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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Cordarrelle Patterson expects to be 100 percent vs. Washington

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated October 30th at 12:24pm 280952062

Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was asked on Thursday whether he’d be 100 percent on Sunday against the Redskins. He sounded like he took offense to the question about his health.

“Of course, man,” Patterson responded. “I’ll be out there no matter what. It’s going to be a big game for us. We’re going to be going on a bye week after that, so it’s big on us. We need to get this win.”

Patterson was in a walking boot after the overtime win over the Bucs, but it was removed a day after the game. Patterson wasn’t listed on the injury report on Wednesday. He had his left foot leaning against a pillar in the locker room while talking to reporters.

It’s good news for the Vikings offense, which witnessed Patterson receive a team-high 12 targets from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Patterson had a season-high six catches for 86 yards against the Bucs, and he’ll look to carry that connection over into this week.

“It all starts at practice,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to have good practice habits. Me and Teddy, we had a good week last week trying to find me the ball. And it paid off Sunday, so this week just keep building on from there and trying to get more balls.”

Up until the Bucs game, Patterson didn’t have more than four catches in a game  this season. His previous season-high in receiving yards was 61 against the Saints. Patterson has had a less than stellar season, but he hoping that will change after his recent performance.

“You’ve got to get good with the quarterback,” Patterson said. “It don’t matter how the game plan is with you. Sometimes the game plan can be around you, and you still don’t get the ball. You’ve just got to figure out the thing with your quarterback, and I feel like me and Teddy, we done hit and know where each other stands. Let’s just hope we can continue and build on from there.”

Vikings 4 Downs: RGIII or McCoy, O/U on Pro Bowlers, 2014 draft class and more

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated October 30th at 10:22am 280930362

Robert Griffin III will reportedly start after missing six weeks with a dislocated left ankle. He’ll likely be rusty, but I’d still think Griffin is a tougher matchup that Colt McCoy, who had a nice performance against the Cowboys on Monday. Griffin is the more talented quarterback and allows Washington to expand the playbook on offense.

Washington has still been able to get big plays through the air, whether it’s Griffin, McCoy or Kirk Cousins, because of their receivers. The Vikings secondary will have to stay on top of wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcson, while tight end Jordan Reed is a very solid option over the middle. I’m not sure how Griffin looks in practice but a backup like McCoy likely won’t sustain his early success as opponents get more film on him in Washington’s offense.

I’d take the over. This goes for Vikings players actually named to the Pro Bowl and not a Vikings player named as a replacement once 20 players drop out.

At this point, defensive end Everson Griffen appears to be on his way to a Pro Bowl invitation. He was just named NFC Defensive Player of the Month, leading the conference with six sacks in October. Outside of Griffen, what are the other options? Safety Harrison Smith is another good option to be named with his play and three interceptions to show for in the stats sheet.

Easy there, we’re only eight games into the season. Typically it takes three or four years to evaluate a draft class. We can’t just go off of immediate impacts because some flame out after their rookie seasons and turn into busts.

The only rookies that aren’t contributing are linebacker Brandon Watts, offensive guard David Yankey and defensive end Scott Crichton. Safety Antone Exum Jr. and cornerback Jabari Price have been receiving a heavy dosage of special teams snaps recently.

I still think in a few years the 2013 class will be tough to top considering the three first round picks selected – wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. It depends on how left tackle Matt Kalil’s career plays out, but the Vikings drafted Smith, cornerback Josh Robinson, wide receiver Jarius Wright, safety Robert Blanton and kicker Blair Walsh in 2012. That hasn’t been a bad class either.

But let’s give it some time before we make knee-jerk reactions to both classes. …Like during the offseason when we’re bored out of our minds and there’s nothing to talk about.

He’s probably next in line after the Vikings sealed up extensions with their 2011 class during the offseason. Smith fits Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s scheme and has developed into a well-rounded safety this season.

Given how inconsistent Kalil has been this year, I’d think Smith will be the priority during the offseason to give Zimmer a defense to build around Griffen, linebacker Anthony Barr and Smith for the long run. Those are three good pieces to have on defense and should make Vikings fans pretty excited about potentially how good this defense could be for years to come.

Everson Griffen named NFC Defensive Player of the Month

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated October 30th at 12:05pm 280921192

Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen received NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for October. It’s the first Player of the Month award in Griffen’s career.

He recorded an NFC-best six sacks this month, along with 20 tackles, eight tackles for loss and a forced fumble in four games. Griffen ranks third in the NFL with eight sacks this season.

It’s still early, but through eight games, Griffen has lived up to a five-year deal worth up to $42.5 million he signed during the offseason. While the price tag was a shock to many, including Forbes who named Griffen as the most overpaid player in the NFL, the deal will look reasonable if Griffen sustains his early season success.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Vikings pass defense on the rise, Barr gets some love and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated October 30th at 7:34am 280906972

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

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— The numbers mislead a little, but the Vikings pass defense is much improved.

— The Vikings are getting great pass-rushing push from their defensive tackles.

— Rookie OLB Anthony Barr was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week.

— Veteran DE Brian Robison missed yesterday’s practice with a gluteal injury.

— Coach Mike Zimmer downplayed the matchup with Redskins coach Jay Gruden.

— Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater feels comfortable running the two-minute drill.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

— Robert Griffin III will start at quarterback against the Vikings this weekend.

— The Redskins picked the right kicker when they stuck with Kai Forbath.

— MLB Keenan Robinson is bringing physicality to the Redskins defense.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The coordinators will be at the podium after the morning walkthrough. Practice is at 12:50 p.m.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

The MMQB website unveiled its midseason All-Pro team yesterday, and only one Vikings player received recognition. That was S Harrison Smith, who was a second-team selection behind Earl Thomas of the Seahawks and Troy Polamalu of the Steelers. This is just one list, but it does get you thinking about possible Pro Bowl selections. If Smith keeps playing at his current level, he will likely be headed to Arizona for the game. But will any teammates join him? Barr and DE Everson Griffen have produced the kind of splash plays and gaudy statistics to get attention. As for the offense, the Vikings, sans RB Adrian Peterson, haven’t come close to producing a legitimate candidate.

Robison sidelined with 'glute' injury

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated October 30th at 6:44am 280833812

Left defensive end Brian Robison, who has missed only two games in his eight-year career, didn’t practice today and is listed on the injury report with a “glute” injury. He played a season-low 40 snaps (67 percent) in Sunday’s win at Tampa Bay.

Also listed as having not practiced are tight end Kyle Rudolph (hernia surgery) and backup cornerback Jabari Price (hamstring).

Listed as having limited participation are: Cornerback Josh Robinson (ankle), defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (ankle/knee), linebacker Gerald Hodges (hamstring), safety Antone Exum (shoulder/ankle) and tight end Chase Ford (foot).

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