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.


Matt Cassel (toe) out, Teddy Bridgewater makes debut

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 21st at 2:06pm 275935951

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel has been ruled out with a toe injury he suffered in the second quarter. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater replaced Cassel with 12:15 left in the first half.

The injury occurred on a five-yard scramble with 14:47 left in the first half where Cassel was slow to get up. He was later carted into the locker room. Cassel finished the game 5 of 10 for 53 yards.

Bridgewater went 3 of 5 for 46 yards in the first half, leading the Vikings to a field goal on his first drive. Most of his yards in the first half came on a 41-yard dump off to running back Matt Asiata to put the Vikings in field goal range. Bridgewater also had five rushes for 23 yards.

Halftime report: Saints 13, Vikings 6

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 21st at 2:32pm 275935241

The Saints lead the Vikings 13-6 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at halftime. Quarterback Matt Cassel has been ruled out with a toe injury he suffered in the second quarter.

The Good: Somehow it’s a close game. After the Saints jumped out to a 13-0 start, it appeared the game would get ugly in a hurry. But the Vikings held the Saints offense scoreless in the second quarter and hit two field goals to draw within a possession.

It was also the NFL debut of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who replaced Cassel in the second quarter. The toe injury occurred on a five yard scramble with 14:47 left in the first half. Bridgewater led the Vikings to a field goal on his opening drive due to a 41-yard dump off to running back Matt Asiata.

Cassel finished 5 of 10 for 53 yards. Bridgewater is 3 of 5 for 46 yards.

The Bad: Saints quarterback Drew Brees had about as perfect of a first half as you’ll see from a quarterback. He’s picked apart the Vikings secondary, going 12 of 14 for 123 yards and a touchdown. He executed an 11-play, 80-yard drive to start the game that lasted 5:24. The Vikings allowed seven first downs on the drive as the Saints gained positive yardage on every play. The Vikings contained the offense in the second quarter, but they started in a huge deficit because of Brees.

The Ugly: The Vikings defensive line has improved as the game progressed, but the offensive line has been terrible in pass protection. Regardless of who has been at quarterback, Bridgewater and Cassel haven’t benefited from a clean pocket with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan dialing up different blitzes. On Bridgewater’s first drive, the Vikings settled for a field goal mainly due to Bridgewater tripping over left tackle Matt Kalil on 1st and goal. While it might be the only sack the Vikings have allowed so far, the Saints have been getting a lot of hurries and hits on the Vikings quarterbacks.

Greenway active versus Saints despite broken hand

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 21st at 12:03pm 275929741

Vikings outside linebacker Chad Greenway is active for today’s game against the New Orleans Saints despite a broken left hand and a rib injury that prevented him from practicing Wednesday and Thursday. That means Greenway will keep his consecutive games played streak alive.

Wide receiver Charles Johnson, who was signed to the 53-man roster yesterday, will not suit up.

Also inactive are quarterback Christian Ponder, cornerback Shaun Prater, outside linebacker Brandon Watts, guard David Yankey, wide receiver Rodney Smith and defensive end Scott Crichton.

Running back Mark Ingram and linebacker David Hawthorne are among the notable inactives for the Saints. Also inactive are safety Marcus Ball, fullback Erik Lorig, cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, wide receiver Nick Toon and defensive tackle John Jenkins.

Craig: Week 3 NFL Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated September 21st at 8:42am 275925821

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. Broncos (2-0)
Like we said last week, Seattle was so clearly the best team in the league, it was bound to lose at San Diego. That’s how this league rolls. And that’s what happened. We’d take any one of our top seven teams as the best team in the league, at least for this week. Right now, it’s Denver, but that could and probably will change after the Broncos’ trip to Seattle today.


2. Eagles (2-0); 3. Cardinals (2-0); 4. Chargers (1-1); 5. Seahawks (1-1); 6. Bengals (2-0); 7. Falcons (2-1); 8. Packers (1-1); 9. Bills (2-0); 10. Dolphins (1-1); 11. Patriots (1-1); 12. Panthers (2-0); 13. Bears (1-1); 14. 49ers (1-1); 15. Texans (2-0); 16. Jets (1-1); 17. Ravens (1-1); 18. Cowboys (1-1); 19. Titans (1-1); 20. Steelers (1-1); 21. Browns (1-1); 22. Saints (0-2).

23. Vikings 1-1 (Last week: 15):
Last week’s 30-7 loss didn’t prove that the Vikings can’t win without Adrian Peterson. But it did prove that they can’t win without him while they’re turning the ball over four times and giving up blocked field goals that are returned for touchdowns. The defense played fairly well, but didn’t make any plays on short fields, which added to the blowout.

24. Lions (1-1); 25. Redskins (1-1); 26. Colts (0-2); 27. Rams (1-1); 28. Jaguars (0-2); 29. Chiefs (0-2); 30. Raiders (0-2); 31. Giants (0-2).

32: Buccaneers (0-3):
Well, we had the Rams down as the worst team in the league a week ago. But the Bucs made one heck of a case to change that by A, losing at home to the Rams in Austin Davis’ NFL starting debut; and B, Getting humiliated 56-14 at Atlanta on Thursday.


1, The Saints’ running game will be without Mark Ingram. A week ago, the Vikings couldn’t shake the Patriots out of a game plan designed to run the ball and throw quick passes from short drops on manageable downs and distances.

2, The return of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer should guarantee that there won’t be a special teams snap that comes with only nine Vikings players.

3, Quarterback Matt Cassel is an up-and-down quarterback. He was as down as down can be a week ago. He should be more likely to protect the ball better this week.


1, A 2.8-yard average per carry without Peterson a week ago wasn’t a good sign for the future.

2, The game is in New Orleans, it’s the home opener and, oh yeah, the Saints are winless and in desperate need of a victory.

3, Last week’s inability to stop the run made it so much more difficult for coach Mike Zimmer’s creative defense to be effective with pressure and takeaways on third downs.


Vikings plus-10 at Saints. The pick: Saints 28, Vikings 21.

Every sign there is points to a lopsided Saints victory. After initially picking 35-17, we’ll dial it back to a close contest in which the Saints fail to cover. In the NFL, it’s always dangerous to pick a team when EVERY sign points to them having a fairly easy day.

Last week: Patriots minus-3 at Vikings. The pick: Patriots 21, Vikings 17. The final: Patriots 30, Vikings 7. Record: 1-1.


Ravens minus-1 ½ at Browns. The pick: Browns 24, Ravens 21

Why: If the Browns were able to pressure Drew Brees in a big upset at home last week, they should be able to put some heat on Joe Flacco in what wouldn’t be nearly as big of an upset at home today. Last week: Jaguars plus-6 at Redskins: The pick: Jaguars 24, Redskins 23. The final: Redskins 41, Jaguars 10. Record: 0-2.

Chargers plus-2 at Bills: Chargers by 3

Cowboys minus-1 at Rams: Cowboys by 7

Redskins plus-6 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 3

Texans minus-2 ½ at Giants: Giants by 3

Titans plus-7 at Bengals: Bengals by 3

Packers plus-2 ½ at Lions: Lions by 3

Colts minus-7 at Jaguars: Colts by 3

Raiders plus-14 at Patriots: Patriots by 7

Steelers plus-3 ½ at Panthers: Steelers by 3

49ers minus-3 at Cardinals: Cardinals by 7

Broncos plus-5 at Seahawks: Seahawks by 7

Chiefs plus-4 at Dolphins: Dolphins by 7

Bears plus-2 ½ at Jets: Jets by 3

Record: Last week/overall: 6-9/12-18. Versus spread: Last week/overall: 5-10/9-21.

Vikings sign WR Johnson to their 53-man roster

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 20th at 3:11pm 275885521

The Vikings have filled the vacant spot on the 53-man roster created when running back Adrian Peterson was placed on the exempt list. They did so by signing wide receiver Charles Johnson — not to be confused with starting left guard Charlie Johnson — from the Browns’ practice squad.

The team had a need for a wide receiver after letting suspended wide-out Jerome Simpson go.

Johnson, who is in his second year in the league, played his college ball at Grand Valley State. He was drafted by the Packers in the seventh round in 2013 and was on Green Bay’s practice squad last season when Cleveland signed him to its active roster. He did not play in a NFL game, though.

He spent all of training camp and the 2014 preseason with the Browns, who, as you probably remember, employed Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner in the same capacity last season.

The new guy will wear No. 12.


Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Baltimore - W. Chen 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Kansas City - D. Duffy 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
Seattle - J. Paxton 6:07 PM
Toronto - J. Happ
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 6:08 PM
Detroit - K. Lobstein
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Ottawa 12:30 PM
NY Islanders
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
Minnesota 7:00 PM
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado 9:00 PM
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35


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