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.
Mick Tingelhoff, the overlooked and undrafted center who went on to play 17 seasons without missing a game for the Vikings, has moved one step closer to reaching the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A five-time first-team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler from 1962 to 1978, Tingelhoff was chosen this afternoon as the Hall of Fame Senior Committee’s lone nominee for enshrinement vote by the full committee in 2015.
“It’s unbelievable,” Tingelhoff said by phone from South Dakota, where he’s vacationing with his family. “I’m honored. But I’ll be a lot happier if they put me in next Februrary.”
Although the Senior Committee carries tremendous weight, Tingelhoff still must receive at least 80 percent of the vote from the full board of selectors. They will meet and vote on the Saturday before Super Bowl 49 in February.
Vikings Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, a longtime roommate and friend of Tingelhoff’s, grabbed the phone from his secretary when told the news.
“It’s about [darn] time I got a call like this on Mick Tingelhoff,” he said. “He played 17 years. He came to us as an undrafted free agent from Nebraska. I remember his first day. I was going into my second year.
“He started out as a middle linebacker. We needed a center. He moved over there and became as great a center that’s ever played.”
One of the responsibilities that typically fall into the lap of a starting middle linebacker is donning the green dot on the back of their helmet during games, a distinction that means that they are the one defensive player on the field who has a radio headset in his helmet. That allows him to receive the calls from the defensive coordinator, sometimes via another defensive coach on the sideline.
That conversation is a one-way street, since the players are not permitted to have microphones to talk back. But it is an important one nonetheless, as the player with the green dot is the one who gets the defensive play call verbally and must relay it to the rest of the defense. For more on how that process works, I recommend you read this story I did back in Baltimore a couple of years ago.
So how does this relate to the Vikings? Well, head coach Mike Zimmer has yet to choose a starting middle linebacker between Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole. And regardless of which one he picks, they are not expected to play in the nickel and other sub packages, meaning they will only end up being on the field about 40 percent of the time. So giving the green dot to the Mike isn’t going to fly.
Zimmer could have chosen to give it to starting safety Harrison Smith, but when TCF Bank Stadium gets worked up in anticipation of a big third-down play, it would be difficult for Smith to yell out the calls loud enough from the secondary for the guys in the trenches to decipher what he was saying.
That left two other choices: Chad Greenway and Anthony Barr, who both stay on the field in the nickel package. Of course Zimmer was going to delegate those duties to the veteran, not a rookie.
“I think we’re pretty solid there,” Zimmer said when asked if he is still trying to figure out a plan.
Zimmer, who must have forgotten that we are running out of new stuff to talk about here in the dog days of late August, seemed surprised that I was asking him about who would wear the green dot.
“Is that important? It’s a news story today?” Zimmer said playfully (I think, at least). “Yeah, he’s been doing it. I wish 11 of them could have it, though. Have blue dots, green dots, red dots.”
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said a few minutes ago that outside linebacker Chad Greenway, who played with a fractured wrist a season ago, underwent tests on one of his wrists. The x-rays and the magnetic resonance imaging exam apparently showed nothing major, but Zimmer plans to “back him down a little bit today.”
“He’s got a little wrist,” Zimmer said. “It’s not a big deal. He’s been MRIed and X-rayed and we just don’t want to irritate it more.”
Greenway sprained his right wrist during Week 7 last season and fractured it in two spots the following week. He did not miss a game, though he did exit the team’s Week 14 loss to the Bears early after re-aggravating the injury in overtime.
Asked if it was the same wrist, Zimmer said he thought both wrists bothered Greenway in 2013.
“It’s not broken,” Zimmer added.
Running back Adrian Peterson is not expected to practice today as he was excused by Zimmer to deal with a personal matter.
Defensive end Brian Robison, who missed the past two practices dealing with his own personal matter, was back on the field for walkthrough and will practice this afternoon.
Zimmer said that cornerback Jabari Price, nose tackle Linval Joseph and linebackers Gerald Hodges and Brandon Watts will not practice. He indicated that Watts is dealing with a “lower leg” ailment.
In other news, Zimmer was asked about offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s comments from yesterday when Turner said he was “very disappointed” with Vikings fans booing Christian Ponder.
“Norv can say whatever he wants. I think Christian deserves to be treated like a Viking,” he said.
And while Zimmer isn’t yet disclosing his plan for playing time in Saturday’s preseason game against the Chiefs, he did said that there is a possibility that Ponder, whom the coaching staff all but said would make the 53-man roster out of camp, could play in Saturday night’s game.
“I still like a lot of things that he does. His athletic ability. His intelligence. The way he throws it,” Zimmer said. “I keep seeing [people say] he doesn’t have a good arm. That’s wrong, too. He’s got a good arm. He throws the ball beautifully. He just didn’t make as many plays during OTAs as some of the other guys did.”
If Mike Zimmer were a used car, most of us would still be kicking his tires and slowly circling him with a discerning eye.
While much is left to learn, we can deduce that he’s no cookie-cutter coach. Maybe it’s his age (58) or personality (firm but not bullying), or both, but he’s certainly comfortable in his own skin. And if the brain under that skin wants to do something that’s not in step with customary NFL thinking, so be it.
That’s an admirable form of confidence in a person who has never been a head coach before.
Zimmer clearly is in complete control and has the full attention of his players. But unlike a lot of new head coaches, he hasn’t altered his personality to achieve that end result. In training camp, he didn’t choose to break the players physically while tapping his badge and putting his boot to their necks.
When the preseason started, he played his starters for the entire first half of the second preseason game. Then he played his second quarterback for the entire second half. It was strange, but exciting and potentially productive that Zimmer apparently doesn’t believe in mop-up duties in the preseason.
Now, we’re days away from the third preseason game. Most, if not every other coach, always talks about this being the most critical preseason game. The media follows with stories about how this is the “dress rehearsal.” This is the game when the coaches game plan and the starters – even some superstars such as Adrian Peterson — play into the third quarter.
I asked Zimmer on Monday if he views the third preseason game with a heightened sense of importance.
“Honestly, no,” he said. “This is still a lot about us. We’re going to have a few more sections than we have had the last two weeks with the cards and the scout team work, but it’s still about what we do. We’ll have plenty of time to prepare for St. Louis [the regular season opener] when we get going in there. It’s more about the routine that we are going to do this week, so we get into the in-season schedule routine as opposed to really sitting down and game planning.”
Asked if he’ll game plan at all for Saturday’s game at Kansas City, he said, “About like we did the last two games.
“We look at them on tape and we will watch a little more tape on them than we have watched on the last two games, we’re not going to go in there and double [receiver Dwayne] Bowe. We are going to do what we do.”
Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— QB Christian Ponder has not been written off by the Vikings coaching staff.
— Jim Souhan thinks QB Teddy Bridgewater has been more poised than Browns QB Johnny Manziel.
— Mark Craig looks at the “points of emphasis” causing more penalties in the preseason.
— WR Jerome Simpson said his meeting with the NFL went great.
— RB Adrian Peterson likely won’t play during the preseason.
TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY
— Vikings PR (@VikingsPR) August 19, 2014
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
— Lions head coach Jim Caldwell is impressed by QB Matthew Stafford.
— Former Bears LB Tim Shaw has ALS.
— The Packers waived injured TE Colt Lyerla and he will be placed on injured reserve.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
The Vikings will conclude their walkthrough at 11:10 a.m. and Zimmer’s press conference will be afterwards. Practice will begin at 12:50 p.m. once again.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
While the quarterbacks received the headlines from Saturday’s victory over the Cardinals, the offensive line also made strides in pass protection during the second preseason game. The unit allowed just one sack after giving up six against the Raiders.
|Houston - LP: D. Keuchel||0||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy||3|
|Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber||1||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes||4|
|Detroit - LP: D. Price||0||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb||1|
|Arizona - LP: O. Perez||0||FINAL|
|Washington - WP: R. Soriano||1|
|San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong||1||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada||2|
|Atlanta||8||Top 8th Inning|
|LA Angels||2||Bottom 8th Inning|
|San Francisco||2||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|San Diego - T. Ross||9:10 PM|
|Los Angeles - C. Kershaw|
|Pittsburgh||7||3rd Qtr 0:24|
|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|
|(21) Texas A&M||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Wake Forest||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Boise State||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss|
|Tulane||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Temple||8/28/14 8:15 PM|
|Rutgers||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Weber State||8/28/14 9:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State|
|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|
|Ottawa||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|San Antonio||30||3rd Qtr|
Poll: How much money do you plan to spend per person at the State Fair?