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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Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Ponder, Bridgewater vs. Manziel and more

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated August 20th at 8:22am 271988481

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

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— QB Christian Ponder not written off by Vikings coaching staff.

— Jim Souhan thinks QB Teddy Bridgewater has been more poised than Browns QB Johnny Manziel.

— Mark Craig looks at the “points of emphasis” causing more penalties in the preseason.

— WR Jerome Simpson said meeting with NFL went great.

— RB Adrian Peterson likely won’t play during the preseason.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

— Lions head coach Jim Caldwell impressed by QB Matthew Stafford.

— Former Bears LB Tim Shaw has ALS.

— Packers waive injured TE Colt Lyerla, to be placed on injured reserve.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings will conclude their walkthrough at 11:10 a.m. and will be followed by Zimmer’s press conference. Practice will begin at 12:50 p.m. once again.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

While the quarterbacks received the headlines from Saturday’s victory over the Cardinals, the offense line also made strides in pass protection during the second preseason game. The unit allowed just one sack after giving up six against the Raiders.

Peterson, Zimmer decide All-Day won't include preseason playing time

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 19th at 9:08pm 271899511

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Adrian Peterson have talked about the perennial All-Pro running back’s preseason playing time and have essentially decided what any one of the rest of us schlubs would have.

“I really don’t see the need,” Zimmer said after practice today.

Zimmer didn’t rule it out, but don’t expect Peterson to play Saturday at Kansas City or the following Thursday at Tennessee.

“I doubt it,” Zimmer said. “Adrian and I have talked about it a little bit and I really don’t see the need. We’re grabbing at the ball pretty good. We’re not tackling him or anything. He’s doing a great job with the protections and the routes and obviously he runs really good.

“The only concern you have is he might not have been hit enough. But our guys are grabbing at the ball a lot. They’re punching at the ball as he’s running in there. I talked to him about those things.”

In other news:

  • Defensive end Brian Robison missed his second practice to tend to a personal issue. But Robison rejoined the team this afternoon and will play on Saturday, Zimmer said
  • Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) returned to practice today. His status for Saturday will be determined later this week.
  • Cornerback Shaun Prater (head injury) was cleared and returned to practice today.
  • Receiver Jerome Simpson, who missed yesterday’s practice to attend a meeting at league headquarters concerning his possible suspension, also practiced.
  • Not practicing today because of injuries were cornerback Jabari Price, linebacker Gerald Hodges and linebacker Brandon Watts.
  • Zimmer was asked if the lawsuit settlement with former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe brought a sense of closure in his mind to the situation involving special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. Priefer will serve a three-game suspension — which can be reduced to two games with sensitivity training — because of an anti-gay remark he made to Kluwe in a team setting in 2012. “I honestly have not thought about it very much,” Zimmer said. “I felt like Mike Priefer is a good person and a good coach and a good guy. That’s just how I felt the entire time. So whatever happened legally with the courts and all the other stuff, I’m just a football coach.”
  • Zimmer was asked what his comfort level would be with keeping two quarterbacks. His response: “I don’t see us going with two quarterbacks, if that’s what you’re asking.”

NFL teams told that practice squad will increase to 10 players

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 19th at 3:30pm 271897431

There was good news today for NFL teams looking to establish more depth and fringe players looking for more paychecks.

According to an NFL source, the league sent out a memo today saying the eight-man practice squad has been increased to 10 players.

The Vikings have several young players they like at key spots such as cornerback and offensive line. With the two extra practice squad spots, they, like every other team, will have more options available to develop players.

Players released from the active roster must clear waivers before being placed on the practice squad. They also can be signed to any other team’s 53-man roster.

If you think Turner has no use for three QBs, Norv says you're mistaken (see: Cleveland, '13)

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 19th at 2:27pm 271868991

To those who think Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has absolutely no use for No. 3 quarterback Christian Ponder, hop aboard this time machine and we’ll travel allllll the way back to … well, last year.

Turner was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland. By Week 3, Turner was down to his second starting quarterback. By Week 8 – less than halfway through the season – he was on his third starting quarterback.

Overall, the Browns had three quarterbacks start at least three games. Brandon Weeden started Week 1 and made five starts. Brian Hoyer started Week 3 – beating the Vikings at the Metrodome, in case you forgot – and made three starts. And Jason Campbell started Week 8 and made eight starts.

With fans and others stuck on discussing the potential for Ponder to be traded or released as the Vikings go with just two quarterbacks on the roster, today seemed to be a good day to ask Turner the following:

“Norv, considering what you went through in Cleveland last year, does that give you a heightened sense of appreciation for your third quarterback?”

“Absolutely,” Turner said. “It never gets portrayed that way. I was obviously very disappointed in the opening game the way our fans reacted to Christian because I think he’s done everything he can do. He’s working his butt off. I think he’s a guy who is going to be valuable to our team.”

Ponder didn’t play in the second preseason game. But when you’ve been in the NFL for 30 seasons, as Turner has, you tend to expect the unexpected when it comes to injuries and the like. So you still carve out a little time for the guy at the end of the depth chart.

“The thing in Cleveland is we had three different guys have their career-best games in three different situations,” Turner said. “We didn’t win the games because we gave up a touchdown at the end of the game or something kept us from winning the game that was out of the quarterback’s hands. Having three quarterbacks, if that’s the way we end up going, it’s extremely valuable to me.”

Weeden’s best game saw him complete 24 of 40 passes (60.0) for 370 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 94.8 passer rating in a loss to Jacksonville. Hoyer’s best game actually came in a win over Cincinnati when he completed 25 of 38 passes (65.8) for 269 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 103.9 rating. And Campbell’s best performance came in a loss to New England, when he completed 29 of 44 passes (65.9) for 391 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a 116.8 rating.

Turner, of course, doesn’t set the final roster. He was asked if he’d push head coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman to keep all three quarterbacks currently on the roster.

“There are advantages to going both ways and we’ll adjust to whatever,” he said. “But I think we have a pretty good quarterback situation right now.”

Simpson believes meeting with the NFL 'went great'

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated August 19th at 11:56am 271864821

Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson is back at Winter Park today after traveling to New York with his lawyer, David Valentini, for a Monday disciplinary hearing to appeal a three-game NFL suspension stemming from a DWI arrest last year. Simpson believes the hearing “went great.”

“I just told them the truth, told them the truth,” the 28-year-old said. “The records and the facts show what happened.”

Asked what he thought his suspension should be reduced to, Simpson replied, “I don’t know. That’s up to the discretion of them.”

Simpson avoided jail time in January after pleading guilty to careless driving and third-degree DWI from a Nov. 9 arrest. He was placed on one-year probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service in public schools.

The Vikings, aware of a possible suspension, re-signed Simpson to a one-year deal this offseason.

It was the second suspension for Simpson, who was banned three games by the NFL after a drug arrest in September 2011. Simpson was indicted on a felony drug-trafficking change, but later plead to a lesser felony charge of “being involved in a prohibited act relating to controlled substances.” He was sentenced in Kentucky to 15 days in jail in April 2012.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said this morning that the Vikings will be prepared if Simpson’s suspension is upheld, saying that the team has contingency plans in place for a variety of situations.

“You have to have a varied plan,” he said. “Unfortunately in this game, guys miss [games] — whether it’s a case when a guy misses because off an off-the-field thing or we could be in the opening game and someone we’re counting on to play a big role sprains his ankle on the third play. And we have to plan to go play and do the things we want to do. We have plans and there are certain plays that Simp is really good on. There’s other guys that have to fill in if he’s not in for that play.”

Turner believes the Vikings have other viable deep threats, including Greg Jennings, to fill the void.

Meanwhile, Simpson made it clear that will accept the league’s final decision and move forward.

“I’m just ready to get it behind me,” he said.

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