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.
It was a healthier day for four Vikings who were upgraded from Wednesday’s injury report to today’s injury report.
Free safety Harrison Smith (shoulder/ankle) went from not practicing to being limited, while running back Matt Asiata (concussion), left tackle Matt Kalil (knee) and linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) went from limited to full participation.
Here’s today’s injury report:
Did not participate: TE Chase Ford (hamstring/foot), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee), RB Jerick McKinnon (low back) and DT Sharrif Floyd (knee).
Limited participation: Smith (shoulder/ankle),
Full participation: Kalil, Asiata, Barr, TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin), WR Jarius Wright (hamstring), WR Greg Jennings (rib) and RT Mike Harris (ankle).
Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Despite similar records, the Vikings and Panthers are in very different spots.
— Panthers C Ryan Kalil defended his little brother, Vikings LT Matt Kalil.
— RT Phil Loadholt is disappointed that his season is over due to his injury.
— S Harrison Smith is one of five Vikings who missed yesterday’s practice.
— QB Teddy Bridgewater wants to take advantage of easy completions.
TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY
— Vikings PR (@VikingsPR) November 26, 2014
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
— It has been a frustrating season for Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams.
— Panthers QB Cam Newton is handling adversity better this season.
— Carolina CB Josh Norman has become one of the team’s best defenders.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
The Vikings are practicing on Thanksgiving, but there is no media access. Enjoy your turkey and football, folks. I know I will.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t like to match up cornerbacks on specific wide receivers. Instead, he keeps his outside cornerbacks on their designated sides to simplify things for his players and help disguise his coverages. But Zimmer said he might consider using CB Xavier Rhodes on imposing Panthers rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin. Considering the way the Bears took advantage of a size advantage against CB Josh Robinson two weeks ago, that uncharacteristic change would make sense.
Here’s today’s injury report …
Did not participate: TE Chase Ford (hamstring/foot), FS Harrison Smith (shoulder/ankle), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee), RB Jerick McKinnon (low back) and DT Sharrif Floyd (knee).
Limited participation: RB Matt Asiata (concussion), LT Matt Kalil (knee) and LB Anthony Barr (knee).
Full participation: TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin), WR Jarius Wright (hamstring), WR Greg Jennings (rib) and RT Mike Harrison (ankle).
The Kalil family obviously isn’t quite as appalled as some that Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil flipped the hat off a heckling fan after Sunday’s 24-21 loss to the Packers.
On Monday, Matt Kalil himself said it “wasn’t a big deal.” Today, Kalil’s older brother, Ryan, the starting center for the Carolina Panthers, joked about the incident that became a popular video on TMZ.
“I was a little disappointed,” said Ryan, whose Panthers play the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday. “I would have actually liked him to go with the, ‘You spilled something on your shirt’ and then throw the finger up into [the fan's] chin. I think that would have been a funnier move.”
Ryan said he was on the phone with his father, Frank, at about the same time news broke that Matt had confronted a fan outside TCF Bank Stadium. Frank, a former center, was drafted by the Bills in 1982 before playing in the USFL.
“I asked my dad if he heard what happened,” Ryan said. “He said, ‘Yeah, I heard the whole thing. It was an ugly deal.’ He said the guy called Matt over and said he was big fan. Asked for his autograph. [Matt] went over there and then the fan continued to start saying some pretty ugly stuff to him. So I think my brother just kind of reacted.
“It’s probably my fault for picking on him when he was little. Flipping his hat off, I think, was the go-to move for me.”
On a more serious note, Ryan said Matt’s struggles and Sunday’s incident are learning experiences.
“Everybody goes through it,” he said. “You try to remind yourself that that’s part of it and you got to fight through it. That’s part of the profession. That part isn’t going to go away and the quicker you can realize that, the more you can be mentally tough and drown all that out the better off you’ll be.
“When you’re not winning, that’s the hardest thing. Everything is worse when you’re not winning. I know that frustration personally. Nobody is immune to hecklers. We get them daily here, too. We get them on social media and there are times when I’ve had to bite my tongue. It’s hard. It’s not easy to deal with. Yeah, I think it’s a lot of different frustrations. And I think it’s also an individual who doesn’t represent the Vikings’ fan base who was being pretty ugly.”
Matt’s play on the field, meanwhile, has been a bigger issue. He has given up 11 sacks, according to Pro Football Focus, and was penalized three times in Sunday’s loss.
Ryan said he watches every one of Matt’s game tapes and talks to him after every game. He said this is “absolutely” the most frustrated he has ever seen his brother.
“I think he’s his hardest critic,” Ryan said. “I think it really weighs on him when he doesn’t play well. I think for the most part, he has played well. I know he’s been struggling with his knee,” which underwent arthroscopic surgery during the offseason.
“Confidence is everything in this league,” Ryan continued. “The hardest thing is to sort of drown out the criticism. Some of the criticism is fair and a lot of it’s not. But that’s part of the game and that goes for everybody. It’s frustrating hearing bad things written about Matt because I know what a good guy he is and how hard he works and cares. That’s frustrating, him being my brother.”
Ryan thinks Matt will learn from the experience this season.
“He’s going to continue to grow and he’ll bounce back from that, but I think for the most part, he’s played fine,” he said. “He does a lot of good things. I think late in the game, being down and in a lot of passing situations, it’s hard. It’s not ever one thing that happens. Not making excuses for him.
“At the end of the day, you got to block. But I think the biggest thing I’ll say about Matt is he works hard. I know he’s very talented. I know the knee thing bothers him. I think he’ll be fine though. I think he’ll be good player for a long time.”
We got the answer to Matt Asiata’s concussion protocol progression. He has passed because he was practicing during the portion of practice open to reporters moments ago.
Meanwhile, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and running back Jerick McKinnon weren’t spotted by these eyes. Floyd missed Sunday’s game because of a knee injury. Patterson injured his ankle and knee on a kickoff return. And McKinnon has been battling a low back injury for a couple of weeks.
The Vikings will issue an injury report at the end of practice, so it’s best to wait to see the official word on injuries.
|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|
|Oakland||11/30/14 12:00 PM|
|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|
|Denver||11/30/14 7:30 PM|
|Miami||12/1/14 7:30 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton||67||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||73||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||73||FINAL|
|San Jose St||56||FINAL|
|UC Santa Barbara||71|
|Northern Ill||10:00 AM|
|Western Ky||11:00 AM|
|Ball State||12:00 PM|
|(13) Arizona State||2:30 PM|
|(21) Colorado State||2:30 PM|
|East Carolina||7:30 PM|
|North Texas||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Old Dominion||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|(16) Georgia Tech||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Kentucky||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|So Carolina||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|West Virginia||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Rice||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|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|
|Syracuse||11/29/14 11:30 AM|
|Louisiana||11/29/14 11:30 AM|
|Utah||11/29/14 12:00 PM|
|Texas State||11/29/14 1:00 PM|
|Idaho||11/29/14 1:00 PM|
|Wyoming||11/29/14 2:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||11/29/14 2:00 PM|
|UAB||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|(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|
|(22) Minnesota||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|(5) Baylor||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|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|
|Middle Tennessee||11/29/14 6:00 PM|
|Hawaii||11/29/14 6:00 PM|
|Wake Forest||11/29/14 6:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||11/29/14 6:00 PM|
|(15) Auburn||11/29/14 6:45 PM|
|(3) Oregon||11/29/14 7:00 PM|
|Utah State||11/29/14 9:15 PM|
|(25) Boise State|
|Washington||11/29/14 9:30 PM|
|Nevada||11/29/14 9:30 PM|
|UCF||12/4/14 6:30 PM|
|Hamilton||11/30/14 5:00 PM|
|San Diego State||68|
|Fla Gulf Coast||56|
|(1) South Carolina||67|
|(19) Oregon State||85||FINAL|
Poll: Which NFL game do you most want to sneak away to watch on Thanksgiving?