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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Mauti's latest knee procedure a 'speed bump'

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 18th at 7:45am 286120131

Vikings linebacker Michael Mauti described his right knee procedure as a “speed bump” and a minor scope that placed him on injured reserve last week.

Mauti dealt with three torn ACLs in five seasons at Penn State before he arrived to the Vikings last year as a seventh round pick. He expects to recover from surgery in four weeks.

“I’m kind of over that; it’s part of the game at this point,” Mauti said of his knee injuries. “It’s encouraging for me after talking with the doctors. When he went in there and looked around, he said, ‘I couldn’t believe you’ve had the surgery that you’ve had because all your cartilage looks perfect.’”

He tweaked the meniscus on a kickoff during the third quarter. It’s unrelated to Mauti’s last torn ACL, which occurred on his left knee in 2012. Mauti was upbeat about the procedure and said he walked away the day of the surgery.

“I knew it wasn’t serious,” Mauti said. “I know what it feels like to have some things go wrong down there, unfortunately. I think the most encouraging part was that it’s not that serious. He cleaned up it up, and I walked out of the surgery that day. If this was during the year, a couple more weeks, and I’d be good to go again.”

Mauti has played nine games this season, mainly used on special teams. He finished with four tackles.

Vikings promoting safety Dixon from practice squad

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 17th at 2:05pm 286118101

The Vikings are promoting safety Ahmad Dixon from the practice squad. He will fill the open roster spot created yesterday when the team waived offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb.

Dixon, a rookie, started the season with the Cowboys, who drafted him in the seventh round. He made the team out of training camp, but was waived in September, reportedly because he had been late for a couple of team activities.

He has since spent time with the Vikings, the Bears, the Dolphins and the Vikings again. He only played in an NFL game for the Bears, getting special-teams snaps in five games for them.

“I think he’s a talented guy,” head coach Mike Zimmer said today. “He’s been bouncing around on some different practice squads for a little bit. He’s a guy to look at for a possibility in the future. He played pretty good on special teams. We knew him coming out in the draft and then when he was with Dallas in the preseason, the couple games I watched he looked pretty good.”

Starting safety Robert Blanton missed Sunday’s game with an injury, and while cornerback Shaun Prater can potentially play safety, the Vikings have only three healthy safeties right now.

In other news, the Vikings added guard Jordan McCray to their practice squad. McCray, an undrafted rookie out of Central Florida, spent time on the Packers’ practice squad this season.

He was one of multiple players the team had in for tryouts today. That’s because in addition to promoting Dixon, the Vikings lost cornerback Chris Greenwood, who was signed by the Ravens.

Vikings Rewind: Reviewing the final drive vs. Lions

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 17th at 11:00am 286105791

The situation: Down 16-14 with 45 seconds left, the Vikings had the ball at their own 30 needing just a field goal to win.

The context: The Vikings were held scoreless the entire second half and missed an opportunity to score with 2:01 left in the game. The defense got the ball back after a three-and-out to set up one last chance to win.

The result: Kicker Blair Walsh missed a 68-yard field goal as time expired and seal the Lions win.

How it happened:

Instead of reviewing just one play, we’ll look at multiple plays and how the Vikings could’ve handled the situation better.

IMG_0189

We’ll start with the first play of the drive where the Vikings were lined up in trips left and wide receiver Jarius Wright was wide open on a nice route. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater sailed a ball over Wright’s hands. If completed, it would’ve been a gain of over 20 yards and placed the Vikings in Lions territory. Instead, it’s a wasted down and a wasted five seconds.

IMG_0190

On the next play, Bridgewater was pressed and forced to dump it off to running back Matt Asiata, who cut inside to gain nine yards. The Vikings were out of timeouts and Asiata gave himself up a yard short of the first down.

“We talked to the guys about, if you don’t think you can get out of bounds, get as much as you can and get down,” Zimmer said. “Matt, he got down, but he should have got the first down before he did.”

Asiata had an opportunity to get out of bounds and gain maybe two yards but chose to do the opposite. The Vikings burned 14 seconds off the clock until Bridgewater spiked the ball on 3rd and 1 at their own 39.IMG_0191

Asiata’s decision put the Vikings in a 4th and 1 situation where they needed to gain the first down but also gain a good chunk of yardage or get out of bounds. They got the first down when Bridgewater dumped it off to tight end Kyle Rudolph (circled in yellow), but he only gained five yards and didn’t get out of bounds.

Another 10 seconds went off the clock before Bridgewater spiked the ball on first down with five seconds left in the game at their own 44.

The 4th and 1, we don’t need the first down; I mean, we need the first down, but we need yards at that point and time,” Zimmer said. “We had a guy open down the field that we should’ve tried to get the ball down in there.”

Zimmer was referring to Wright (circled in red) who was around the Lions’ 44 when Bridgewater hit Rudolph. Wright beat his defender and had an opportunity to race out of bounds before the safety chased him down or the clock expired. If Wright got the Vikings to the 40, it would’ve set up a 57-yard field goal. That’s still a difficult kick to make, especially after Walsh pulled a 53-yarder to the right on the Vikings’ first drive, but nobody has ever made a 68-yard field goal before.

We’re already at three glaring mistakes and haven’t even factored in the delay of game penalty yet after the Vikings converted on fourth down that pushed the Vikings back to their own 39.

Bridgewater connected with Rudolph for 11 yards after the delay of game. Rudolph ran out of bounds at midfield with one second left. Take away the delay of game penalty and Walsh would’ve attempted a 63-yard field goal, a yard shy of NFL record for longest field goal made.

We didn’t handle the fourth quarter well and as I’m trying to teach this team that when you play good, you still have to win the fourth quarter and the critical parts,” Zimmer said. “…There’s so many games in the NFL that come down to this kind of crunch time, and we didn’t do enough to win. We’re going to keep going forward, we’re going to keep pounding the message. My mentality has not changed, my mindset has not changed. As I told the team, we’re going to stick with it, keep working on getting better because we’ve got something to build for the future.”

Zimmer listed some of the late game situations the Vikings have faced where they’ve won (the Jets and Bucs in overtime) and lost (the Packers, Bills, Lions and Bears). We touched on those situations last week in Vikings Rewind and how this young roster, particularly Bridgewater, is gaining experience with how to handle these close games. Their last four losses against the Bills, Packers, Bears and Lions were by a combined 14 points.

The Vikings had another opportunity to put it all together against a good Lions team and fell short late, just like they have in their three previous losses.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Offense needs upgrades, Bridgewater is accurate and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 17th at 7:05am 286073811

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

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— The Vikings should focus on improving their offense in the offseason.

— The Vikings have waived backup OT J’Marcus Webb.

— Teddy Bridgewater has been one of the league’s most accurate quarterbacks.

— OLB Chad Greenway is the team’s Community Man of the Year.

— The Vikings would have the 11th pick if the season ended today.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

— The Dolphins seem to be going in the wrong direction under coach Joe Philbin.

— Important lessons were learned about the Dolphins in their lackluster season.

— The Dolphins have long odds of making the playoffs, but it’s possible.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings are back at Winter Park today to get ready for this weekend’s trip to Miami. Practice is at 12:50 p.m. Beforehand, Bridgewater and coach Mike Zimmer will chat with reporters.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

As my colleague Michael Rand wrote yesterday, the Vikings reportedly had interest in trading for QB Jay Cutler back in 2009, but Cutler ultimately wound up with the Bears. Who knows how serious the Vikings were about Cutler, but it is fun to think about how differently history would have played out had the Vikings made a move for Cutler instead of luring Brett Favre out of retirement.

Vikings waive J'Marcus Webb

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated December 16th at 2:24pm 285993661

The Vikings put offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb on waivers Tuesday.

The five-year veteran was signed on Nov. 25 when the team put Phil Loadholt on season-ending injured reserve.

Earlier Tuesday, Webb tweeted that he was thankful for being on the team.

Webb missed a key block on Sunday that enabled Detroit’s Jason Jones to block Blair Walsh’s 26-yard field goal attempt in the Vikings 16-14 loss to the Lions.

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Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
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Miami
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Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
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Carolina
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New Orleans
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Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
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St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 97 1st OT 1:24
San Antonio 106
LA Clippers 65 3rd Qtr 4:05
Denver 64
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 3rd Prd
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 51 2nd Half 5:25
Creighton 66
Colorado State 71 2nd Half 3:19
Denver 64
Alabama A&M 40 2nd Half 4:18
Marquette 75
Ark-Pine Bluff 35 2nd Half 8:38
Texas Tech 53
Eastern Wash 24 1st Half 5:44
California 23
Idaho State 20 1st Half 4:05
Utah State 26
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
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Northern Ill
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Rice
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Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
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UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 67 2nd Half 2:21
Southern Ill 54
Pacific 22 1st Half 11:44
New Mexico St 7
No Dakota State 33 1st Half 2:19
Cal State Fullerton 40
Utah State 34 1st Half 3:04
Sacramento St 40
Bethesda (CA) 17 1st Half 5:50
Fresno State 18
Utah Valley U 10 1st Half 3:30
Montana 31
LSU 2 1st Half 17:05
UC Santa Barbara 2

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