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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Vikings keep fullback Line on their practice squad

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 16th at 3:07pm 275333821

In between a barrage of media tweets about sponsors distancing themselves from the Vikings and the NFL as if they were on fire, the Vikings tweeted an announcement of a minor roster move.

The Vikings added fullback Zach Line to their practice squad today, a few days after they were forced to release him following the deactivation of troubled running back Adrian Peterson.

When Peterson was declared out of the game, the Vikings cut Line and promoted Joe Banyard from the practice squad so they had three tailbacks available for the home opener against the Patriots.

Banyard is still on the 53-man, so the Vikings gave the vacant spot on the practice squad to Line.

Line played three games for the Vikings last season. He made the team out of camp despite the presence of starting fullback Jerome Felton because head coach Mike Zimmer said good fullbacks are hard to find. But the 24-year-old did not play in Week 1, in part because of a minor ankle injury.

Five Vikings stats that stand out for Week 3

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 16th at 1:05pm 275292661

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

one — complete pass thrown beyond 10 yards by Matt Cassel this season.

Cassel didn’t complete a single pass beyond 10 yards in the 30-7 loss to the Patriots, according to ESPN Stats and Info — well, unless you count the three caught by the other team, but we wouldn’t advise you do that. Through two games, the Vikings QB is just 1-for-13 for 18 total yards on passes thrown at least 10 yards downfield. That continues a troubling trend from a season ago, when he completed just 46.4 percent of his throws beyond 10 yards, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

2.8 — yards per carry for the Vikings in Sunday’s loss without you-know-who.

With star running back Adrian Peterson deactivated, the Vikings struggled to run the ball against the Patriots. Matt Asiata got the start and rushed for just 36 yards on 13 carries. The Vikings as a team averaged 2.8 yards per carry and their longest run was a 13-yard scramble by Cassel. The biggest difference came after contact. The Vikings had just 26 yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus. Peterson had 34 by himself in Week 1 — and that was an off day for him.

eight — quarterback pressures allowed by Matt Kalil through the first two games.

Kalil has allowed two sacks and eight total pressures this season, according to Pro Football Focus, the most on the team. Those numbers aren’t exactly becoming for a former fourth overall pick and a player who is counted on to protect the quarterback’s blind side. Kalil was beaten twice by Patriots pass rushers — and that’s not including Kalil’s whiff on the blocked field goal — for sacks and allowed four other pressures. As a result, Kalil is PFF’s lowest-graded NFL offensive tackle.

32 — percentage of third-down opportunities converted by Vikings opponents.

It’s early, but the Vikings defense has been much better on third down in 2014. In 2013, the Vikings allowed opponents to convert 44 percent of their third-down opportunities, which ranked 30th in the NFL. This season, under new head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have been much improved. Sure, they have been aided by some early-down penalties, but their opponents have converted just nine of their 28 third-down opportunities. That 32 percent conversion rate ranks sixth in the NFL.

1.73 — yards allowed by Captain Munnerlyn per coverage snap in the slot in 2014.

The Vikings signed Munnerlyn, a free-agent cornerback, in part because they hoped he could limit the damage done by slot receivers. But so far this season, Munnerlyn has struggled in that regard. In 40 coverage snaps in the slot, Munnerlyn has been targeted six times, allowing each of them to be completed for a total of 69 yards. Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman’s touchdown Sunday came when he lined up across from Munnerlyn in the left slot and lost him on a corner route.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Peterson back with Vikings, potential for distraction and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 16th at 7:03am 275263801

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

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— The Vikings reinstated RB Adrian Peterson and said he won’t be a distraction.

— A Houston TV station reported accusations that Peterson abused another child.

— Did the Vikings shred their code of conduct for their best player?

— Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer returned to the Vikings yesterday, too.

— Head coach Mike Zimmer tried to put the focus back on his football team.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

— Saints RB Mark Ingram has a broken hand and is out indefinitely.

— Keenan Lewis defended fellow Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson.

— Saints WR Marques Colston was not targeted in Sunday’s loss to the Browns.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

Vikings players have the day off, but several will be at community events. Jabari Price, Andrew Sendejo, Vlad Ducasse and others will be at a “Play 60″ event at Catholic Charities-St. Joseph’s Home for Children this afternoon. Scott Crichton, Tom Johnson and others, plus Vikings alumni and cheerleaders, will be at an event for United Way and Arc’s Value Village at the Fairgrounds.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

WR Greg Jennings recorded his 500th career receptions in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. He is now 121st all-time in NFL history. If he catches another 500 more passes, he will be tied with former Steelers WR Hines Ward for ninth all-time. And if he catches another 500 after that, he’ll be second in NFL history to only 49ers great Jerry Rice, who caught 1,549 passes in his career.

Houston TV station reports another Peterson discipline incident

Posted by: Christopher Miller Updated September 16th at 6:26am 275218101

Adrian Peterson was investigated in another incident where he allegedly injured one of his children in a discipline incident, according to Houston television station KHOU.

Peterson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement after the station aired its story on its 6 p.m. news.

Said Hardin: “The allegation of another investigation into Adrian Peterson is simply not true. The allegation is more than one year old  and authorities took no action. An adult witness admittedly insists Adrian did nothing inappropriate with his son.”

Peterson, who was reinstated by the Vikings on Monday after sitting out Sunday’s game because of a criminal charge against him, was not charged in the incident reported by KHOU.

The children in the two incidents have different mothers, the station reported.

The station had alleged text messages between Peterson and the mother of the child in the incident in June of 2013 in Texas where Peterson admitted he hit the child while the child was in a car seat.

Two pictures were texted between Peterson and the mother. One showed the child with bandages on his forehead, and the other showed a scar allegedly left by the cuts.

The child’s mother filed a report with Child Protective Services but the result of that was not known, the station added.

The Vikings issued this statement: “As part of the information we have gathered throughout this process, we were made aware of an allegation from 2013 in which authorities took no action against Adrian. We will defer any further questions to Adrian’s attorney Rusty Hardin.”

Zimmer focusing on football, reflects on Patriots loss

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 15th at 4:27pm 275193381

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer deferred all questions regarding running back Adrian Peterson to general manager Rick Spielman, who spoke before him on Monday.

Zimmer wanted to keep his focus on the dismal performance against the Patriots, losing 30-7 on Sunday, and the Vikings matchup against the Saints in Week 3.

“My dream is still to take this football team and this organization to where we want to go,” Zimmer said. “I can’t let the so called distraction or things like this that we’re dealing with today affect my focus and trying to get this football team better. I’ve worked an awful long time to get to this position where I have the opportunity to do the things that we have the opportunity to do. I’m going to keep trying to do my best.”

The Vikings reinstated special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who was suspended two games for anti-gay comments made during the 2012 season. The organization had the option to shortened the ban from three games if Priefer cooperated with some of their demands, including sensitivity training.

“I’m proud that Mike did the things that he had to do,” Zimmer said. “I’m proud that we didn’t ruin a guy’s career because he made a mistake. I’m glad that we were able to stand by him. I appreciate all of his hard work and the things that he’s done during these two weeks.”

Zimmer also touched on the lingering issues involving offensive tackle Matt Kalil’s performance. He struggled, allowing two quarterback sacks and two quarterback hurries according to Pro Football Focus. Kalil also blew his assignment on a blocked field goal that defensive end Chandler Jones deflected and ran 58 yards for a touchdown.

“The guy he went up against yesterday, [Jones] probably went to Canton yesterday,” Zimmer said. He had a great game. He blocked a field goal, scored a touchdown, but Matt is still working on some things. We talked a little bit this morning about some things. He’s going to have to continue to get better. We’re going to have to get him better, and we expect him to get better.”

Zimmer didn’t feel cornerback Xavier Rhodes dealt with confidence issues after his performance on Sunday. He was called multiple times for penalties.

“Obviously we don’t want penalties defensively, but the good thing is if you want to take a positive out of that is we’re pretty darn close to all the receivers in those situations,” Zimmer said. “We’ve got to keep perfecting the technique of not only being in the right place and contesting catches but not committing fouls.”

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