55 FINAL
Princeton 80
(9) Kentucky 92 FINAL
Oklahoma 88
Arizona 65 FINAL
FIU 58
Northern Ky 52 FINAL
Grand Canyon 45
Stetson 57 FINAL
Marist 50
American Univ 59 FINAL
Gonzaga 56
Loyola Marymount 66
Oral Roberts 38 FINAL
NC A&T 47
Stony Brook 42 FINAL
(8) Duke 72
Colorado State 76
(5) Stanford 54 FINAL
(11) North Carolina 70
Monmouth 82 FINAL
Wagner 59
Portland 59 FINAL
Nevada 84
Stephen F Austin 62 FINAL
UC-Riverside 90
Alcorn State 33 FINAL
Rice 61
Lafayette 61 FINAL
(12) Louisville 102
Florida 81 FINAL
Georgetown 73
Miami-Ohio 51 FINAL
Oakland 65
SE Missouri St 62 FINAL
Southern Ill 78
Florida A&M 46 FINAL
SMU 77
Northern Colorado 67 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 58
Montana State 66 FINAL
CS-Northridge 78
(22) Syracuse 63 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Dartmouth 74 FINAL
Cal Poly 61
Utah State 43 FINAL
(13) Baylor 99
Toledo 64 FINAL
Virginia 62
Christian Brothers 39 FINAL
Arkansas State 79
South Florida 67 FINAL
Illinois 61
Coll of Charleston 24 FINAL
(3) Connecticut 85
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Charlotte 58
San Jose St 87 FINAL
(14) California 110
Central Michigan 73 FINAL
Oregon 67
Fresno State 93 FINAL
San Diego 88
Boston U 49 FINAL
New Mexico 56
Missouri State 47 2nd Half 4:14
Colorado 76
Ole Miss 29 2nd Half 8:17
Utah 30
Prairie View 54 2nd Half 7:58
Hawaii 58
Army 35 2nd Half 19:30
UC Santa Barbara 21
Cincinnati 12 1st Half 8:32
Creighton 12


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