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.


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Reports: Adrian Peterson reinstatement hearing Monday

Posted by: Matt Vensel and Master Tesfatsion Updated November 11th at 12:28pm 282301921

The NFL Players Association’s grievance with the league to get Adrian Peterson reinstated to the Vikings’ roster has resulted in a hearing set for Monday, according to reports.

Pro Football Talk, citing sources, and Jay Glazer of Fox Sports both are reporting the hearing will be Monday.

Arbitrator Shyam Das will conduct the hearing, Pro Football Talk reported. The arbitrator then has five days to issue a decision.

The Vikings play at Chicago on Sunday before a three-game homestand that begins Nov. 23 against Green Bay.

Peterson remains on the commissioner’s exempt list following the settlement of his court case last week in Texas. Peterson reached a plea deal, pleading “no contest” to an injury-to-a-child misdemeanor.

The NFLPA, on Monday, filed an expedited, non-injury grievance to seek reinstatement of the Vikings running back, who missed eight games after he was charged on Sept. 12.

The NFLPA said in the statement the move was made “based on the explicit language in a signed agreement dated September 18, 2014. We asked the NFL to honor the terms of that agreement last week and as of now, they have failed to respond or comply.”

Peterson, who pleaded no contest on Nov. 4 to a misdemeanor charge of injuring his 4-year-old son with a switch, can’t return to the Vikings until the NFL reviews the case. The Vikings have deferred to the league in the matter, noting in a statement Monday that “at this time his potential reinstatement is under NFL guidelines.”

Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, an expedited grievance must be heard within seven days, and a ruling must be issued within five days following the hearing.

The NFL responded Monday night with a statement of its own.

“We have received the NFLPA’s grievance on behalf of Adrian Peterson,’’ the NFL statement read. “We have honored our commitment to Mr. Peterson and the NFLPA not to process or impose any discipline until the criminal charges pending in Texas were resolved.

“When Mr. Peterson decided not to contest criminal charges, we promptly advised both him and the NFLPA that we were prepared to consider what, if any, discipline should now be imposed under the Personal Conduct Policy. We asked Mr. Peterson and his representatives, including the NFLPA, for relevant information. We have not received any of the requested information, but remain prepared to schedule a hearing and make a determination as quickly as possible based on as much information as available.’’

Should Peterson be removed from the exempt list by Das, it is likely the NFL investigation would continue, and also likely Peterson would be allowed to play during the investigation.

The Vikings initially deactivated Peterson against the Patriots during Week 2 just before he flew to Houston and was booked in Montgomery County. They reinstated Peterson the following week, only to place him on the exempt list after public backlash.

“When those decisions are made [by the NFL], we can make decisions,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said at Monday’s access. “Until then, really our hands are tied. There’s nothing we can do about it other than what I’ve said all along. We love the kid. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do. And we support him. We want him to get through this for him, for him. Then we’ll worry about all the other things we have to deal with at the time.”

Vikings playoff, and draft, picture: Week 11

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 11th at 12:20pm 282299901

Every Tuesday, we’ll analyze the Vikings’ playoff odds – and draft chances – through the second half of the season.

At 4-5, the Vikings are in playoff contention. And they’re a few losses away from jockeying for a top 10 draft pick.

So, we’ll look at both scenarios for the time being as the playoff race takes shape over the next few weeks. This will serve as a guide to help you wisely choose between the red pill and the blue pill during the second half of the Vikings season, so here goes nothing:

Playoffs?!

Yes, playoffs. Possibly. The Vikings currently have the ninth best record in the NFC and sit two games out of the final Wild Card spot. Here are the standings through 10 weeks (Week 11 opponent in parentheses):

  1. Arizona (8-1; leads NFC West) (vs. Detroit on Sunday)
  2. Detroit (7-2; leads NFC North) (at Arizona on Sunday)
  3. Philadelphia (7-2; leads NFC East but loses tiebreaker to Lions based on conference win percentage) (at Green Bay on Sunday)
  4. New Orleans (4-5; leads the [pathetic] NFC South) (vs. Cincinnati on Sunday)
  5. Dallas (7-3; top Wild Card seed) (BYE WEEK)
  6. Seattle (6-3; second Wild Card seed) (at Kansas City on Sunday)
  7. Green Bay (6-3) (vs. Philadelphia on Sunday)
  8. San Francisco (5-4) (at New York Giants on Sunday)
  9. Minnesota (4-5) (at Chicago on Sunday)

The Vikings currently have a six percent chance of snagging the final Wild Card spot, according to PlayoffStatus.com. There’s some good teams ahead of the Vikings, except for the Saints (get used to the weekly NFC South jabs), but they could gain some ground this week. Division games are always tough, especially on the road, but if the Vikings can somehow escape Solider Field with a win, they’d be 5-5 with three straight home games on tap (Packers, Panthers and Jets).

The schedule bodes well where the Vikings will make it interesting during the final seven games if they can beat the Bears. We could be looking at a 7-6 team with three games left in the season and the possibility of receiving running back Adrian Peterson back down the stretch. They should get tight end Kyle Rudolph back this week as well, which should help rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater substantially.

NFL Draft Order

And there’s an 89 percent chance the Vikings don’t make the playoffs, per PlayoffStatus.com. At this point, the Vikings have a top 15 pick in next year’s draft. Here’s how the order looks (strength of schedule percentage tiebreaker in parentheses):

  1. Oakland (0-9)
  2. Jacksonville (1-9)
  3. Tampa Bay (1-8)
  4. New York Jets (2-8)
  5. Tennessee (2-7)
  6. Atlanta (3-6) (.421)
  7. Washington (3-6) (.506)
  8. Chicago (3-6) (.512)
  9. Carolina (3-6) (.536)
  10. St. Louis (3-6) (.598)
  11. New York Giants (3-6) (.622)
  12. Houston (4-5) (.470)
  13. Minnesota (4-5) (.481)

They’d hold the 13th overall pick at this point. If the Saints, who also are 4-5, weren’t in first place of the NFC South, they’d hold the 14th overall pick. They’re not listed, however, because non-playoff teams are seeded before playoff teams in the draft order.

Just like the playoff picture, there will be more clarity from the No. 6 through the No. 13 pick over the next few weeks. A loss against the Bears on Sunday, and the draft order might supersede any playoff talk in Minnesota.

Five Vikings stats that stand out for Week 11

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated November 11th at 9:43am 282276581

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

52.2 — red-zone touchdown percentage for the Vikings offense in 2014.

The Vikings were a perfect three-for-three in the red zone in the win over the Redskins, with running back Matt Asiata barreling into the end zone for touchdowns on each of their trips inside the 20. It was an unfamiliar but welcome sight for the Vikings, who have struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone without running back Adrian Peterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings now rank 24th in the NFL with a red-zone touchdown percentage of 52.2. We don’t know if Peterson will be back anytime soon, but getting Rudolph back will certainly help.

zero — runs of 15 yards or more for running back Matt Asiata this season.

Speaking of Asiata, he has proved to be an effective runner near the goal line, but he isn’t much of a threat to break free for a long run whenever the Vikings are outside the red zone. According to Pro Football Focus, 48 running backs have carried the ball at least 60 times this season, and he is the only one who hasn’t had a single carry that gained 15 or more yards. His longest run this season was 12 yards. His seven-yard touchdown run against the Redskins was amazingly the longest touchdown run of his career –and he has scored nine rushing touchdowns to date.

four — missed tackles in 60 attempts this season for safety Harrison Smith.

One of the many reasons why Smith should get strong consideration for the Pro Bowl is that he rarely misses tackles. Smith has whiffed just four times this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Their charting says that he has missed one out of every 15 tackle attempts. That ranks seventh among all qualifying NFL safeties. The man just ahead of him? Reggie Nelson, who played a similar role for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when Zimmer coached the Bengals defense.

106 — the number of points allowed by the Bears in their past two games.

The Bears were outscored, 106-37, in their past two games, allowing 51 points to the Patriots three weeks ago then, after their bye, another 55 against the Packers. When was the last time a team allowed 50-plus points in consecutive games? It was the Rochester Jeffersons in 1923. They folded after four games. The Bears may have already folded mentally and emotionally, but they will still show up Sunday. That’s good news for a Vikings team that ranks 26th in scoring.

15 — turnovers committed by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in nine games.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble Sunday night, has been a turnover machine this season. With 10 interceptions in nine games, he trails only Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, who has 14. And Cutler has fumbled 10 times, losing five of them. But Cutler has played some of his best ball against the Vikings. He is 7-2 against them all time with 20 touchdown passes. Still, he has 11 interceptions in those nine career games.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: NFLPA files Peterson grievance, bye-week hangovers and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated November 11th at 7:11am 282259791

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

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— The NFLPA filed a grievance to try to get RB Adrian Peterson reinstated.

— Head coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings love and support Peterson.

— TE Kyle Rudolph practiced yesterday and could return this weekend.

— Zimmer and the Vikings are trying to avoid another bye-week hangover.

— Former Vikings safety Orlando Thomas lost his battle with ALS on Sunday.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

— Bears coach Marc Trestman is oblivious to reality after Sunday’s loss.

— Mike Ditka doesn’t think that Trestman is losing the Bears locker room.

— Trestman says he is sticking with Jay Cutler as his starting quarterback.

— Trestman also said he isn’t making any changes to his coaching staff.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

Vikings players have the day off, but players such as C John Sullivan, TE MarQueis Gray, P Jeff Locke and CB Marcus Sherels will be visiting veterans at the VA Medical Center this afternoon.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

The Vikings reportedly had some interest in acquiring RB Darren Sproles, who scored a rushing touchdown and got into the end zone again on a punt return for the Eagles last night. Ultimately, the Vikings decided to go young, using a draft pick on RB Jerick McKinnon. That has obviously worked out well for them. But it sure would have been fun to watch Sproles in purple this season.

NFLPA files expedited grievance to activate Adrian Peterson

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 10th at 7:38pm 282207021

The NFL Players Association announced on Monday it has filed an expedited, non-injury grievance to remove Vikings running back Adrian Peterson from the Commissioner’s Exempt List.

It requested on Friday in a letter to the NFL that Peterson would be immediately reinstated after he pleaded no contest on Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son.

Here’s the NFLPA’s statement on the subject:

“The NFLPA has filed an expedited, non-injury grievance to remove Adrian Peterson from the Commissioner’s Exempt list based on the explicit language in a signed agreement dated September 18, 2014. We asked the NFL to honor the terms of that agreement last week and as of now, they have failed to respond or comply. It is our obligation to protect all players’ rights, and we will pursue any and all breaches of any contract between a player and his team on the NFL.”

The move by the NFLPA is an attempt to activate Peterson this week against the Bears. The Vikings have defaulted to the NFL in terms of reinstating Peterson, who was deactivated against the Patriots during Week 2 after a warrant was issued in Montgomery County. The team then reinstated Peterson, only to place him on the exempt list after public backlash.

“In regards to Adrian Peterson’s status with the Minnesota Vikings, at this time his potential reinstatement is under NFL guidelines,” the Vikings said in statement. “As an organization, we respect and understand the league’s process. In the interim, our focus is on the team and preparing for this weekend’s game against the Bears.

The NFL also released a statement regarding the grievance from the NFLPA.

“We have received the NFLPA’s grievance on behalf of Adrian Peterson.  We have honored our commitment to Mr. Peterson and the NFLPA not to process or impose any discipline until the criminal charges pending in Texas were resolved.  When Mr. Peterson decided not to contest criminal charges, we promptly advised both him and the NFLPA that we were prepared to consider what, if any, discipline should now be imposed under the Personal Conduct Policy.  We asked Mr. Peterson and his representatives, including the NFLPA, for relevant information. We have not received any of the requested information, but remain prepared to schedule a hearing and make a determination as quickly as possible based on as much information as available.”

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