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.
Eleven players are on the Vikings’ first injury report of the week. The biggest surprise was running back Matt Asiata, who didn’t participate in practice because of a concussion. He would have to pass the league concussion protocol in order to return. If he doesn’t, the Vikings would lean even more on Ben Tate, the former Browns and Texans running back who was claimed off waivers and awarded to the Vikings today.
Tate might even garner a prominent role on Sunday because running back Jerick McKinnon also didn’t practice because of a lower back issue that has bothered him since last week.
Also missing practice entirely were: WR Jarius Wright (hamstring), WR Greg Jennings (rib) and OT Mike Harris (ankle).
Limited in practice were LB Anthony Barr (knee), DT Sharrif Floyd (knee), CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and DE Everson Griffen (neck).
On the injury report with full practice participation were TE Kyle Rudolph, who is heading into his second game back after hernia surgery, and DE Scott Crichton (hip).
Vikings practice has begun and the media folks have just been booted from the building.
There but not practicing are receivers Greg Jennings and Jarius Wright, and running back Jerick McKinnon.
Not there and therefore not practicing so far are running back Matt Asiata and backup offensive tackle Mike Harris.
The team will issue its official injury report after practice.
Interceptions come in bunches, a common phrase Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes has heard this week.
“That’s what I was told,” said Rhodes with a chuckle.
That’s due to Rhodes finally obtaining his first career interception on Sunday against the Bears. He made a nice diving catch on an underthrown pass from Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in the final seconds of the first half.
Rhodes still has the ball in his possession and planned to display it in a special place in his house. It took Rhodes 23 games to snag an interception, and he’s had a few missed opportunities this season at forcing turnovers, but the second-year cornerback was relieved that it finally happened.
“With the great quarterbacks we have in the league, it’s tough to get that,” Rhodes said. “It felt good to get that.”
The challenge to grab another interception will be a lot more difficult on Sunday against the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While Cutler is second in the NFL with 12 interceptions, Rodgers has thrown just three on 313 attempts. He’s having one of the best seasons in his career and has thrown for 656 yards and nine touchdown in his last two games against the Bears and Eagles.
“Aaron Rodgers has always been a great quarterback,” Rhodes said. “He always makes good decisions, gets the ball out fast to his receivers and makes great reads. I’m looking forward to a good game, him making great plays and we just got to make great plays too.”
Yes, Adrian Peterson remains the hottest news surrounding the Vikings. But as a distraction within the walls at Winter Park, it sounds like this one died of old age a while ago since Peterson hasn’t played since Week 1.
“Not really much has changed,” coach Mike Zimmer said earlier today when asked for his reaction to Tuesday’s news that Peterson had been suspended by the league for the rest of the season for injuries he caused his 4-year-old son when he chose to use a wooden switch to beat him as a form of discipline.
“I still say exactly what I said before. I support him and his family. He was great with me. But other than that, our focus is on Green Bay and we got to move forward. That’s just the way life is.”
Asked if he had held out hope that Peterson would return this season, Zimmer said, “We’ve kind of taken this one day at a time as it’s gone. So we just go with the cards we’re dealt. I know we made the statement yesterday, so we’ll kind of stick with that mantra.”
Zimmer also sounded like it wasn’t all that difficult for players to stay focused. Except, of course, when reporters are asking about staying focused.
“Inside the locker room, when they watch the Packers and they watch the things they do offensively and defensively and returning punts and scoring on defense and things like that, they get your attention pretty quick,” Zimmer said. “This team has been through a lot of things this year. I think for the most part they’ve stayed focused very well. So I think that we just keep pounding the message about what we’re trying to do here and trying to accomplish as the kind of football team and organization. The overriding message just keeps going on and on.”
Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had little to say when asked for his reaction.
“Adrian is a great guy,” Bridgewater said. “We just have to continue to play without him. We would love to have him, but that’s out of our hands.”
Asked if he’d be ready to become the person that reporters like to call (pause for dramatic effect) “The FACE of the franchise,” Bridgewater didn’t try to hide.
“I can tell you that I’ll embrace the role,” he said. “We have a group of guys here who have established themselves in the league. I know that for me it’s not all about me. We have 52 other guys active on this roster and also the practice squad guys who contribute to our success as a team. I’ll embrace the role, but I know it’s not all about me.
“We have other playmakers on this team. Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jerick McKinnon. And you talk about the defensive side of the ball with Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Chad Greenway and those guys. This entire team plays a role in our success.”
It’s possible that Bridgewater has played his last game with Peterson. How will he be remembered?
“Adrian was a great mentor to me throughout OTAs and training camp,” Bridgewater said. ” There were times in training camp when I would get down on myself because I may have had a bad practice or didn’t like this throw or that throw. He would always come up to me and say, hey, you’re not going to be perfect. You can’t control what everybody is saying about you. You can’t control every throw. You have to trust yourself and play football. Hearing that from Adrian, that meant a lot because he’s established himself in this league and is one of the great, best running backs to play this game.”
Zimmer was told that Bridgewater says he’s cool with the whole face of the franchise thing.
“I’ll be glad to let him do it instead of me,” Zimmer joked. “He will be ready. It’s hard for a young guy when you first come in and start playing in the middle of the year. But I believe he will be the face of the franchise and he can do all of these press conferences from now on. I would be ecstatic to let him do them.”
Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Peterson’s legacy will continue to take a hit with this suspension.
— Peterson’s suspension shows the NFL is taking a tougher stand.
— FB Jerome Felton came out swinging in defense of Peterson.
— Other Vikings balanced their concern for Peterson and his son.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
— The Packers are hoping for some cold playoff games at Lambeau Field.
— Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers is using a new routine to stay healthy.
— The Packers are breaking their defensive mold with OLB Clay Matthews.
— The Green Bay offensive line is starting to get some credit for its play.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
The national media circus is sure to be back at Winter Park today after Peterson’s suspension was announced yesterday. Coach Mike Zimmer and QB Teddy Bridgewater will be on the podium and the locker room will be open, and likely crammed with cameras, before the 12:50 p.m. practice.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Peterson wants to break Emmitt Smith’s career rushing record of 18,355 yards. But Peterson, likely sidelined now until after his 30th birthday, has just 10,190 career yards. He is 28th all-time in rushing and third among active players. Catching Smith seems like a longshot now, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be able to catch Frank Gore, who has 10,615 yards and is still going strong at 31.
|Kansas City||7:25 PM|
|NY Jets||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Jacksonville||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Tampa Bay||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Arizona||11/23/14 3:05 PM|
|St. Louis||11/23/14 3:05 PM|
|Miami||11/23/14 3:25 PM|
|Washington||11/23/14 3:25 PM|
|Dallas||11/23/14 7:30 PM|
|Baltimore||11/24/14 7:30 PM|
|LA Clippers||7:00 PM|
|Tampa Bay||6:30 PM|
|St. Louis||6:30 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||57||FINAL|
|Penn State||71||2nd Half 1:36|
|Detroit||36||2nd Half 12:11|
|Eckerd||8||1st Half 13:31|
|VU of Lynchburg||2||1st Half 15:09|
|Texas||9||1st Half 13:46|
|Jacksonville||5||1st Half 15:33|
|Navy||6||1st Half 11:47|
|Grambling St||3||1st Half 15:32|
|UMass Lowell||22||1st Half 11:07|
|Niagara||9||1st Half 11:51|
|Palm Beach Atlantic||6||1st Half 12:41|
|Texas Southern||11||1st Half 15:15|
|MD-Eastern Shore||8||1st Half 13:41|
|SUNY-Westbury||4||1st Half 15:07|
|Bluefield (VA)||3||1st Half 13:34|
|William & Mary||12|
|Bob Jones Univ||12||1st Half 13:25|
|New Hampshire||0||1st Half 14:52|
|Champions Bapt||6:30 PM|
|George Mason||6:30 PM|
|South Florida||7:00 PM|
|UC Davis||7:00 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||7:00 PM|
|Franklin Pierce||7:00 PM|
|Southern U||7:00 PM|
|North Florida||7:00 PM|
|New Orleans||7:00 PM|
|Miss Valley St||7:00 PM|
|Northwestern St||7:00 PM|
|Morgan State||7:30 PM|
|Southern Miss||8:00 PM|
|Loyola Marymount||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9:00 PM|
|Pacific Union||9:00 PM|
|San Diego St|
|(12) Kansas State||0||1st Qtr 11:05|
|North Carolina||6:30 PM|
|Arkansas State||8:30 PM|
|Kent State||11/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||11/21/14 7:00 PM|
|Air Force||11/21/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|San Jose St||11/21/14 8:30 PM|
|Char Southern||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|South Alabama||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|Rutgers||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|(10) Michigan State|
|Minnesota||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|Northwestern||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|(18) Marshall||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|Kansas||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|Indiana||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|(7) Ohio State|
|Penn State||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|(14) Eastern Ky||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|TX-San Antonio||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|SMU||11/22/14 11:00 AM|
|Virginia Tech||11/22/14 11:30 AM|
|Washington St||11/22/14 12:00 PM|
|(13) Arizona State|
|Louisiana Tech||11/22/14 12:00 PM|
|Western Mich||11/22/14 12:00 PM|
|New Mexico||11/22/14 12:30 PM|
|(22) Colorado State|
|Eastern Mich||11/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Appalachian St||11/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Tulsa||11/22/14 2:00 PM|
|(15) Arizona||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|FIU||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|(8) Ole Miss||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|Louisville||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|Maryland||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|(14) Wisconsin||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|Syracuse||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|Boston College||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Georgia State||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|Tulane||11/22/14 2:30 PM|
|Stanford||11/22/14 3:00 PM|
|Western Carolina||11/22/14 3:00 PM|
|ULM||11/22/14 3:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|So Florida||11/22/14 3:00 PM|
|Colorado||11/22/14 3:30 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||11/22/14 6:00 PM|
|Samford||11/22/14 6:00 PM|
|Miami-Florida||11/22/14 6:00 PM|
|Vanderbilt||11/22/14 6:30 PM|
|(4) Miss State|
|(19) Missouri||11/22/14 6:30 PM|
|Oklahoma State||11/22/14 6:30 PM|
|(24) USC||11/22/14 7:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||11/22/14 7:00 PM|
|Boise State||11/22/14 9:15 PM|
|Oregon State||11/22/14 9:30 PM|
|Fresno State||11/22/14 9:30 PM|
|UNLV||11/22/14 10:00 PM|
|Ohio U||11/25/14 6:00 PM|
|LSU||11/27/14 6:30 PM|
|(5) TCU||11/27/14 6:30 PM|
|Montreal||11/23/14 12:00 PM|
|Edmonton||11/23/14 3:30 PM|
|San Jose St||80||FINAL|
|Washington Adventist||21||2nd Half 11:54|
|Alabama State||40||2nd Half 15:48|
|VA Commonwealth||51||2nd Half 15:19|
|Southern U||41||2nd Half 17:35|
|Monmouth||13||1st Half 12:10|
|Bethune-Cookman||2||1st Half 15:46|
|St Thomas (TX)||10||1st Half 11:35|
|Boston U||2||1st Half 15:50|
|Clemson||4||1st Half 14:48|
|(2) South Carolina||9|
|(7) Duke||15||1st Half 15:10|
|Belmont||10||1st Half 14:44|
|Fla Gulf Coast||5||1st Half 13:40|
|Florida||10||1st Half 11:57|
|James Madison||6:00 PM|
|Philander Smith||6:00 PM|
|Virginia||15||1st Half 11:50|
|Murray State||10||1st Half 14:38|
|Providence||4||1st Half 15:13|
|Holy Cross||9||1st Half 10:13|
|Valparaiso||12||1st Half 13:22|
|Detroit||12||1st Half 13:29|
|St Bonaventure||4||1st Half 13:07|
|Mary Washington||7||1st Half 13:13|
|Michigan||11||1st Half 10:23|
|Davidson||12||1st Half 13:35|
|Longwood||6||1st Half 14:00|
|USC Upstate||4||1st Half 15:47|
|(17) West Virginia||7:00 PM|
|Western Ill||7:00 PM|
|Weber State||8:00 PM|
|(10) Texas||8:00 PM|
|Utah Valley U||8:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||9:00 PM|
|South Dakota||9:00 PM|
|Santa Clara||9:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara|