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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NFL on Peterson decision: Stay tuned

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated April 15th at 8:34am 299822751

It’s not like the Vikings have a game this weekend, but NFL fans aren’t a particularly patient pack of people. So Vikings fans probably have today, April 15, written down in big bold letters as potentially a celebratory day.

After all, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, today is the first day that former league MVP Adrian Peterson can be considered for reinstated after his lengthy tussle with the league, the law and the high court of public opinion regarding the injuries he caused while disciplining his 4-year-old son.

So we’ll hear something today, right? Goodell will pull out a roll of industrial strength paper towels and clean this thing up nice and tidy before we head off to work.

Right? Right?! RIGHT!!!!?

Well, maybe not.

As we pointed out in print this morning, the NFL views April 15 as a much softer deadline than the IRS. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello sent this email reminder of Peterson’s vague timetable when asked Tuesday if the league would be removing the former NFL MVP from the commissioner’s exempt list and reinstating him today:

“Here is what we said regarding April 15 when we announced his suspension [last fall]: –

“Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was notified today that he has been suspended without pay for at least the remainder of the 2014 NFL season, and will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15, for violating the NFL Personal Conduct Policy in an incident of abusive discipline that he inflicted on his four-year-old son last May. … “In order to assess your progress going forward, I [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] will establish periodic reviews, the first of which will be on or about April 15, 2015.”

Goodell and Peterson met for three hours last week. Whether it will lead to his reinstatement today, well, stay tuned. And keep in mind that, A, He will be reinstated; and B, the Vikings are off this Sunday.

ESPN analyst rips Peterson's agent for trying to control trade discussion

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated April 14th at 5:27pm 299728531

If a man’s ears do indeed burn when someone not present is talking about him, then Adrian Peterson’s agent probably spent the past hour with his head in a bucket of ice water.

ESPN analyst Bill Polian, the newly-elected Pro Football Hall of Famer and former NFL general manager, just conducted a conference call with reporters. I climbed aboard the runaway NFL draft hype train and asked Polian the following question:

“In a trade scenario, what would you consider Adrian Peterson’s value in terms of draft picks, and would you trade for him on draft night if you hadn’t talked to him or had him take a physical beforehand?”

Polian laughed because apparently he has spent a lot of time barking about this situation and the actions of Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, who hasn’t exactly been Mr. Subtle in expressing how much better off Peterson would be somewhere other than Minnesota, which, by the way, has him under contract for three more years, including a $12.5 million agreement for this season.

“I’ve had a lot to say on this subject on [ESPN's NFL] Insiders,” he said. “Let’s take away the hypotheticals for a moment and say the following: Despite anything his agent may say to the contrary or his, quote, people, whoever they may be or say to the contrary, the following are the facts. He has a valid contract, a multi-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. And if the Minnesota Vikings decide that they want him to play football for them, he will play football for them or play football for no one.

“So I think that is a fact. It’s very clear-cut. It’s black and white, despite any protestations to the contrary. Secondly, if you were to be interested in trading for him, that means that the Vikings control the ability to move him. No one else. So there is no third party interaction here. This is a question of whether or not the Vikings want to trade Adrian Peterson to someone else. So I think those two sets of facts have been lost in all of the noise that surrounds this situation almost since last January.

“The third part of the equation is where does he stand with the league? I presume that question will be answered at some point in the foreseeable future. But it has not been answered yet. And that certainly affects any potential trade. I hasten to add that if the Vikings would be willing to entertain one — and they have said just the opposite, at least from where I can tell recently — trying to determine what’s fair compensation for him in a trade assumes that the Vikings would be willing to enter into such a transaction. Not that someone else decides that it should take place.

“So compensation is [Vikings General Manager] Rick Spielman’s call, and I’m not going to farm his land. The fact of the matter is that he has a very, very fair contract, in my opinion, from his perspective. He’s the highest-paid back in the league, I believe. And he has a multi-year contract. So he would be ostensibly available for three more years if any team ever trades for him. To me, that mitigates whatever his age is. He’s also had a year off, which is probably for a running back a good thing. So the extent that his age is a factor if you were going to move him, I don’t think it is a factor because he’s under club control for the next three years.

“Could you make a trade for anybody on the clock? Of course you can. But the question of whether or not that player will report is another issue. And that’s unknowable at this time. I would be, as a general manager, I would be very wary given what’s gone on up to this point that he would report and honor that contract. I would have concerns about that if I were trying to make a trade.”

NFL Draft Truth or Hype: DE/OLB Randy Gregory

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated April 14th at 1:25pm 299711111

Our first defensive player we’ll examine is Nebraska defensive end/outside linebacker Randy Gregory. For some, he’s known as the guy that tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine in February. For Gophers fans, Gregory is the guy that couldn’t shed a blocker against the run (more on that later).

There’s a few players like Gregory in this draft that can be projected as a defensive end or an outside linebacker depending on the scheme. The list includes Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr., Missouri’s Shane Ray and Kentucky’s Alvin Dupree. But we’ll focus on Gregory for now since he’s been the most talked about prospect among the bunch, for better or for worse.

Gregory spent a season at Arizona Western Community College before transferring to Nebraska. Gregory initially signed with Purdue out of college but didn’t qualify academically.

By the Numbers:

Sophomore (13 games): 66 tackles (40 solo), 17 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, one interception, one forcedfumble

Junior (11 games): 54 tackles (23 solo), 8.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, one interception, one forced fumble

Gregory returned his only interception his junior season for a touchdown and also had a pair of blocked field goals as a senior. On paper, the stats look great for a Big Ten defensive end. Gregory displayed a little bit of everything at 6-5 and 235 pounds. As raw as he is, he has a knack for getting at the quarterback.

Combine/Pro Day results:

40-yard dash: 4.64 seconds

Bench press (225 pounds):  24 reps

Vertical: 36.5 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches

Gregory was happy enough with his combine results that he only participated during individual drills at his pro day. He ran a similar 40-yard dash time at the combine as Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson, listed at six feet and 228 pounds.

But back to the marijuana issue, however, that has clouded Gregory’s stock since the combine. It appears a few people have docked him for it, and it was a very dumb mistake, but I might be in the minority that won’t drop a prospect off a big board in 2015 for marijuana. Reports that he wasn’t impressive during team interviews would be a bigger concern in my book if I was reviewing Gregory from an off-the-field perspective.

This tweet is also concerning. Can you trust a man that thinks New Orleans is boring?

The Film

I will pass on Gregory’s ability as a defensive end, however. He’s not an NFL defensive end. At 235 pounds, he’ll need to gain weight if he wants to become a 4-3 defensive end. The biggest question is how will he move at 250-plus pounds? I’m not sure but Gregory’s range at his current weight is one of his biggest strengths.

As a defensive end with his hand in the dirt, Gregory would give me anxiety as a defensive coordinator against the run. He struggled on run plays because Big Ten offensive linemen could shove Gregory out of the way with ease. Gregory at times would be so focused on pass rushing that he’d run himself of plays, similar to what we used to see from Jared Allen during his final season with the Vikings. He’s still young and raw though, so I’d think that’s correctable at this stage in his career.

The two games that stood out last year watching Gregory against the run were Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here’s a good example of what I mean against Wisconsin. He’s lined up on the left side, couldn’t contain and running back Melvin Gordon escaped for a big gain.

 

On the flip side, Gregory is a good pass rusher pretty much anywhere you put him. He could use improvement blitzing as a linebacker, but he has a good variety of moves. Gregory’s performance against Miami is a great example of what he’s capable of doing as a pass rusher. Here’s a rep against offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, projected as a first or second round pick, where Gregory bull rushes to the quarterback on the right side. Flowers weighed in at 329 pounds at the combine, almost 100 pounds more than Gregory.

 

There aren’t too many examples of Gregory dropping back into coverage that I’ve seen, but he has the speed and range to cover tight ends and running backs. It’ll likely become an area of emphasis to improve in coverage wherever he goes because I don’t see him being used more at defensive end than linebacker to start his NFL career. I can see how in certain situations, like Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr on third downs, a team could use him on the defensive line to maximize its pass rush.

Similar to Barr, Gregory should pray that he lands on a team with a defensive-minded head coach or an excellent defensive coordinator that will develop his raw ability. But he’s an outside linebacker. And anyone who tells you otherwise at this stage in his career is wrong.

Verdict: As a defensive end, don’t believe the hype. As a linebacker, he can be the truth if he’s got a solid coach to develop him.

NFL Draft Truth or Hype: WR Breshad Perriman

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated April 13th at 7:39pm 299557431

We’ll take a daily look at some of the most talked about prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft and tell you whether they’re worth the hype or not.

We start this series with a prospect that many didn’t know about until his pro day, Central Florida wide receiver Breshad Perriman. If you did know him before his pro day, it was likely due to a Hail Mary catch he made to defeat East Carolina last year.

 

If you knew Perriman before that, it was likely due to the attention Central Florida received two years ago during their Fiesta Bowl run with Blake Bortles at quarterback. If you knew him before that, then you watch a lot of American Athletic Conference football or must be a Central Florida fan.

He’s also the son of Brett Perriman, who was drafted in the second round in 1988 and spent 10 seasons in the NFL.

By the Numbers:

Freshman (14 games): 26 receptions, 388 yards, three touchdowns

Sophomore (12 games): 39 receptions, 811 yards, four touchdowns

Junior (13 games): 50 receptions, 1,044 yards, nine touchdowns

That would be an average of 20 yards per catch in both his sophomore and junior seasons. While he was without Bortles, who went to the NFL last year, Perriman became the first receiver in school history with 1,000 yards since 2006 as a junior. He’s clearly a big play threat with good size at 6-2 and 212 pounds.

Combine/Pro Day results:

40-yard dash: 4.24 and 4.27 seconds

Bench press (225 pounds): 18 reps

Vertical: 36 ½ inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 7 inches

Perriman had the most talked about pro day this year. His name blew up last month due to a reported 4.24 and 4.27 40-yard dash times. That would’ve tied running back Chris Johnson’s 4.24 as the fastest combine 40-yard dash time. Speed kills, guys.

The Film
Bad hands are a killer, too. Look, you didn’t need to see Perriman in tights and a compression shirt to see that he’s fast. On go routes, he was consistently on top of the defender, even if his tape was mainly against AAC opponents. He can fly down the field, but he has a tough time catching the ball.

Per Pro Football Focus, Perriman had a 14 percent drop rate. That’s my problem with the draft evaluation process and draft analysts. You raise a player from a Day 2 pick into the first round, and in ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s case in the top 10 of your latest mock draft, because he ran fast at his pro day. But how much are you docking for all those drops, you know the most important element of playing wide receiver?

 

The concerning part is that Perriman is open on these drops. If he’s struggling with that against mainly AAC talent, how will fare with a NFL cornerback all over him? It doesn’t mean anything if you can burn by a cornerback but can’t catch the ball. This sounds so obvious but yet it gets overlooked somehow.

Perriman is like a few other big name receivers in the draft, like West Virginia’s Kevin White and Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong, that has raw ability and will need to improve significantly as a route runner. Perriman might be a one-trick pony during his first season as he attempts to put it all together in the NFL but his inconsistency is a red flag for me.

If a team seeks a deep threat in this draft, I’d take Ohio State’s Devin Smith over Perriman. Smith is quick with good hands and does a great job locating the ball in the air on deep passes. While Kiper thinks of him as a top 10 player currently, he’s not a top five wide receiver in this draft in my book. There’s some other solid receivers in this draft to take such a gamble on Perriman, especially if he does actually fall in the first round.

But, hey, speed kills right?

Verdict: Don’t believe the hype.

CB Price has charge reduced to careless driving

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 10th at 9:55pm 299345691

Cornerback Jabari Price, who was arrested for suspicion of driving while impaired in the hours after the regular-season finale in December, had his charge reduced to careless driving Wednesday.

During a court appearance, Price agreed to do 30 days of electronic home monitoring, according to his attorney, David Valentini. Price, who passed all drug tests leading up to the court date, has also entered into a substance abuse education program and paid a $300 fine, Valentini said.

In the early hours of Dec. 29, a state trooper observed Price speeding while driving southbound on Interstate 35W and pulled Price over. The trooper “detected impairment in the driver,” according to the incident report, and administered a breathalyzer test. Price had a blood alcohol level of 0.13 percent, was arrested on suspicion of DWI at the scene and booked in Hennepin County jail.

While the 22-year-old was able to get the charge reduced to careless driving Wednesday, he is still subject to the NFL’s personal conduct policy and could face a fine or a suspension from the league.

Price, a Florida native who played college football at North Carolina, was a seventh-round pick last May. Price played 14 games for the Vikings as a rookie. He was mostly used on special teams but also played 46 defensive snaps as a reserve. He had 10 tackles in his first season.

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Chicago WSox - LP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Soria 2
San Diego - WP: J. Shields 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: B. Schlitter 4
Philadelphia - LP: S. O Sullivan 2 FINAL
Washington - WP: M. Scherzer 7
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 6
Atlanta - WP: C. Martin 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Cecil 7
Miami - LP: B. Hand 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 4
Baltimore - LP: B. Matusz 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: K. Uehara 3
NY Yankees - WP: D. Betances 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Jepsen 4
LA Angels - WP: C. Ramos 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 3
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 2 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: B. Boyer 3
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 4 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Wacha 6
Colorado - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 7
Texas - WP: Y. Gallardo 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: J. Happ 1
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 9 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 0
Ottawa 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 6
Calgary 1 FINAL
Vancouver 4
San Jose 0 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2

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