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.
The Vikings and the Wilf family announced this morning that they have agreed to commit an additional private contribution of $46.1 million toward the new stadium. With that commitment, the Vikings have now offered up a total of $49 million in additional contributions since November.
The additional money, which was promised to the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority at a meeting today, pushes the total private contributions from the team from $477 million to about $526 million.
The new money will go into the overall stadium budget and will ensure that amenities such as the five pivoting glass doors, elevators, escalators and acoustical treatments remain in the project.
“It is critical that the original stadium design unveiled in 2013 is delivered to the public when the new stadium opens in 2016,” said Vikings owner Mark Wilf. “Our goal is to provide the best game day experience possible for our fans and for everyone in Minnesota who uses the stadium. We strongly believed eliminating significant items that contribute to that fan experience was not an option.”
The public contribution toward the project remains at $498 million, the team said.
“The Vikings have made a significant contribution to the stadium budget, which allows us to maintain the original design to ensure the stadium is the most iconic, world-class stadium in the country and perhaps the world,” said MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen. “The team stepping up to make this contribution was instrumental in helping to solve our budget gap.”
Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— RB Adrian Peterson missed his second straight practice. He’s expected to travel to Kansas City.
— QB Matt Cassel’s excited to return to Arrowhead Stadium.
— OT Antonio “Tiny” Richardson’s fighting for a backup tackle spot.
— Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has moved on from the Chris Kluwe situation.
TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 21, 2014
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
— Lions WR Calvin Johnson will play his first preseason game on Friday against the Jaguars.
— Bears S Chris Conte will try to silence his critics in his first preseason game on Friday against the Seahawks.
— The Packers have a difficult decision to make with a surplus of outside linebackers.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
The Vikings will travel to Kansas City with their third preseason game against the Chiefs on Saturday at 7 p.m.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Wide receiver Rodney Smith had more catches against the Cardinals last week (4) than he did in four preseason games last year (3). Smith finished with 55 yards and the game-winning touchdown catch.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson missed practice for a second straight day as he deals with a personal matter, but the expectation is that he will be at Saturday night’s game in Kansas City.
That doesn’t mean Peterson will play against the Chiefs, though. Head coach Mike Zimmer said the other day he doesn’t feel the need to see Peterson in the preseason, so we probably won’t see him.
Also missing today’s muggy morning practice or watching from the side were nose tackle Linval Joseph (calf), cornerback Jabari Price (arm/shoulder), and linebackers Brandon Watts (lower leg) and Gerald Hodges (knee). None of those four players are expected to suit up against the Chiefs.
Outside linebacker Chad Greenway (wrist) did, as promised, practice fully today after being held out of team drills yesterday. And he delivered the highlight of an uneventful practice when he kicked the football into the woods after dropping a would-be interception near the goal zone. It was a pretty impressive punt, but consider Zimmer unimpressed. Zimmer told the veteran to not do that again, and moments later, Greenway emerged from the trees carrying not one, but two footballs.
Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer didn’t say as much, but it doesn’t take a body language expert to deduce that he’s ready for the Chris Kluwe questions to disappear.
Priefer met with reporters after today’s practice. This week’s settlement of Kluwe’s lawsuit against the Vikings was brought up when Priefer was asked for his opinion on the terms of the settlement and whether he was relieved to have the lawsuit behind him.
“You know,” he started, “I’m really excited about playing the Kansas City Chiefs. I’ve been focused on them all week. It’s something that I really haven’t given it much thought. The bottom line is we got a game to play and a season to prepare for.”
Priefer was suspended for the first three games of the regular season because of an anti-gay comment he made to Kluwe, the team’s former punter, in a team setting in 2012. He can reduce the suspension to two games by completing sensitivity training.
Thoughts on interim special teams coordinator Joe Marciano:
Priefer said things are going very well Marciano, who will be the team’s interim special teams coordinator during Priefer’s suspension.
“He’s a very knowledgeable coach,” Priefer said. “He’s been successful. He’s been in this league a long time. We’re trading ideas as we’ve been game-planning those first two ballgames, first three ballgames, actually. We just haven’t gotten as far as [Week 3 against] New Orleans yet because it’s a lot of work. But we’re getting there.
“Unfortunately, I have to leave the building for a few weeks, but we’re going to leave the guys in good hands.”
Walsh was 47 of 50 in practice:
Priefer said he’s not worried about kicker Blair Walsh, who is 0 for 2 from 50 yards and beyond during the preseason. Walsh also missed a 33-yard PAT in the closing seconds of last week’s win over the Cardinals.
“”He’s had a really good training camp,” Priefer said. “Going into that game the other night, he was 47 of 50 in team period. Obviously, that doesn’t mean a whole lot when you miss a couple of field goals. But he’s striking the ball well. He’s hitting the ball well. We’re working on a little bit of the follow through. We’ll tweak that and I think he’ll be just fine.”
Priefer said weather wasn’t a factor in any of Walsh’s preseason misses.
Hoping for Patterson kick returns
Cordarrelle Patterson has just started returning kicks in practice this week. The Vikings haven’t used him in the first two preseason games because his health is too valuable to risk over the course of a month’s worth of preseason games.
But Priefer said he’s hoping coach Mike Zimmer chooses to use Patterson for at least one or two returns on Saturday at Kansas City.
“I don’t think I need to see anything from [Patterson], but it’s one of those things that if you only do it in practice, the tempo isn’t the same, the timing isn’t the same,” Priefer said. “A lot of our returns are based off of timing, so getting him out there for a rep or two will help him get ready for St. Louis” in the regular season opener.
For the first time since he was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, Vikings top quarterback Matt Cassel will return to the city where he experienced probably the highest and lowest points of his NFL career, along with a bunch of personal memories Cassel will always cherish.
After Cassel’s breakout 2008 season in New England following a season-ending knee injury to Tom Brady, the Chiefs acquired him in 2009 and paid him big bucks to be their starter. A season later, the Chiefs won their division as Cassel had his only Pro Bowl season, tossing a career-high 27 touchdown passes with just seven interceptions.
But the honeymoon didn’t last for much longer after that, and things got so bad for Cassel during his turnover-plagued 2012 season that some fans at Arrowhead Stadium cheered when Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata knocked him out of an ugly game that the Ravens won, 9-6.
Still, despite that, Cassel said all the right things today about returning to Arrowhead Stadium.
“I’m excited to go back to Kansas City,” he said. “I haven’t been back since I left a few years ago. I’ve got a lot of close family friends there. We enjoyed our time there. My three children were born there. So I’ve got a lot of good memories in Kansas City, so it will be fun to go back and play.”
Cassel said he has “no ill will” towards the organization, and he said he is excited to catch up with the many familiar faces who were kind to him during his four years with the Chiefs.
“I’ve moved on. They’ve moved on. And it will be exciting to get out there and play against a good football team with a good defense as well,” said Cassel, who still owns a home in the K.C. area.
As for the quarterback competition that he is leading, Cassel said the coaches haven’t told him when a decision will be made, so he is only worried about playing well Saturday against the Chiefs.
“At this point, it’s just going to be one of those things where we just wait and see,” Cassel said. “Coach will make that ultimate decision. At the end of the day, I’m going to continue to prepare and do what I need to do to get ready for the season. And then when the time comes and coach tells us, then that’s what we’ll have to deal with.”
|Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman||1||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta||4|
|Houston - B. Peacock||6:05 PM|
|Cleveland - C. Carrasco|
|San Francisco - T. Hudson||6:05 PM|
|Washington - D. Fister|
|St. Louis - A. Wainwright||6:05 PM|
|Philadelphia - K. Kendrick|
|Chicago WSox - J. Danks||6:05 PM|
|NY Yankees - S. Greene|
|Tampa Bay - D. Smyly||6:07 PM|
|Toronto - M. Stroman|
|Atlanta - M. Minor||6:10 PM|
|Cincinnati - M. Latos|
|Seattle - F. Hernandez||6:10 PM|
|Boston - J. Kelly|
|Kansas City - Y. Ventura||7:05 PM|
|Texas - C. Lewis|
|Pittsburgh - J. Locke||7:10 PM|
|Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo|
|Detroit - R. Ray||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - T. Milone|
|Miami - H. Alvarez||7:40 PM|
|Colorado - F. Morales|
|San Diego - O. Despaigne||8:40 PM|
|Arizona - J. Collmenter|
|LA Angels - H. Santiago||9:05 PM|
|Oakland - S. Gray|
|NY Mets - J. Niese||9:10 PM|
|Los Angeles - D. Haren|
|NY Giants||6:30 PM|
|Tampa Bay||8/23/14 3:30 PM|
|Tennessee||8/23/14 6:00 PM|
|Dallas||8/23/14 6:00 PM|
|Washington||8/23/14 6:30 PM|
|New Orleans||8/23/14 7:00 PM|
|Minnesota||8/23/14 7:00 PM|
|St. Louis||8/23/14 7:00 PM|
|Houston||8/23/14 8:00 PM|
|San Diego||8/24/14 3:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||8/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Atlanta||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|Detroit||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Kansas City||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|NY Jets||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|St. Louis||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Carolina||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|New England||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|Washington||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|Baltimore||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Chicago||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Denver||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Minnesota||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|San Francisco||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Arizona||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Seattle||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Wake Forest||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Boise State||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss|
|Tulane||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Temple||8/28/14 8:15 PM|
|Rutgers||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Weber State||8/28/14 9:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State|
|BYU||8/29/14 6:00 PM|
|(6) Jacksonville St||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|(8) Michigan State|
|Bowling Green||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|TX-San Antonio||8/29/14 8:00 PM|
|Colorado State||8/29/14 8:00 PM|
|UNLV||8/29/14 9:30 PM|
|UCF||8/30/14 7:30 AM|
|Real Salt Lake||8:00 PM|
|Toronto||8/23/14 3:00 PM|
|Calgary||8/24/14 2:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||8/24/14 6:00 PM|
|Ottawa||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||8/31/14 2:00 PM|
|Toronto||9/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/1/14 3:30 PM|
|Los Angeles||9:00 PM|
Poll: Which of Rick Nelson’s must-try foods at the State Fair do you most want to try?