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 sign cornerback from Canadian league

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated January 15th at 12:00pm 288699561

The Vikings signed versatile cornerback Jalil Carter to a reserve/future contract.

Carter spent the past three seasons with Toronto of the Canadian Football League. He is 6-2 and 205 pounds, and played college football at Akron, where he was a safety and receiver. He signed with St. Louis as an undrafted free agent in 2011.

Spielman defends Peterson's character, wants his return, but can't guarantee it will happen

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated January 14th at 1:20pm 288575771

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman repeated coach Mike Zimmer’s earlier comments that the Vikings would like for suspended running back Adrian Peterson to return to the team in 2015, but stopped short of saying that will happen once Peterson is eligible to be reinstated on April 15.

“I don’t know if there’s a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want Adrian Peterson on the football team,” Spielman told a small group of reporters at Winter Park this morning. “If you can name me one. And I don’t want to speak for other teams. I’m being a little sarcastic with that. But I know he’s a pretty good football player.”

Peterson played only the season opener in 2014 after serving part of the season on the commissioner’s exempt list and then being suspended once he pleaded to a misdemeanor charge in relation to the injuries he caused while using a switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. Spielman defended Peterson’s character while acknowledging that he made a mistake.

“I think people tend to forget that when Adrian did make a mistake, he admitted he made a mistake,” Spielman said. “He went through the process in the court system. He’s currently suspended by the NFL right now, but he’s done a lot of positive things in this community as well.

“I’ve known Adrian his whole career and what type of person Adrian is. But I also know that we have to follow everything that’s put in place for us. Is there a resolution? Not right now. All I know is where we stand today. Does that change? I’m sure it’s going to change. Until those things change and get resolved, right now, we have Adrian Peterson, who is under contract for next year, who is currently suspended by the NFL. That’s pretty much all I can go into right now.”

Spielman deflected a point-blank question on whether the Vikings can afford Peterson’s current salary cap figure of $15.4 million.

“I’m not going to get into anything from a business-related standpoint with not only his, but any player’s contract,” Spielman said. “That’s stuff that we’ve always handled internally. I will always keep the business side of players contract internal.”

Taking the cap numbers and off-the-field issues out of play, it’s obvious where Spielman stands on Peterson, the player.

“Zim has expressed his opinion on Adrian,” said Spielman, referring to Zimmer’s earlier comments about wanting Peterson to return. “And there’s no doubt or no question on what Adrian Peterson has done for this organization on the field and what he is as a football player.”

Peterson will turn 30 this year. Normally, that’s ancient for most running backs. Spielman said Peterson isn’t a normal running back, so it’s probably a good idea not to assume things about AP. After all, it was assumed he wouldn’t be the same after having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Then he came back and ran for 2,097 yards and won MVP honors.

“The only thing I would say about Adrian is Adrian is maybe one of the most unique players I’ve ever been around,” Spielman said. “Everybody talked about how he’s not going to be the same after his ACL. And that was his best year, coming back from that.

“Knowing Adrian, I know that he is going to want to come back and play. He’s going to play at a very high level when he comes back. I’m anticipating that, just knowing what he’s done in the past.”

Under rules of Peterson’s suspension, the team has not  been allowed to have contact with him. That makes it even more difficult for the Vikings when it comes to figuring out how this all will end.

“All I know is where we are today,” Spielman said. “I’m not going to get into all the hypothetical discussions we have internally.

“I’ll just stick by with what I said. I know that Adrian is a good person, just being around him. I know he’s done a lot of good in this community. What he did – he just came out and said he made a mistake. As Zim had stated earlier, he has to get all that in order and then we’ll proceed from there.”

Teddy Bridgewater named to PFWA All-Rookie team

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated January 13th at 6:57pm 288428961

A Vikings player finally received a postseason honor, and it’s none other than quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The Pro Football Writers of America named Bridgewater to its All-Rookie team on Tuesday. Bridgewater finished with 2,919 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with an 85.2 quarterback rating in 13 games (12 starts).

He won the award over Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who started the entire season and had 3,270 yards, 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 76.6 quarterback rating.

The Vikings struck out on the PFWA All-NFL and All-NFC teams announced on Monday. They also didn’t have a representative on the AP All-Pro team or the Pro Bowl.

Bridgewater is also up for Rookie of the Year (You can vote here on the award)  with Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans, Bengals running back Jeremy Hill, Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was named PFWA’s Rookie of the Year.

Here’s the complete PFWA All-Rookie Team:

Offense
QB – Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
RB – Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals; Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams
WR – Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants; Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
TE – Jace Amaro, New York Jets
C – Corey Linsley, Green Bay Packers
G – Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns; Zach Martin, Dallas Cowboys
T – Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans; Ja’Wuan James, Miami Dolphins
Defense
DL – Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams; Timmy Jernigan, Baltimore Ravens; Kony Ealy, Carolina Panthers; Justin Ellis, Oakland Raiders
LB – Chris Borland, San Francisco 49ers; Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders; C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens
CB – Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears; E.J. Gaines, St. Louis Rams
S – Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers
Special Teams
PK – Cody Parkey, Philadelphia Eagles
P – Pat O’Donnell, Chicago Bears
KR – Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
PR – De’Anthony Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs
ST – Trey Burton, Philadelphia Eagles

Craig: NFL divisional playoff predictions

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated January 10th at 11:02am 288144081

Well, at least the regular season predictions – 146-90-1 straight up and 125-111-1 – went fairly well.

And the start of last week’s wild-card round went as expected when the Panthers won. But after that, well …

Last week’s final record: 1-3 straight up and 2-2 versus the spread.

The Lions pick was a reach that was understood at the time it was made. Picking the Bengals was a lesson in the value of paying closer attention to key injuries (Note: When all the playmakers are injured, pick the other team, especially if the other team is at home).  And the Steelers losing at home was a surprise that shouldn’t have been a surprise considering Joe Flacco now has an NFL-record seven road playoff wins. Really. Joe Flacco. Look it up.

Here are four more swings at the NFL Divisional playoff games this weekend. All four home teams are favored even though we all know there’s no way all four home teams do what they’re supposed to do over two days in the NFL:

Ravens plus-7 at Patriots: Patriots by 3

Why?: New England has its best defense in years. Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady. And the Patriots have spent a week being told they’re 1-2 against Joe Flacco in the postseason the past five years.

Panthers plus-11 at Seahawks: Seahawks by 14

Why?: The Panthers have won five straight while holding those five losers to an average of 11.8 points per game. But the Seahawks are 24-2 at home with Russell Wilson at quarterback. And they joined the 1976 Steelers as the only team in NFL history to win its final six regular-season games while holding those six teams to fewer than 40 total points (39).

Cowboys plus-5 ½ at Packers: Packers by 7

Why?: Aaron Rodgers is the closest thing to a mistake-free quarterback the NFL has ever seen. Eddie Lacy provides balance and a power running game. And the defense helped the Packers outscore opponents 93-7 in the first quarter of the last seven games at Lambeau Field. Tony Romo has had a great season as well, but he’s a mistake waiting to happen.

Colts plus-7 at Broncos: Broncos by 3

Why?: The Colts lack the balance offensively to beat a much-improved Denver defense on the road. We say this while whistling past the proverbial graveyard that feels like this could be another one-and-done home outing for Peyton Manning, whose passing rhythm fell out of whack late in the year.

THE WILD-CARD ROUND

Record: 1-3. Versus spread: 2-2.

Final Regular-season Record: Last week/overall: 12-4/146-90-1. Versus spread: Last week/overall: 9-6-1/125-111-1.

Duron Carter: 'I would say Minnesota is probably my front-runner'

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated January 11th at 12:30am 288102611

The Vikings climbed to the top of CFL All-Star receiver Duron Carter’s list of preferred NFL teams to sign with after today’s workout at Winter Park.

“It went really well,” said Carter, the 23-year-old son of Vikings Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter. “I met everybody and it looked really good. I like Minnesota, I like the facilities, I like the coaches and everything. It seems like things are looking up. I would say Minnesota is probably my front-runner right now.”

Carter had already worked out for Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Kansas City. He said he hasn’t ruled them out and plans to continue his tour of NFL teams with visits to Cleveland, Carolina, San Francisco and Washington. He said Cleveland is scheduled for next Friday, while Carolina could be as early as next week depending on the outcome of the Panthers’ playoff game at Seattle on Saturday.

Carter, who caught 75 passes for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns for the Montreal Alouettes this season, can’t sign with an NFL team until Feb. 10. That’s the date that CFL players entering their option years are able to jump to the NFL.

“The Vikings are No. 1, but I might as well go around and see what everybody is talking about,” said Carter, a 6-5, 205-pounder who attended the Vikings’ 2013 rookie minicamp as a tryout invitee. “I can’t sign anyway.”

As for what impressed Carter the most about Winter Park, he said, “It was kind of incomparable to the other places I’ve been so far. I was running around that facility when I was a kid. Going back and see some of the same people still there, it was kind of like a homecoming.

“Just talking to [receivers] coach [George] Stewart and coach [Norv] Turner [the offensive coordinator], I seemed a lot more comfortable working out with them and talking to them than a lot of other places.”

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Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60

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