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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Asiata, Jennings, Floyd miss practice

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated November 20th at 3:40pm 283397831

We’re experiencing some issues with post showing up relatively quickly. And by relatively quick, we’re still waiting for the final from Super Bowl IX to show up …

But here goes. The injury report from today’s practice:

Missing practice entirely: RB Matt Asiata (concussion), WR Greg Jennings (rib) and DT Sharrif Floyd (knee). In an earlier post that hadn’t shown up, coach Mike Zimmer said Asiata was still going through his league concussion protocol. Asked about Floyd, Zimmer said the big fella “has a bruise” and it’s “nothing serious.”

Limited in practice: WR Jarius Wright (hamstring), RB Jerick McKinnon (low back), OT Mike Harris (ankle) and LB Anthony Barr (knee). Wright and McKinnon didn’t practice Wednesday.

Full participation in practice: CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle), DE Everson Griffen (neck), TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) and DE Scott Crichton (hip).

Surprised Ben Tate arrives, practices with Vikings

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 20th at 3:42pm 283395741

Vikings running back Ben Tate arrived to the Twin Cities on Thursday morning after he was claimed off waivers from the Browns.

When asked if he was surprised that the Browns waived him on Tuesday, Tate said, “Yeah. Of course. A little bit.” Tate dealt with a 24 hour period of uncertainty on where he’d land before the Vikings won the rights to Tate on Wednesday.

“It was tough,” Tate said on the last two days. “After being claimed, I’ve got a girl and a little boy so it’s definitely tough trying to get situated with that. Just traveling, not much sleep and not much eating. I’m starving.”

Tate practiced with the team, mixing in every few plays during each period as he gets situated with offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense. He’s never played underneath Turner, nor a system similar to what Turner runs.

He’s not sure whether the Vikings will activate him on Sunday, and that likely depends on the status of running backs Matt Asiata (concussion) and Jerick McKinnon (low back).

“I really didn’t know what to know what to expect,” McKinnon said about Tate’s acquisition. “I knew about him. I’m a younger guy, so I watched him in college (Auburn) and a little bit in the pros before I came out. I know he brings a lot to the table. I don’t know what the role is going to be for me or any other back or him, but I know he’ll bring some good contributions to the team and I’ll be excited to see what he does.”

Tate said he understands the Vikings current situation at running back, with Adrian Peterson suspended for at least the remainder of this season, but taking over as the lead back this year and possibly into next season isn’t what he’s worried about at the moment.

“I’m just focused on here and now, trying to learn this playbook, trying to do everything to the best of my ability, 100 percent,” Tate said. Trying to fit in, trying to learn the guys and just trying to become a member of this team; that’s my only focus right now.”

Zimmer on Tate: 'He's got good acceleration and he's a bit more of a thumper'

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated November 20th at 3:43pm 283394151

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t able to spell out his plan for how he’ll use newcomer Ben Tate because, A, NFL coaches are smart enough not to reveal game plans to reporters and B, the running back had just finished his first practice as a Viking.

“I don’t know yet,” Zimmer said. “He practiced some today. He got some reps and was in the blitz pickup. He was in everything, so we’ll see how fast he gets. It was a quick day for him.”

Zimmer said the reason Tate was claimed off waivers from the Browns on Wednesday is the team’s injury situation at running back, as well as the “finality of Adrian’s thing,” as in Adrian Peterson being suspended for the rest of the season on Tuesday.

The injury report will be out soon, but running backs Jerick McKinnon (lower back) and Matt Asiata (concussion) are on it. Zimmer said Asiata “is still going through” the league concussion protocol, which is required before returning to the field.

Tate shouldn’t be too rusty. He fell out of favor in Cleveland quickly, but did play on Sunday, carrying the ball twice for minus-9 yards. Zimmer said Tate looked “pretty good” in today’s practice.

“I didn’t see him make any mental mistakes, so that’s the first thing,” Zimmer said. “He had a 50-yard run on me [in Cincinnati] about three or four years ago.”

As for Tate’s strengths, according to Zimmer, the coach said, “He’s got good acceleration and he’s a little bit more of a thumper. Pound it up in there.”

As for how long it will take to know exactly what the heck he’s doing, Zimmer said Tate will need a little time.

“It’s a different system,” Zimmer said. “So he has to learn the different runs and protections and pass route combinations. That’s the big thing.”

Zimmer also talked about holding receiver Greg Jennings (rib), defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) and Asiata out of practice today. He said they’re progressing, “Good, for the most part. I think they’ll probably practice tomorrow.”

Asked specifically about Floyd, Zimmer said, “He practiced some yesterday. He’s just got a bruise. It’s nothing serious.”

Zimmer also gave left tackle Matt Kalil a pat on the back, saying, “He has been making strides. He’s been working hard in practice and is continually working on the techniques he needs to be working at, keeping his base wide. So I think he’s had a much better month.”

(Start the angry Kalil emails in 3 … 2 … 1 …)

Zimmer and the Vikings also are preparing for rain on Sunday.

“It’s hard to say when we don’t know how much rain,” Zimmer said. “But we have sections in the plan for all those scenarios.”

And, yeah, Teddy Bridgewater will wear his gloves.

“He’s been working that wet-ball drill all along,” Zimmer said. “So we’ll see.”

Turner explains decision to bring in Ben Tate

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated November 20th at 1:24pm 283378771

The Vikings claimed former Texans and Browns running back Ben Tate off waivers yesterday, adding him to a backfield that right now is missing its three top running backs from back in Week 1.

Adrian Peterson, of course, is suspended for the rest of the season. Matt Asiata is dealing with a concussion, putting his status for Sunday’s game against the Packers in doubt. And Jerick McKinnon, the current starter, has been dealing with a lower back injury that kept him out of practice yesterday.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner explained that the decision to claim Tate, who was waived by the Browns on Tuesday, was more about the numbers game at the position than anything else.

“I’ve never been with Ben Tate and I’m not real familiar,” Turner said. “Obviously, we’re in a situation where yesterday we had one back that could practice, so the timing of him being released and the opportunity for us to add a back, certainly it was good timing. And we’re getting started with Ben and trying to teach him our system and hopefully get him where he can be ready to go contribute.”

Turner isn’t sure how much Tate can contribute this weekend, as he only has a couple of days to learn the playbook. Turner said the Vikings can only dumb down the offense for Tate so much.

“We’ll see what our situation is,” Turner said. “Obviously you water it down too much then those guys on the other side, it’s pretty obvious to them. But hopefully there are some things we can get him involved with.”

As for McKinnon, Turner said the addition of Tate has nothing to do with how they feel about the rookie, who was back at practice this afternoon.

“We’re excited about Jerick and what he’s done and I see him as our running back,’’ Turner said. “He’s been limited in practice last week and couldn’t practice yesterday. Hopefully he can practice today. So you’ve got to protect yourself, obviously with Matt not being able to practice yesterday and in doubt as to whether he’ll play or not.’’

Peterson's appeal letter published

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated November 20th at 1:28pm 283378071

Adrian Peterson has appealed his NFL-mandated suspension, which runs through April 15 of next year, through the NFL Players Association.

A letter from the NFLPA e-mailed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been published by ESPN.

The letter outlines the familiar reasons previously espoused by the NFLPA, which clearly feels Peterson’s discipline is a product of Goodell’s desire to crack down more firmly on violators in wake of the Ray Rice incident. The letter says no first-time violator of the league’s disciplinary policy has served more than a two-game suspension.

Peterson’s appeal will be heard on Dec. 2. Goodell also hears the appeals, but the NFLPA asked for a neutral arbitrator.

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