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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Counting Snaps from Packers 24, Vikings 21

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated November 24th at 11:59am 283714761

While counting snaps and looking for the meaning of life, or at least Sunday’s game …


QUARTERBACKS: Teddy Bridgewater 68, Christian Ponder DNP.

Thoughts: It’s not a coincidence that Bridgewater played in the Packers game that was competitive and Ponder played in the game that was 42-0 en route to 42-10. Granted, Teddy B got the home game and Chistian P got Lambeau Field on a short week after having not taken a snap all year. Although Teddy B looked good in the second half, he continues to look not-so-good in the first half. One has to wonder when the Vikings will try a no-huddle outside of two-minute situations. Teddy is so much more comfortable running a no-huddle at this point. Teddy B also learned not to throw the ball to the other team, especially when it’s the Packers because the margin for error is basically zero. Ponder threw two second-quarter picks that led to 14 points back on Oct. 2. Bridgewater threw one pick that led to seven points. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

RUNNING BACKS: Jerick McKinnon 39, Joe Banyard 29, Ben Tate DNP, Matt Asiata INA, FB Jerome Felton 5, FB Zach Line INA.

Thoughts: In hindsight, it probably was silly to think Tate would play when he showed up on a Wednesday before kickoff. There’s more to the running back position that, well, running. And Norv Turner’s offense takes some time to adjust to. Plus, the Vikings liked Banyard enough to have him active before. Banyard looked like a young back with fresh legs making his first regular-season NFL carries. He showed a nice jump cut for a first down on third down. He averaged 5.2 yards on five carries in a solid debut. Assuming Asiata can return from a concussion this week, the running back position is a bit crowded. The Vikings don’t want to admit they’re out of the playoff picture, but you’d have to think they’d want to get a look at Tate, considering his age (26) and Adrian Peterson’s uncertain future with the team.

OFFENSIVE LINE: LT Matt Kalil 68, LG Charlie Johnson 68, C John Sullivan 68, RG Joe Berger 68, RT Phil Loadholt 59, RT Mike Harris 9, G David Yankey INA, G Austin Wentworth INA.

Thoughts: The initial thoughts? That offensive line is the No. 1 priority heading into the offseason. Does Kalil, who struggled again with three penalties, move to left guard, where Johnson won’t be returning? Does the team draft another left tackle? Does the team draft a guard higher than Day 3? At this point, everything should be on the table because, quite frankly, the offensive line isn’t performing well enough consistently enough for a quarterback and an offensive to function at a high level. Loadholt missed nine snaps and will be getting an MRI on his shoulder today.  Harris has had no glaring errors in limited action at guard and right tackle. If Kalil’s knee is as bad as he told us a week ago, then it’s time to sit him and see what Harris can do. The guess here is Harris would make everyone realize that things could indeed be worse without Kalil. But that further enhances the point that maybe the team needs to study all options heading into next year’s draft.

RECEIVERS, TIGHT ENDS: WR Charles Johnson 66, WR Greg Jennings 61, TE Kyle Rudolph 60, WR Cordarrelle Patterson 32, TE Rhett Ellison 30, WR Jarius Wright 8, TE Chase Ford 6, WR Adam Thielen 4.

Thoughts: It’s hard to fathom that it has come to this for the receiving corps. A month after Johnson, a second-year player with no previous regular-season experience, was signed off the street, he led the Vikings in snaps with 97 percent against the Packers. And what’s more amazing is the kid deserved the reps. What in the world is going on at receiver? Patterson continues to be a poor route runner and was injured returning a kickoff. Jennings continues to go long stretches where you wonder if he has even played. Wright is the most underrated receiver on the team, but his hamstring wasn’t back to full speed. Bridgewater’s reliance on throwing the ball to Johnson also needs to be tempered some. Yeah, Johnson appears to be one of the few targets getting separation. But there was at least one play Sunday where Jennings was open to the outside and Bridgewater stayed locked onto Johnson before throwing high and incomplete. At tight end, Rudolph looked more like his old self with some nice catch and runs. It’s a shame Ford can’t see more time, but there are only so many reps for the tight ends. Then again, the way the receivers are producing, maybe an extra dose of Rudolph and Ford together wouldn’t be a bad idea. Ellison had 24 more reps than Ford. If Ford were a better blocker, that discrepancy could be closed.


LINEBACKERS: OLB Anthony Barr 65, OLB Chad Greenway 65, MLB Jasper Brinkley 14, OLB Gerald Hodges 2, OLB Brandon Watts INA, MLB Michael Mauti INA.

Thoughts: Barr is still exceptional and deserving of being on the field for every snap. But there were more missed tackles on Sunday. That being said, don’t worry about this guy. He may be the face of the franchise before Teddy becomes the face of the franchise. Hodges played two defensive snaps and made a gigantic blunder on one of them. He’s the one who got confused and didn’t cover the tight end who was open by 15 yards in the corner of the end zone on Aaron Rodgers’ 1-yard touchdown pass. Interesting that Mauti was inactive. He seems too good a player to be sitting out. But the Vikings are working through some adjustments on special teams.

DEFENSIVE LINE: DE Everson Griffen 59, NT Linval Joseph 52, DE Brian Robison 48, DT Tom Johnson 40, DT Shamar Stephen 39, DE Corey Wootton 23, DT Sharrif Floyd INA.

Thoughts: The defensive line didn’t make any glaring gaffes like the first Packers game. But it’s never a good thing for the D-Line when everyone knows the other team is going to run the ball straight ahead and yet they’re still able to do so successfully. The Packers did that with Eddie Lacy early, often and especially late. Stephen, a rookie, got his first start when Floyd was deactivated because of a knee injury.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: SS Robert Blanton 65, FS Harrison Smith 65, CB Xavier Rhodes 63, CB Captain Munnerlyn 62, CB Josh Robinson 52, S Andrew Sendejo 1.

Thoughts: The secondary played one of the best games that a Vikings secondary has played against Rodgers in recent memory. The longest reception by a receiver — Randall Cobb’s 29-yarder — was a ridiculously perfect throw (and one Rodgers makes routinely) against tight coverage by Munnerlyn. Blanton still has not missed a defensive snap this season. He’s the only defender that can say that. Robinson didn’t have a head-turning great game, but unlike last week in Chicago, he also didn’t have a head-turning horrendous game.


OVERALL SNAPS LEADER: Blanton 73 (65 defense, 8 special teams).

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Too much Rodgers and Lacy, Kalil ducks the media and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated November 24th at 7:34am 283689261

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


— There was simply too much Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy to handle yesterday.

— The Packers used Lacy and the running game to finish off the Vikings.

— Struggling LT Matt Kalil dodged reporters, but he couldn’t dodge controversy.

— Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater said that nervous energy affected his play early.

— Head coach Mike Zimmer second-guessed his decision to not do an onside kick late.

— WR Cordarrelle Patterson and RT Phil Loadholt were injured in the loss.



— The Packers won a close game for the first time in a long while.

— The Packers used Lacy and the running game to secure the victory.

— Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has conquered the Vikings.

— Both Packers guards played through pain against the Vikings.


The Vikings are back at Winter Park today to attend meetings and go through the Packers film. The locker room will be open to media and Zimmer will hold his usual press conference at 2 p.m.


The Packers have now scored 23 or more points in 17 straight games against the Vikings.

Vikings rely on depth at key positions in loss

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 23rd at 4:56pm 283642901

Joe Banyard. Charles Johnson. Shamar Stephen.

Three names the Vikings didn’t exactly think they’d rely on in a game but, nevertheless, played important roles in 24-21 loss to the Packers on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Johnson and Stephen both made their first career starts at wide receiver and defensive tackle. Johnson started over wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and had a team-high 11 targets. The Packers seventh round pick in 2013 finished with three receptions for 52 yards and his first career touchdown reception, a 22-yard pass from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

“It was exciting,” Johnson said. “The team that drafted me I got my first catch on (in Week 5) and now I got my first touchdown on and my first start. It was pretty exciting for me but kind of overshadowed now that we lost.

“I know what type of player I can be, I know what type of player I am,” Johnson said. “It’s just all about opportunity. Hard work makes opportunity and creates your own success.”

Stephen replaced defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who was out with a knee injury, at the three-technique spot. The seventh rounder played a bigger role, rotating with defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Tom Johnson at the nose and three-technique positions.

“It was pretty good and exciting trying to come out trying to play my best,” Stephen said. “Just doing my job and just commit to our gameplan; keying in on my fundamentals and technique.”

Banyard didn’t start and really didn’t know what his role would be with the Vikings acquiring running back Ben Tate off waivers from the Browns on Wednesday. The second-year running back however served as rookie running back Jerick McKinnon’s backup over Tate, who did not play.

Banyard finished with five carries for 26 yards and three catches for 19 yards, flashing some of the potential he displayed during the preseason.

“Collectively, we see ourselves as one group,” Banyard said of the running backs. “So we don’t really see ourselves as individuals. When the next guy is called up, we just try to encourage each other and make sure we stay on par. It doesn’t really affect anything because we all practice together.”

Bridgewater says being 'very excited' to play Packers affected his first-half accuracy

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated November 23rd at 4:48pm 283642661

You might have noticed that Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looked very much like a jittery rookie quarterback in the first half of Sunday’s 24-21 loss to the Packers at TCF Bank Stadium.

His throws were sailing or bouncing or, in once case, being picked off and used to set up a Packers touchdown and a 14-7 lead. For the first half, Bridgewater completed 11 of 22 passes for 122 yards, one touchdown and one interception. In the second half, he completed 10 of 15 passes for 88 yards, one touchdown, a two-point conversion and no interceptions.

So, what gives about the slow starts, Teddy?

“Coming into this game, I wasn’t able to play the first time we played the Green Bay Packers,” said Bridgewater, referring to the 42-10 debacle he missed because of a sprained ankle back on Oct. 2. “I was trying to get a feel for this rivalry. Now I know what it’s about.

“I was just very excited about being able to play the Green Bay Packers for the first time. I just have to settle down and remain poised and let the game come to me. We have a great group of guys here who will pull me to the side. Or [quarterbacks] Coach Scott Turner, who is on the sideline with me. He just tells me consistently throughout the game, ‘You’re going to have some ups and downs, but just keep fighting.’”

That’s a long way around saying he was nervous to start the game.

Vikings' Loadholt, Patterson suffer injuries in loss to Packers

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated November 23rd at 4:27pm 283641831

Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson both dealt with injuries in the 24-21 loss to the Packers on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Loadholt will have an MRI on his left shoulder after suffering the injury with six minutes left on the Vikings’ final offensive possession. He kept moving around his shoulder, attempting to loosen it up, before he was replaced by Mike Harris at right tackle.

Loadholt declined to comment after the game about the injury.

Patterson suffered a knee and ankle injury after a 42-yard kickoff return with 2:41 left in the third quarter. It was his longest return of the season, but Patterson was tackled from behind by safety Morgan Burnett.

The wide receiver was listed as questionable but returned on the team’s final drive.

“It was the fourth quarter and the trainer told me if I could go, then go,” Patterson said. “Just go out there and finish the game, and we’ll talk about it later. I felt like I needed to be out there to try and help the team out, so I got back out there.”


Cleveland 26 FINAL
Atlanta 24
Tennessee 24 FINAL
Philadelphia 43
Detroit 9 FINAL
New England 34
Green Bay 24 FINAL
Minnesota 21
Jacksonville 3 FINAL
Indianapolis 23
Cincinnati 22 FINAL
Houston 13
Tampa Bay 13 FINAL
Chicago 21
Arizona 3 FINAL
Seattle 19
St. Louis 24 FINAL
San Diego 27
Miami 36 FINAL
Denver 39
Washington 13 FINAL
San Francisco 17
Dallas 31 FINAL
NY Giants 28
NY Jets 6:00 PM
Baltimore 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
LA Clippers 6:00 PM
Portland 6:00 PM
Orlando 6:00 PM
Phoenix 6:30 PM
New York 7:00 PM
Indiana 7:30 PM
Chicago 8:00 PM
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Philadelphia 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
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Minnesota 6:30 PM
East Carolina 11:00 AM
Green Bay
Nevada 12:30 PM
Weber State
Evansville 1:30 PM
Fresno State
Purdue 1:30 PM
Kansas State
Dillard 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
Clemson 3:00 PM
Georgia State 3:30 PM
Chicago State
MD-Eastern Shore 3:30 PM
Missouri 4:00 PM
Austin Peay 4:30 PM
Indiana State
Milwaukee 5:00 PM
Marist 5:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Gardner-Webb 5:30 PM
Old Dominion
Hampton 6:00 PM
Appalachian St
Grambling St 6:00 PM
Ball State
FIU 6:00 PM
Ga Southern
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Colgate 6:00 PM
James Madison
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Arizona State 6:00 PM
Santa Clara 6:00 PM
Michigan State
Western Carolina 6:00 PM
SE Louisiana 6:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Bucknell 6:00 PM
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VA Commonwealth
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Murray State 6:00 PM
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Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
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Brown 7:00 PM
Pepperdine 7:00 PM
Rider 7:00 PM
Prairie View 7:00 PM
Clayton State 7:00 PM
Miss State
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
TX A&M-Int 7:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Oregon State 7:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Hawaii 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Seton Hall 8:00 PM
Illinois State
NJIT 8:00 PM
Stetson 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Florida A&M 8:00 PM
Pittsburgh 8:00 PM
Alabama 8:30 PM
Iowa State
Michigan 8:30 PM
Colorado Christian 8:30 PM
Northern Colorado
Chadron State 8:30 PM
South Dakota St
Western Mich 9:00 PM
San Diego
SIU Edwardsville 9:05 PM
Portland State
Tulsa 10:00 PM
BYU 10:30 PM
San Diego St
Char Southern 9 FINAL
(8) Georgia 55
South Alabama 12 FINAL
So Carolina 37
Rutgers 3 FINAL
(10) Michigan State 45
(22) Minnesota 28 FINAL
Nebraska 24
Northwestern 38 FINAL
Purdue 14
(19) Marshall 23 FINAL
UAB 18
Kansas 7 FINAL
(20) Oklahoma 44
Indiana 27 FINAL
(7) Ohio State 42
Penn State 14 FINAL
Illinois 16
(16) Eastern Ky 3 FINAL
Florida 52
TX-San Antonio 7 FINAL
Western Ky 45
UCF 53
Tulsa 28 FINAL
Houston 38
Virginia Tech 3 FINAL
Wake Forest 6
Washington St 31 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 52
Louisiana Tech 27 FINAL
Old Dominion 30
Western Mich 32 FINAL
Central Mich 20
New Mexico 20 FINAL
(21) Colorado State 58
Eastern Mich 30 FINAL
Ball State 45
Appalachian St 35 FINAL
Louisiana 16
(12) Arizona 42 FINAL
Utah 10
North Texas 17
(18) Ole Miss 0 FINAL
Arkansas 30
(24) Louisville 31 FINAL
Notre Dame 28
Maryland 23 FINAL
Michigan 16
Texas Tech 34 FINAL
Iowa State 31
(14) Wisconsin 26 FINAL
Iowa 24
Syracuse 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
Boston College 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 20
Georgia State 0 FINAL
(23) Clemson 28
Tulane 6 FINAL
East Carolina 34
Stanford 38 FINAL
California 17
Western Carolina 14 FINAL
(2) Alabama 48
New Mexico St 17
So Florida 20 FINAL
Memphis 31
Colorado 10 FINAL
(3) Oregon 44
Fla Atlantic 34 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 35
Samford 7 FINAL
(15) Auburn 31
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
Virginia 30
Vanderbilt 0 FINAL
(4) Miss State 51
(17) Missouri 29 FINAL
Tennessee 21
Oklahoma State 28 FINAL
(5) Baylor 49
(9) UCLA 38
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
Connecticut 0
(25) Boise State 63 FINAL
Wyoming 14
Oregon State 13 FINAL
Washington 37
Fresno State 40 FINAL
Nevada 20
Hawaii 37
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
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
North Carolina
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Boston College
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Georgia State
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New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
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Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
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(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
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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
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Montreal 24 FINAL
Hamilton 40
Edmonton 18 FINAL
Calgary 43
Grambling 11:00 AM
George Washington
Saint Louis 11:30 AM
NW Nazarene 3:00 PM
Idaho State
Millersville 4:30 PM
Delaware State
NC State 5:00 PM
Harvard 5:00 PM
(3) Notre Dame
Austin Peay 5:00 PM
Brescia 5:00 PM
Morehead St
Bradley 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Mount Ida 6:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
TX A&M-CC 6:00 PM
Cornell 6:00 PM
St Johns 6:00 PM
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
(4) Tennessee
Troy 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Sam Houston St 6:00 PM
South Dakota St
Campbell 6:00 PM
Western Carolina
North Florida 6:00 PM
UNC Greensboro 6:00 PM
Western State 6:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Thomas (GA) 6:00 PM
Georgia State
Loyola-Maryland 6:00 PM
(9) Maryland
Barton 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac 7:00 PM
Holy Cross
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Prairie View 7:00 PM
(5) Texas A&M
Eastern Washington 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
Cal-Irvine 7:00 PM
South Dakota
East Tenn St 7:05 PM
Indiana State
(6) Stanford 8:00 PM
New Mexico
Cal State Fullerton 8:00 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA


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