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.
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson is back at Winter Park today after traveling to New York with his lawyer, David Valentini, for a Monday disciplinary hearing to appeal a three-game NFL suspension stemming from a DWI arrest last year. Simpson believes the hearing “went great.”
“I just told them the truth, told them the truth,” the 28-year-old said. “The records and the facts show what happened.”
Asked what he thought his suspension should be reduced to, Simpson replied, “I don’t know. That’s up to the discretion of them.”
Simpson avoided jail time in January after pleading guilty to careless driving and third-degree DWI from a Nov. 9 arrest. He was placed on one-year probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service in public schools.
The Vikings, aware of a possible suspension, re-signed Simpson to a one-year deal this offseason.
It was the second suspension for Simpson, who was banned three games by the NFL after a drug arrest in September 2011. Simpson was indicted on a felony drug-trafficking change, but later plead to a lesser felony charge of “being involved in a prohibited act relating to controlled substances.” He was sentenced in Kentucky to 15 days in jail in April 2012.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said this morning that the Vikings will be prepared if Simpson’s suspension is upheld, saying that the team has contingency plans in place for a variety of situations.
“You have to have a varied plan,” he said. “Unfortunately in this game, guys miss [games] — whether it’s a case when a guy misses because off an off-the-field thing or we could be in the opening game and someone we’re counting on to play a big role sprains his ankle on the third play. And we have to plan to go play and do the things we want to do. We have plans and there are certain plays that Simp is really good on. There’s other guys that have to fill in if he’s not in for that play.”
Turner believes the Vikings have other viable deep threats, including Greg Jennings, to fill the void.
Meanwhile, Simpson made it clear that will accept the league’s final decision and move forward.
“I’m just ready to get it behind me,” he said.
Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— K Blair Walsh continues to struggle from way downtown.
— Matt Cassel will again start at quarterback Saturday night.
— WR Jerome Simpson missed practice to appeal his suspension.
— DE Brian Robison thinks rookie OLB Anthony Barr will be a force.
— The Vikings made a move, claiming a linebacker off waivers.
TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY
Zimmer asked about Blanton, Josh Robinson availability. Zimmer said Banton might practice today. “The other guy, who knows,” Zimmer said.
— chipscoggins (@chipscoggins) August 18, 2014
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
— The Bears signed KR/PR Darius Reynaud.
— Packers rookie WR Davante Adams has been impressive.
— The Lions finally have some depth at wide receiver.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
The Vikings have a walkthrough in the morning and practice at 12:50 p.m. at Winter Park. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is scheduled to speak with the media in between the two.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
The Cardinals don’t exactly have the best offensive line in the NFL, but Everson Griffen had an impressive pass-rushing performance over the weekend. While Griffen is still looking for his first preseason snap, he had three quarterback hits and two hurries in 18 snaps as a pass-rusher. The Vikings are paying him big bucks for sacks, of course, but those numbers suggest they will come.
If the first half of Saturday night’s preseason game wasn’t enough to prove the Kyle Rudolph is one tough dude to cover, Monday’s practice at Winter Park was another convincing argument.
SETTING THE SCENE: Today’s practice seemed flatter as the as the Vikings returned to Winter Park, where the final two weeks of training camp isn’t open to the public. At one point, the offense was moving so slowly that offensive coordinator Norv Turner reminded the players that the particular segment wasn’t designed to be run at three-quarters speed.
YOUR DAILY QUARTERBACK SMORGASBORD: Veteran Matt Cassel’s comfortable, if not insurmountable, lead over rookie Teddy Bridgewater continues to be obvious based on practice reps. Cassel took all of the first-team reps, while Bridgewater ran the second unit. The third unit didn’t see any reps during 11 on 11 segments of practice.
During the first team competition, Cassel went 4 of 5 with a couple of particularly accurate throws that Rudolph caught softly in tight coverage. Bridgewater also went 4 of 5.
In the second team competition, both went 2 of 3. Again, Cassel and Rudolph were too tough to beat on a completion over the middle.
WRIGHT HOBBLED: Bridgewater’s worst throw of the day was a misfire to Jarius Wright, who was surrounded by four defenders. Wright sprained an ankle and didn’t return.
RUDOLPH A TOUGH MATCHUP: As we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, Rudolph is a tough matchup for a defense. The Cardinals got a look at the leaner, faster version of Rudolph on Saturday. The result was a four-catch first half that produced 89 yards, including a 51-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
Today, strong safety Chris Crocker had tight coverage on Rudolph on two occasions when it didn’t matter. On a crossing route, Cassel hit the window and Rudolph grabbed the ball as Crocker dived and was left behind. Crocker also couldn’t stop a short out pass despite having good position. Later, while going against the second unit, Rudolph was covered by a linebacker, Michael Mauti. He was fairly tight in coverage, but again, Rudolph caught an accurate ball in stride as Mauti tumbled.
NOISE MAKER: Unlike a lot of coaches, Mike Zimmer said he doesn’t place any more significance on the third preseason game. For a lot of coaches, the third preseason game is the only one they game plan for. They also play their starters into the third quarter. Zimmer said his routine this week “is still about us,” still about focusing on installing the new schemes. He said the coaches aren’t doing any in-depth game-planning for Saturday night’s game in Kansas City. But one thing was different today. As the Vikings prepare to play their first road preseason game of the year, Zimmer had a big speaker on the sideline to blare simulated crowd noise.
INJURY UPDATE: Other than Wright, no other players appeared to be injured while participating in practice today. We updated the other injuries on the blog earlier in the day. Matt Vensel also updated the excused absences of defensive end Brian Robison and receiver Jerome Simpson.
Ten Vikings players were not present or participating in this afternoon’s practice.
One of them was defensive end Brian Robison, who was excused for personal reasons.
Another was linebacker Dom DeCicco, who was placed on waivers with an injured designation. If he clears waivers tomorrow, he will revert to injured reserve. DeCicco had hip surgery last week.
In a corresponding roster move, the Vikings claimed rookie linebacker Justin Jackson off waivers from the Lions. Jackson played his college ball at Wake Forest, where he recorded 193 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles in 36 games. He is listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds.
The other players who did not practice today are CB Jabari Price (arm/shoulder), CB Shaun Prater (concussion), CB Josh Robinson (hamstring), LB Brandon Watts (undisclosed), LB Gerald Hodges (knee), NT Linval Joseph (calf), WR Jerome Simpson (undisclosed), and TE Chase Ford (foot).
In other injury news, wide receiver Jarius Wright injured his left ankle while attempting to make a catch late in practice. His left ankle was taped up by an athletic trainer and he did not return.
|Texas - N. Martinez||11:40 AM|
|Miami - N. Eovaldi|
|Seattle - J. Paxton||12:05 PM|
|Philadelphia - C. Hamels|
|Toronto - R. Dickey||1:10 PM|
|Milwaukee - J. Nelson|
|NY Mets - Z. Wheeler||2:35 PM|
|Oakland - J. Samardzija|
|Atlanta - A. Wood||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - G. Cole|
|Houston - S. Feldman||6:05 PM|
|NY Yankees - M. Pineda|
|Arizona - T. Cahill||6:05 PM|
|Washington - T. Roark|
|LA Angels - G. Richards||6:10 PM|
|Boston - C. Buchholz|
|Detroit - R. Porcello||6:10 PM|
|Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi|
|Cincinnati - J. Cueto||6:15 PM|
|St. Louis - L. Lynn|
|San Francisco - J. Peavy||7:05 PM|
|Chicago Cubs - E. Jackson|
|Baltimore - W. Chen||7:10 PM|
|Chicago WSox - H. Noesi|
|Cleveland - T. House||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - R. Nolasco|
|Kansas City - D. Duffy||7:40 PM|
|Colorado - J. De La Rosa|
|San Diego - E. Stults||9:10 PM|
|Los Angeles - R. Hernandez|
|Pittsburgh||8/21/14 6:30 PM|
|Carolina||8/22/14 6:30 PM|
|NY Giants||8/22/14 6:30 PM|
|Jacksonville||8/22/14 6:30 PM|
|Oakland||8/22/14 7:00 PM|
|Chicago||8/22/14 9:00 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|
|Los Angeles||8:00 PM|
|San Jose||9:00 PM|
|Montreal||8/22/14 7:30 PM|
|Toronto||8/23/14 3:00 PM|
|Calgary||8/24/14 2:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||8/24/14 6:00 PM|