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 2:03pm 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 98 4th Qtr 5:53
Boston 97
Golden State 6:00 PM
Dallas 6:30 PM
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
New Orleans 6:30 PM
LA Clippers 7:00 PM
New York 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Memphis 9:00 PM
Minnesota 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 2 3rd Prd
Philadelphia 0
Chicago 3:00 PM
NY Islanders 4:00 PM
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Montreal 6:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
Vancouver 6:00 PM
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Edmonton 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Minnesota 7:30 PM
Tennessee 67 FINAL
Kansas 82
Eastern Ill 40 FINAL
NC Central 65
New Orleans 65 FINAL
Texas A&M 87
Radford 53 2nd Half 7:48
NC A&T 51
Butler 31 2nd Half
Georgetown 27
Prairie View 30 1st Half 3:45
Brown 29
Southern U 22 1st Half 5:03
Northern Ariz 26
Santa Clara 19 1st Half 8:04
Rhode Island 22
IUPU-Ft Wayne 2:00 PM
FIU 2:30 PM
Wright State
Texas-El Paso 2:30 PM
Penn State 3:00 PM
James Madison 3:00 PM
Ohio State
Yale 3:00 PM
Lamar 3:00 PM
Texas Southern
Miss Valley St 3:00 PM
Missouri State 3:00 PM
Minnesota 3:30 PM
Oklahoma 3:30 PM
Stephen F Austin 4:00 PM
Austin Peay
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
St Francis-NY
USC Upstate 5:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Middle Tennessee 5:00 PM
Char Southern 5:00 PM
Florida State
Princeton 5:00 PM
San Diego
Drake 5:00 PM
Rice 5:15 PM
Washington St
Rider 5:30 PM
Georgia Tech
High Point 6:00 PM
Emerson 6:00 PM
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Jacksonville St
Monmouth 6:00 PM
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Boise State 6:00 PM
NC State
Vanderbilt 6:00 PM
Gonzaga 6:00 PM
St Johns
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Bradley 6:00 PM
Alabama State 6:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Tennessee St 6:30 PM
Saint Peters
North Carolina 7:00 PM
Memphis 7:00 PM
Indiana State
Hofstra 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Samford 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Cleveland State 7:00 PM
UT Martin 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana 7:00 PM
Creighton 7:30 PM
Ole Miss
Murray State 7:30 PM
North Texas 8:00 PM
UNC Greensboro 8:00 PM
Michigan State 8:00 PM
Western Mich 8:00 PM
San Jose St
Stetson 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Texas-Arlington 8:05 PM
Montana State
Pacific 8:30 PM
Colorado State
Miss State 8:30 PM
Saint Louis
La Salle 8:30 PM
North Dakota 9:00 PM
UCLA 9:30 PM
Baylor 9:30 PM
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 28 4th Qtr 9:02
Iowa 24
Western Ky 52 4th Qtr 12:55
(19) Marshall 49
UCF 16 4th Qtr 8:23
So Florida 0
Houston 28 4th Qtr 13:35
Akron 7 3rd Qtr 13:13
Kent State 13
Ball State 24 3rd Qtr 15:00
Bowling Green 21
Buffalo 20 3rd Qtr 9:50
Massachusetts 7
Toledo 42 3rd Qtr
Eastern Mich 9
Arkansas 7 1st Qtr 2:13
(17) Missouri 0
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 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
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
TBA 12/5/14 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
TBA 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 27 2nd Half
Tulane 30
La Salle 37 2nd Half 16:53
Long Island 40
Binghamton 29 2nd Half 17:51
St Johns 37
UNC-Asheville 29 2nd Half
NC Central 20
North Florida 21 2nd Half
UNC-Wilmington 33
Akron 28 2nd Half 18:38
Belmont 32
Miss Valley St 16 2nd Half 20:00
Liberty 28 2nd Half
Penn State 35
Colgate 27 2nd Half 16:30
(21) Rutgers 38
Mercer 33 2nd Half 20:00
Saint Louis 38
Northeastern 24 1st Half 5:19
No Dakota State 25
(10) Maryland 25 1st Half
James Madison 13
Villanova 13 1st Half 6:41
Arizona State 10
Tulsa 2:00 PM
Boston College 2:00 PM
Wyoming 2:00 PM
Iowa State
Weber State 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Texas Tech 2:15 PM
Washington 2:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast 2:30 PM
Drake 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
UNC Greensboro 2:30 PM
(15) Nebraska 3:00 PM
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Austin Peay 3:00 PM
Southern Miss
(17) Iowa 3:00 PM
Cal-Irvine 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Samford 3:00 PM
Georgia State
Siena 3:30 PM
Abilene Christian 3:30 PM
George Mason
Towson 3:30 PM
Rhode Island
Howard 4:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Houston 4:00 PM
Idaho State
Texas Southern
East Carolina 4:45 PM
USC 5:00 PM
Sam Houston St
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Kent State 5:00 PM
Montana 5:00 PM
(9) Kentucky 5:00 PM
Arizona 5:00 PM
Northern Ky 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Stetson 5:00 PM
American Univ 5:30 PM
UAB 5:30 PM
Loyola Marymount
Oral Roberts 5:30 PM
Stony Brook 5:30 PM
(8) Duke
TCU 6:00 PM
Colorado State
(5) Stanford 6:00 PM
(11) North Carolina
Monmouth 6:00 PM
Portland 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 6:00 PM
Alcorn State 6:00 PM
Lafayette 6:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Florida 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
SE Missouri St 6:05 PM
Southern Ill
Florida A&M 7:00 PM
Northern Colorado 7:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Montana State 7:00 PM
(22) Syracuse 7:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Dartmouth 7:00 PM
Cal Poly
Utah State 7:00 PM
(13) Baylor
Toledo 7:00 PM
Christian Brothers 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
South Florida 7:15 PM
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
(3) Connecticut
Wake Forest 7:30 PM
San Jose St 7:30 PM
(14) California
Central Michigan 8:00 PM
Fresno State 8:00 PM
San Diego
Boston U 8:00 PM
New Mexico
Missouri State 8:30 PM
Ole Miss 8:30 PM
Prairie View 8:30 PM
Army 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Cincinnati 9:30 PM


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