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.


Vikings' Kyle Rudolph out; David Yankey active vs. Dolphins

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 21st at 11:27am 286497431

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph will be out with an ankle/knee injury against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.

Rudolph has been active just eight times through 15 games. He recovered from sports hernia surgery in November, but Rudolph hasn’t looked the same since he returned. Rhett Ellison will start for Rudolph.

Safety Robert Blanton is active, but he will not start. He was listed as questionable on Friday with an ankle/knee injury. Andrew Sendejo will receive his second straight start at strong safety. Sendejo had a solid game last week against the Lions.

Rookie guard David Yankey will be active for the first time this season. Up until this game, Yankey was the only drafted rookie not to suit up. The Vikings have spent the entire season developing the Stanford product in what would be similar to a “redshirt” season in college.

Here’s the complete inactive list for both the Vikings and Dolphins:

S Ahmad Dixon
CB Shaun Prater
FB Zach Line
LB Anthony Barr
OT Carter Bykowski
OG Charlie Johnson
TE Kyle Rudolph

RB Rishard Matthews
RB Daniel Thomas
S Don Jones
LB Chris McCain
OG Dallas Thomas
OG Nate Garner
WR Matt Hazel

Greenway expected to play after death of his father

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 21st at 10:20am 286496651

Vikings outside linebacker Chad Greenway is expected to play against the Dolphins today, two days after his father, Alan, lost his battle with leukemia.

Greenway was excused from practice Friday to travel back to South Dakota to see his father. His father passed away later that night.

Greenway is with the team here in Miami, and all indications are that he will play.

The nine-year veteran is second on the team with 91 tackles despite missing three games earlier this season due to broken ribs.

Craig: Week 16 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated December 21st at 7:43am 286492921

What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

1. Seahawks (10-4)
Well, it certainly took them long enough to come around to form, but the defending champions are once again looking like the best team in the league. For this week, at least. (See: Patriots, Packers, Broncos, Cardinals …) We know the Seahawks have the QB to get the job done. And tossing Percy overboard hasn’t hurt anything but Percy’s career. But the Seahawks are back on top because of this number: 6.8. That’s the average point total of the opponent during Seattle’s current four-game winning streak.


2. Patriots (11-3); 3. Broncos (11-3); 4. Cardinals (11-3); 5. Cowboys (10-4); 6. Colts (10-4); 7. Lions (10-4); 8. Bills (8-6); 9. Packers (10-4); 10. Steelers (9-5); 11. Bengals (9-4-1); 12. Ravens (9-5); 13. Chargers (9-6); 14. Chiefs (8-6); 15. Saints (6-8); 16. Rams (6-8); 17. Texans (7-7); 18. Dolphins (7-7); 19. Redskins (4-11); 20. Eagles (9-6); 21. Bears (5-9).

22. Vikings 6-8 (Last week: 21):
The Vikings don’t have a signature win. They haven’t beaten a team that currently has a winning record or even a .500 record. But that doesn’t mean coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t have the program heading in the right direction. The defensive schemes are proving to be effective and Norv Turner’s work with rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is paying off. The offense naturally struggled to find an identity after Adrian Peterson was removed from the team. Over time, that identity has become a spread-it-out passing attack with Bridgewater making quick throws to avoid pressure. Last week’s effort in Detroit showed the players believe that the coaches know what they’re doing.

23. Panthers (5-8-1); 24. Giants (5-9); 25. 49ers (7-8); 26. Browns (7-7); 27. Falcons (5-9); 28. Jets (3-11); 29. Jaguars (3-12); 30. Raiders (2-12); 31. Buccaneers (2-12).

32. Titans (2-13)

32: Titans (2-13):
Last week’s Worst of the Bunch just rose up and beat the Eagles. So we shot them up high enough to rank ahead of the Eagles (No. 1 rule in these rankings: You can’t rank higher than a team you just lost to the week before). Looking for a void to fill at the bottom, we invited the Titans to come on down after laying down low enough to lose to the Jaguars on Thursday. Yeah, they tell us there was an NFL game on Thursday. Who knew?


1, Norv Turner and Teddy Bridgewater are developing an offensive identity. Who knows if Adrian Peterson will return next season. With him and Bridgewater together, the Vikings could be something special offensively. Without Peterson, the Vikings struggled to establish an identity. When they realized they couldn’t be a running team and Bridgewater began to get comfortable, Turner started putting in more five-wide, shotgun sets to let Bridgewater make quick decisions and throws to avoid pressure.

2, The defense is playing with a lot of confidence and trust in Zimmer’s schemes and philosophy. When the Vikings led 14-0 last week, the Lions hadn’t even registered a first down.

3, Xavier Rhodes showed last week that he has the makings of a future full-time shutdown corner. Couple that with Harrison Smith at free safety and very good things could happen for this defense.


1, Blair Walsh isn’t a major concern because he has been so consistent over a longer period. But his current funk suggests he’s overthinking things.

2, Lingering knee injuries for young big fellas like Sharrif Floyd tend to be worrisome. This was his chance to step out of Kevin Williams’ shadow. And while Floyd did show flashes of standout play, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Williams rarely missed playing time.

3, As far as today’s game goes, the Vikings again will need to run the ball somewhat effectively to help protect Bridgewater from a strong pass rush on the road. Can the Vikings muster a decent running game without a feature back and a beat-up offensive line?


Vikings plus-6 ½ at Dolphins. The pick: Vikings 27, Dolphins 24.

Why?: The Dolphins are fading fast, having lost two straight and three of their last four. In the past month, they’ve mustered only a three-point win over the Jets. Miami is 3-3 at home, although the Dolphins have had a tough home schedule. This is one of the more up-and-down teams. The Vikings aren’t the better team, but the guess here is they’ll play harder and pull off the upset.

Last week: Vikings plus-7 ½ at Lions. The pick: Lions 21, Vikings 7. The final: Lions 16, Vikings 14. 11-3.


Vikings plus-6 ½ at Dolphins. The pick: Vikings 27, Dolphins 24

Last week: Packers minus-4 ½ at Bills. The pick: Bills 34, Packers 31. The final Bills 21, Packers 13. Record: 5-10.


Chargers plus-1 at 49ers: Chargers by 7

Eagles minus-7 ½ at Redskins: Eagles by 10

Packers minus-10 ½ at Buccaneers: Packers by 14

Lions minus-7 at Bears: Bears by 3

Falcons plus-6 at Saints: Saints by 7

Patriots minus-10 at Jets: Patriots by 17

Chiefs plus-3 at Steelers: Steelers by 7

Browns plus-2 ½ at Panthers: Panthers by 3

Ravens minus-5 ½ at Texans: Ravens by 3

Giants plus-5 at Rams: Giants by 3

Bills minus-5 ½ at Raiders: Raiders by 3

Colts plus-3 at Cowboys: Cowboys by 10

Seahawks minus-8 at Cardinals: Seahawks by 10

Broncos minus-3 at Bengals: Bengals by 3

Record: Last week/overall: 9-6/124-81-1. Versus spread: Last week/overall: 7-8/104-102.

'Very minor' knee surgery ends Barr's season early

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated December 19th at 5:15pm 286385531

Anthony Barr’s season rookie season officially ended Thursday night when he was told he needs what coach Mike Zimmer described as a “very minor procedure” to repair a knee injury that has sidelined him the past two games.

Zimmer wouldn’t reveal the exact nature of the injury, saying only that, “it’s very similar to a slight meniscus tear.

“It should be nothing. It really should be nothing. He’ll be getting going again. He’s a great kid. I don’t think it will be an issue at all.”

Barr said he hurt the knee before the Panthers game on Nov. 30. He left that game because of the injury, but doesn’t think he suffered any further damage by trying to play on it.

“I’ve been trying each week to go out that, but it hasn’t been right,” Barr said. “So it’s time to fix it up. … Nothing is torn.”

Asked to assess his rookie season, the ninth overall draft pick said, “I thought it was decent. I would say it was a B, B-minus. Something like that.”

Asked what improvements he’ll be focusing on after he recovers, Barr said, “We could sit here and talk about that all day. It’s a long list. I just want to get better as a player, as a leader and hopefully make strides for next week.

“I don’t think [surgery] is going to slow me down [for next year]. My season just ended a little earlier than everybody else’s. Just got to continue to improve and I have the whole offseason to do that. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field.”

Zimmer said Barr will have the surgery soon. He’ll continue to sit in on meetings, as he has the past two weeks.

“He’s going to be so much further ahead of where he was when the rookies got here,” Zimmer said. “So I think really the sky is the limit for him.”

Barr was leading the team in tackles with 99 at the time of the injury. He also had four sacks, four tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, including one that he forced and returned for a touchdown to beat the Buccaneers in overtime.

“He played great,” Zimmer said. “He’s a good football player. He’s a good kid who studies hard and does everything right. He’s very conscientious, hard-working, can’t wait, he’s already excited about getting this fixed and getting back to playing.”

Zimmer said the Vikings will decide next week whether to put Barr on injured reserve and use his roster spot to acquire another player for the season finale against the Bears.

Greenway, Barr, Loeffler not at practice; Charlie Johnson there, but not practicing

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated December 19th at 11:38am 286369201

What did we learn at practice a few moments ago? That Audie Cole appears to know how to long snap well enough to get the ball to punter Jeff Locke without drawing too much attention.

Regular long-snapper Cullen Loeffler wasn’t at practice because, like the rest of Minnesota, he’s apparently sick. Presumably, he’ll play on Sunday, but we’ll get the official injury report after practice today.

Meanwhile, Chad Greenway also wasn’t at practice for the portion open to reporters. He hasn’t been on the injury report this week, so we’ll wait until after practice for the reason.

Linebacker Anthony Barr, who has missed the past two games because of a knee injury, wasn’t at practice. Look for him to miss a third straight game.

Left guard Charlie Johnson was at practice, but wasn’t participating.

Two players who hadn’t oracticed all week — tight end Kyle Rudolph and strong safety Robert Blanton — were practicing today.


Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 14 3rd Qtr 7:21
Arizona 3
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 1 2nd Prd 1:32
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 21 2nd Half 11:35
Texas-El Paso 55
Sacramento St 17 2nd Half
Seattle 30
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
CS-Bakersfield 74
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 35 2nd Half 13:32
Old Dominion 39


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