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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Vikings Rewind: Darrelle Revis intercepts Matt Cassel

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 17th at 9:40am 275441321

The situation: Down 10-7 with 13:37 left in the first half, the Vikings are faced with a 2nd and 10 at their own 38.

The reason: The Patriots have just reeled off 10 unanswered points, and the Vikings have a chance to tie the game on this drive after their previous two drives ended with an interception and a punt.

The result: Cornerback Darrelle Revis intercepted quarterback Matt Cassel’s pass intended for wide receiver Greg Jennings.

How it happened:

IMG_0098The Vikings go trips right with Jennings (circled in yellow) sliding inside. He’s shadowed by cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has defended him for most of the game.

IMG_0099Cassel receives good protection as the play develops. With a safety up top, Revis remains in man coverage with Jennings (circled in blue).

IMG_0102Just as Cassel is set to throw the ball, Revis essentially runs Jennings’ route for him. The cornerback beats Jennings to the spot on the post route. Jennings is covered the entire time, but Cassel is practically trusting his favorite target to make a play because everyone else is covered as well.IMG_0104Jennings doesn’t make the play. Instead, Revis replicated an interception you’d see during cornerback drills in practice. It was one of four interceptions thrown by Cassel, who played poorly in the 30-7 loss. The Patriots went on a seven-play, 61-yard drive after the interception that was capped on a nine-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Revis Island eliminated Jennings, limiting him to just one catch for four yards on four targets.

Vikings issue early-morning statement on Peterson move

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 17th at 7:34am 275421081

While you were sleeping — well, at least while I was sleeping — the Vikings announced they were placing embattled running back Adrian Peterson on their exempt list. The move will keep Peterson away from the team while the legal process involving his child abuse case plays out in Texas.

For all the details involving that decision, be sure to check out our full story here.

The Vikings organization announced the move at 12:47 a.m. with a press release that featured a statement from owners Mark and Zygi Wilf. Here is the entirety of that statement:

This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.

 
We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role – and the responsibilities that go with it – as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.
 
While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.
 
We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision. We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Peterson put on exempt list, Cassel misfiring deep and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 17th at 7:15am 275420071

Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

—The Vikings reversed course on RB Adrian Peterson and placed him on the exempt list.

— The fallout from Peterson’s reinstatement continued all day Tuesday.

— Should the Vikings be ashamed of their decision to reinstate Peterson?

— It isn’t easy for Vikings players who get caught in the media storm.

— The Vikings brought back FB Zach Line to their practice squad.

— Here are five Vikings stats that stand out as we enter Week 3.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

— The Saints must prepare as if Peterson is going to play Sunday.

— Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said his defense is killing the team.

— The Saints need to focus on their mistakes, not their playoff chances.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

Head coach Mike Zimmer and QB Matt Cassel will have their weekly press conferences at Winter Park at 11 a.m. The locker room will be open then, too. Practice starts at 12:50 p.m.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Cassel is the only NFL starter who has yet to complete a pass beyond 20 yards this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Even Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu has completed one.

Vikings keep fullback Line on their practice squad

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 16th at 3:07pm 275333821

In between a barrage of media tweets about sponsors distancing themselves from the Vikings and the NFL as if they were on fire, the Vikings tweeted an announcement of a minor roster move.

The Vikings added fullback Zach Line to their practice squad today, a few days after they were forced to release him following the deactivation of troubled running back Adrian Peterson.

When Peterson was declared out of the game, the Vikings cut Line and promoted Joe Banyard from the practice squad so they had three tailbacks available for the home opener against the Patriots.

Banyard is still on the 53-man, so the Vikings gave the vacant spot on the practice squad to Line.

Line played three games for the Vikings last season. He made the team out of camp despite the presence of starting fullback Jerome Felton because head coach Mike Zimmer said good fullbacks are hard to find. But the 24-year-old did not play in Week 1, in part because of a minor ankle injury.

Five Vikings stats that stand out for Week 3

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 16th at 1:05pm 275292661

Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.

one — complete pass thrown beyond 10 yards by Matt Cassel this season.

Cassel didn’t complete a single pass beyond 10 yards in the 30-7 loss to the Patriots, according to ESPN Stats and Info — well, unless you count the three caught by the other team, but we wouldn’t advise you do that. Through two games, the Vikings QB is just 1-for-13 for 18 total yards on passes thrown at least 10 yards downfield. That continues a troubling trend from a season ago, when he completed just 46.4 percent of his throws beyond 10 yards, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

2.8 — yards per carry for the Vikings in Sunday’s loss without you-know-who.

With star running back Adrian Peterson deactivated, the Vikings struggled to run the ball against the Patriots. Matt Asiata got the start and rushed for just 36 yards on 13 carries. The Vikings as a team averaged 2.8 yards per carry and their longest run was a 13-yard scramble by Cassel. The biggest difference came after contact. The Vikings had just 26 yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus. Peterson had 34 by himself in Week 1 — and that was an off day for him.

eight — quarterback pressures allowed by Matt Kalil through the first two games.

Kalil has allowed two sacks and eight total pressures this season, according to Pro Football Focus, the most on the team. Those numbers aren’t exactly becoming for a former fourth overall pick and a player who is counted on to protect the quarterback’s blind side. Kalil was beaten twice by Patriots pass rushers — and that’s not including Kalil’s whiff on the blocked field goal — for sacks and allowed four other pressures. As a result, Kalil is PFF’s lowest-graded NFL offensive tackle.

32 — percentage of third-down opportunities converted by Vikings opponents.

It’s early, but the Vikings defense has been much better on third down in 2014. In 2013, the Vikings allowed opponents to convert 44 percent of their third-down opportunities, which ranked 30th in the NFL. This season, under new head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have been much improved. Sure, they have been aided by some early-down penalties, but their opponents have converted just nine of their 28 third-down opportunities. That 32 percent conversion rate ranks sixth in the NFL.

1.73 — yards allowed by Captain Munnerlyn per coverage snap in the slot in 2014.

The Vikings signed Munnerlyn, a free-agent cornerback, in part because they hoped he could limit the damage done by slot receivers. But so far this season, Munnerlyn has struggled in that regard. In 40 coverage snaps in the slot, Munnerlyn has been targeted six times, allowing each of them to be completed for a total of 69 yards. Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman’s touchdown Sunday came when he lined up across from Munnerlyn in the left slot and lost him on a corner route.

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