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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Report: Vikings exec, Peterson exec had verbal spat

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated February 23rd at 6:34pm 293719001

CBS Sports is reporting that Ben Dogra, the agent for suspended and disgruntled Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, and Rob Brzezinski, Vikings vice president of football operations, got into a “heated verbal altercation” about Peterson at the scouting combine and had to be separated.

According to the CBS report, Dogra also “made it clear that Peterson would never play there again.”

If the report has merit, it would be the latest twist in the Peterson saga, which has quickly turned ugly. The Vikings have praised Peterson in the media in recent weeks, saying they would like him to play for the team this season. But on Thursday, Peterson told ESPN he is uneasy about a return.

NFL teams routinely use the scouting combine to touch base with agents about their players, whether they are soon-to-be free agents, players with tricky contract situations or just players they want to check in on. While the Vikings are allowed only limited communication with Peterson through their legal team while he is suspended, they are allowed to speak with his agent. Brzezinski is the team’s lead contract negotiator.

The report did not say what specifically led to Brzezinski’s blow-up with Dogra.

The Vikings are declining comment.

The Vikings were checking out running backs at the combine over the weekend in the event that they will be without Peterson’s services going forward. He is eligible to be reinstated on April 15.

If Peterson isn’t reinstated until then, more than a month after the start of free agency, most of the NFL’s free-agent money will have been spent, giving more leverage to the Vikings if they do request that he take a pay cut to reduce his restrictive $12.75 million base salary and $15.4 million cap hit for 2015.

Given his age, contract and recent legal woes, Peterson might not have much trade value if he is requesting one, though it is expected that teams would show interest were he to become available.

Off the Board: Reacting to a first-round run on receivers

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated February 23rd at 11:24am 293679441

Some see mock drafts as pure entertainment. Others see them as completely pointless. But while even some of the best draft analysts are throwing darts when it comes to projecting how the first round of the NFL draft will play out, these mock drafts can serve a purpose, even to NFL teams.

In the days leading up to the draft, after their draft boards have pretty much been set in stone, most teams, including the Vikings, do their own mock draft exercises to make sure they are prepared for the twists and turns of the draft, especially the first round, which is the best show on television.

So in the spirt of that, between now and April’s draft we will participate in an exercise I’ve dubbed “Off the Board,” in which we theorize about how the Vikings might proceed with their 11th overall pick based on the draft-night drama that unfolds in front of them. I’ll come up with a new scenario every couple of weeks. Remember, this is more about the draft process than the actual picks.

For the debut installment of “Off the Board,” let’s explore the scenario of what might happen if each of the top three wide receivers go in the top 10 picks, a very real possibility after Kevin White and Amari Cooper blew up the combine and DeVante Parker did nothing to drop his stock with a solid showing himself. Barring an unexpected off-the-field incident or a fluke injury before draft, I think it’s safe to say that White and Cooper will be long gone by the 11th pick, and Parker could, too.

I’m not saying the Vikings definitely want to get Teddy Bridgewater a receiver, but it’s a definite need. So what might they do if the top three guys are all gone? Let’s start mocking and take a guess.

1. Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. Winston came off as a little cocky during his Q&A with media on Friday, but I personally had no problem with that. His interviews with teams were infinitely more important due to his off-the-field issues, and Winston reportedly made favorable impressions there. As for his on-field performance, Winston opted to throw and did not disappoint.

2. Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon. Mariota also gets points for throwing at the combine instead of waiting until his pro day. He, too, was sharp and also showed off his speed in testing. I could see the Titans taking a front-seven defender as they continue to switch to a 3-4, but in the end, I think they will end up taking whichever quarterback the Buccaneers don’t pick or auction this pick off.

3. Jaguars: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia. The Jaguars have some good young wide-outs in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marquise Lee, but none of them profile as a true No. 1. White, who ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at 6-foot-3, would give strong-armed quarterback Blake Bortles a big-play threat.

4. Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama. Welp, there goes another wide receiver. Cooper fared well in the 40-yard dash, but his performance in receiver drills impressed more. A smooth route-runner, Cooper has been compared to Reggie Wayne. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr would like this pick.

5. Redskins: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida. Fowler backed up his explosive game tape with a nice week in Indy. The Redskins will need another edge defender if/when they let Brian Orakpo walk.

6. Jets: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska. Gregory is a tweener type being projected to go in the top 10 or so picks. Maybe the Jets prefer a different edge defender, but we’ll drop Gregory here.

7. Bears: Leonard Williams, DE, USC. This big end could very well end up being the first defender selected. The Bears, who are switching to a 3-4 defense under John Fox, could get a perfect fit.

8. Falcons: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri. I can see new Falcons coach Dan Quinn, a defensive guy, drafting an impact defender with his first pick, like Mike Zimmer did with Anthony Barr a year ago.

9. Giants: Erik Armstead, DE, Oregon. A tricky projection. The Giants may select another offensive lineman here. But they often target defensive linemen early, and Jason Pierre-Paul is a free agent.

10. Rams: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville. There goes the third receiver. They claim they’re keeping Sam Bradford, so let’s give him another target. Somewhere Teddy Bridgewater frowns.

11. Vikings: Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa. In this scenario, the top-tier receivers are gone, and taking, say, Dorial Green-Beckham, might be a reach. It might also be too early to select a cornerback or an outside linebacker like Shaq Thompson, so a trade-down might be an option. But if the Vikings stay put in this scenario, they would be able to get their hands on their favorite offensive lineman. I don’t know right now if that’s Scherff or someone else. But his ability to play either guard or tackle should appeal to the Vikings, who need reinforcements at both positions after the line struggled in 2014.

OK, your turn. Leave a comment to tell me who you would want the Vikings to pick in this scenario.

Vikings sign CFL LB Brian Peters

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated February 23rd at 10:12am 293677371

The Vikings signed linebacker Brian Peters from the Canadian Football League on Monday. Peters spent the last two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, leading the team with 78 tackles last year. The 26-year-old also had three sacks, two interceptions and one defensive touchdown.

Peters is listed at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds and played safety while at Northwestern. He’s the 11th linebacker on the Vikings roster, though Jasper Brinkley and Dom DeCicco are slated to become free agents in March. It’s a position that head coach Mike Zimmer said is thin in the draft and free agency.

Peters is the second player the Vikings have signed from the CFL this offseason. The team signed cornerback Jalil Carter to a reserve/future deal on Jan. 15. The Vikings also added defensive end Leon Mackey from the Arena Football League last month on a reserve/future deal.

Versatile Shaq Thompson could be a Vikings fit -- somewhere

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated February 23rd at 7:28am 293434661

INDIANAPOLIS —- On Thursday morning, head coach Mike Zimmer talked about figuring out what your players do best and putting them in a situation to thrive. He also mentioned the importance of versatility, like linebackers who can be sub-package defenders and dual-role defensive backs.

Maybe he had Washington linebacker/safety/running back Shaq Thompson on his mind. Maybe he didn’t. But no player at the combine personifies versatility like the Huskies’ Swiss Army knife.

Most teams see him as a linebacker, and Thompson made it clear yesterday that he is not going to be a running back. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock projects him as a safety and some teams probably do, too. Whoever picks Thompson will get to decide what he is, but he prefers to be a linebacker.

“That’s where I feel the most comfortable,” Thompson said yesterday. “I like to be up by the line of scrimmage. I feel like I’m physical enough. I’m not the biggest guy, but I have a lot of heart.”

In 2014, his junior year, he made 81 tackles for the Huskies. He forced two fumbles and picked off a pass. He was a terror on special teams. And he averaged 7.5 yards per carry as a part-time back.

Whatever he is, the Vikings have some interest. He met with Zimmer this week at the combine.

Outside linebacker isn’t a pressing need for the Vikings. They used their first-round pick last year on Anthony Barr. Gerald Hodges and Audie Cole impressed while filling in when Chad Greenway missed four games due to a couple of injuries. They also like 2014 late-round pick Brandon Watts.

But with Greenway possibly on the chopping block due to his age and $7.1 million salary and with Zimmer looking for more defensive playmakers, Thompson could be a first-round fit for the Vikings.

In theory, Thompson could play in Greenway’s old spot in the base defense, and his athleticism and skill set could allow him to be used in sub packages and make plays as a hybrid linebacker/safety.

“Even if a guy is better than me, I’m not going to think he’s better than me,” he said of playing in space. “My confidence is going to be high. I’m going to feel I can guard him. I’ll never be on the field thinking somebody’s better than me even if they are. That’s the mindset you have to have.”

We have a long way to go until the draft, but Thompson is a guy you should probably keep tabs on.

White, other wide-outs fly in today's 40-yard dash

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated February 21st at 7:04pm 293251131

INDIANAPOLIS —- The most-anticipated numbers of the NFL’s annual scouting combine are in.

No combine drill generates more buzz than the 40-yard dash, especially when it comes to the wide receivers. The running backs are sprinting on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium as I type this and the cornerbacks run tomorrow. But wide receivers! Flash! Flamboyance! This gets everyone’s attention.

That includes the Vikings, who have a need at wide receiver and might even select one 11th overall.

The top three receiver prospects in this class all helped themselves today by running the 40-yard dash in under 4.5 seconds. West Virginia’s Kevin White ran a blazing 4.35 at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. Alabama’s Amari Cooper ran a 4.42. And Louisville’s DeVante Parker clocked in at 4.45.

My knee-jerk reaction: It’s safe to say Cooper and White will be long gone by the Vikings’ first pick.

Other noteworthy 40 times include Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham, who looked like a stud while running it in 4.49 seconds at 6-foot-5. And Michigan’s Devin Funchess was a dud, ranking dead last among the receivers at 4.70 seconds. That reinforces the notion that Funchess will be considered a move tight end and not a wide-out, though Jimmy Graham is proof that a job title can be irrelevant.

Unofficially, 20 wide receivers ran the 40-yard dash in under 4.5 seconds today. So there’s a lot of speed in this draft. Here are the top 10 times at the position, led by one of the best in recent history.

1. J.J. Nelson, UAB, 4.29 seconds

2. Phillip Dorsett, Miami, 4.33

3(t). Chris Conley, Georgia, 4.35

3(t). Tyler Lockett, Kansas State, 4.35

3(t). Kevin White, West Virginia, 4.35

6. Kenny Bell, Nebraska, 4.40

7. Tre McBride, William & Mary, 4.41

8(t). Amari Cooper, Alabama, 4.42

8(t). Devin Smith, Ohio State, 4.42

10(t). Mario Alford, West Virginia, 4.43

10(t). Sammie Coates, Auburn, 4.43

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Golden State 99 FINAL
Cleveland 110
Oklahoma City 13 1st Qtr 0:05
Phoenix 25
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Arizona 3 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Montreal 5 FINAL
Columbus 2
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Toronto 3
Chicago 3 FINAL
Florida 0
St. Louis 2 FINAL(SO)
Winnipeg 1
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Nashville 2
Ottawa 0 1st Prd :16
Los Angeles 0
Detroit 0 2nd Prd
San Jose 1
Northern Ky 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
East Tenn St 73 FINAL
Citadel 74
Winthrop 50 FINAL
Campbell 65
Delaware 58 FINAL
Drexel 44
Jacksonville St 57 FINAL
Eastern Ky 63
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Elon 72
Sacred Heart 90 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 85
Western Carolina 49 FINAL
Furman 53
Char Southern 81 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Western Ill 66 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Nebraska Omaha 73 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 67
Radford 69 FINAL
Liberty 80
St Francis-NY 74 FINAL
Long Island 69
Wofford 76 FINAL
Mercer 72
Minnesota 96 FINAL
Michigan State 90
High Point 75 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 71
Samford 67 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Ohio State 81
Wagner 59 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Mount St Marys 60 FINAL
St Francis-PA 63
Houston 54 FINAL
Temple 66
Vanderbilt 73 FINAL
Tennessee 65
Chattanooga 86 FINAL
Va Military 82
Milwaukee 61 FINAL
Wright State 58
Coastal Carolina 69 FINAL
Presbyterian 80
Central Conn St 69 FINAL
Bryant 77
Ga Southern 77 FINAL
Appalachian St 58
SIU Edwardsville 61 FINAL
Austin Peay 64
Green Bay 72 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 67
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 77
FIU 69 FINAL
Marshall 87
Rider 63 FINAL
Monmouth 60
Eastern Ill 57 FINAL
Murray State 65
Charlotte 65 FINAL
North Texas 81
North Dakota St 58 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Old Dominion 63 FINAL
Rice 54
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Southern Miss 70
UT Martin 69 FINAL
Tennessee St 52
Fla Atlantic 68 FINAL
Western Ky 71
Northern Ariz 85 FINAL
North Dakota 75
Grand Canyon 70 FINAL
Chicago State 74
Utah Valley U 50 FINAL
UMKC 69
ULM 75 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Texas-Arlington 80 FINAL
Arkansas State 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 92
Troy 61 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arizona 82 FINAL
Colorado 54
SMU 66 FINAL
Memphis 57
Tenn Tech 73 FINAL
Morehead State 86
Rutgers 85 FINAL
Purdue 92
Southern Utah 67 FINAL
Northern Colorado 77
Montana State 68 FINAL
Eastern Wash 92
UC Davis 45 2nd Half 11:30
UC Santa Barbara 51
UC Irvine 52 2nd Half 11:36
Cal Poly 39
Cal State Fullerton 51 2nd Half 12:15
CS-Northridge 46
Montana 36 2nd Half 17:10
Idaho 28
BYU 44 2nd Half 15:27
Portland 45
Pacific 39 2nd Half 11:09
Santa Clara 36
Arizona State 9 1st Half 1:44
Utah 32
San Diego 5 1st Half 15:49
Gonzaga 3
St Marys-CA 15 1st Half 12:56
San Francisco 8
Oregon State 8 1st Half 15:35
Stanford 7
Long Beach State 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Marshall 74 FINAL
FIU 50
TX-Arlington 62 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
ULM 45 FINAL
South Alabama 38
Troy 75 FINAL
Texas State 59
Georgia State 39 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 56
William & Mary 84 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 55
Delaware 68 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
UMBC 41 FINAL
Maine 61
UMass Lowell 72 FINAL
Vermont 64
Albany 65 FINAL
Hartford 50
Stony Brook 68 FINAL
Binghamton 59
Boston College 60 FINAL
(8) Louisville 77
(23) Syracuse 60 FINAL
Clemson 55
(16) Duke 62 FINAL
Georgia Tech 71
Florida 53 FINAL
Alabama 49
NC State 52 FINAL
(9) Florida State 72
Miami-Florida 59 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
LSU 57 FINAL
Ole Miss 58
(11) Miss State 50 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 69
Fairfield 74 FINAL
Iona 62
Marist 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 66
Quinnipiac 91 FINAL
Rider 53
Virginia 70 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 72
Pittsburgh 59 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 87
Ohio State 88 FINAL
Penn State 70
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Dayton 69
(22) George Washington 81 FINAL
Richmond 69
Saint Louis 53 FINAL
Rhode Island 68
Wright State 74 FINAL
Detroit 59
Green Bay 70 FINAL
Oakland 55
Western Ky 85 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 74
Indiana 72 FINAL
(5) Maryland 83
North Texas 46 FINAL
Charlotte 71
Central Arkansas 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 56
SE Louisiana 60 FINAL
Northwestern St 71
Nicholls 63 FINAL
New Orleans 68
Incarnate Word 44 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 58
Denver 68 FINAL
No Dakota State 87
IUPU-Ft Wayne 61 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 70
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota 69
Lamar 77 FINAL
McNeese State 98
Western Ill 49 FINAL
South Dakota St 69
Missouri 70 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 69
(13) Kentucky 56 FINAL
Arkansas 51
(20) Rutgers 60 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 80
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 59
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
(17) Iowa 78
North Dakota 68 FINAL
Northern Ariz 72
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Southern Utah 66
Louisiana Tech 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
Montana State 63
Idaho 68 FINAL
Montana 81
Auburn 70 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(6) Tennessee 70 FINAL
Georgia 59
Gonzaga 62 FINAL
San Diego 75
USC 48 FINAL
Washington 60
Portland 63 FINAL
BYU 65
(24) California 74 FINAL
Oregon 59
(19) Stanford 69 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 58
Chicago State 49 FINAL
Grand Canyon 73
UMKC 51 FINAL
Utah Valley U 61
San Francisco 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 62
UCLA 57 2nd Half 12:12
Washington St 61
Santa Clara 42 2nd Half 12:28
Pacific 56
CS-Northridge 48 2nd Half 11:45
Cal State Fullerton 38
UC Santa Barbara 27 2nd Half 10:40
Cal-Irvine 37
Hawaii 27 2nd Half 13:18
Long Beach St 31
Cal Poly 45 2nd Half 14:19
UC Davis 29

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Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

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