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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


NFL union says it's not been involved in any revamped conduct policy

Posted by: Terry Sauer Updated December 10th at 2:49pm 285403161

The players’ union says it has not had input into a revamped personal conduct policy the NFL owners approved Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

The union has sought to have any alterations to the policy negotiated.

The current policy was part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. But in the wake of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases, portions of the policy are being reworked.

“In the latest of four talks (about the personal conduct policy) they progressively got less interested,” NFL Players Association President Eric Winston said of the NFL during a conference call Tuesday. “And we found out before this last meeting that they were already planning to present it. They basically asked us to a meeting as a farce, to say they met with the players three or four times.”

Among the union’s aims is to have Commissioner Roger Goodell’s role in handing out discipline reduced or even eliminated.

Felton, Floyd, Blanton, Barr and Charlie Johnson aren't practicing

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated December 10th at 1:35pm 285393971

Players who weren’t practicing during the portion of practice open to the media: Fullback Jerome Felton, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee), strong safety Robert Blanton (leg), linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) and left guard Charlie Johnson (ankle).

Felton’s absence is the only surprise. We’ll have the first official injury report of the week after practice.

One other observation: Vladimir Ducasse, who replaced Charlie Johnson during last week’s win over the Jets, was working at left guard during the portion of practice open to reporters.

Zimmer: `I don't want to get sentimental here, but we've come a long, long way this year'' `

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated December 10th at 3:11pm 285388721

Listening to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer today reinforced the reality that those who pour their souls into the NFL don’t adhere to the term “meaningless” games.

Zimmer was asked if he pays attention to the playoff scenarios while preparing for that week’s opponent. At 6-7, the Vikings aren’t mathematically eliminated, but let’s just say it doesn’t look good. At least one website has listed their chances of making the playoffs at 0.1 percent. And that drops to eliminated if the Rams lose to the Cardinals on Thursday.

“I honestly don’t know the records of a lot of the teams,” Zimmer said. “It’s more about just Detroit. I know people have told me that if we win these and these people lose and this and that.”

Zimmer then paused and made it clear that even when the Vikings are eliminated, the final three games will make a difference in the building of a program and the mentality he’s looking to establish. And if you read between the lines, you can tell that a winning record, regardless of post-season participation, will mean an awful lot to the rookie head coach during a tumultuous season that began with a player getting shot in the calf after the preseason opener and took a hard turn south with Adrian Peterson being removed from the team after the regular season opener.

“I don’t want to get sentimental here, but we’ve come from a long, long way this year,” Zimmer said. “From all the things that have happened, all the things that we’ve overcame from even before the St. Louis game to the opportunities that we now have in the last three weeks. I think that’s a pretty good testament to our football team and how they work and how they do the things we ask them to.

“And the coaches, too. The coaches do really a great job in trying to figure out what we can do, how we can win, how we can get to an opportunity that we have.”

In other news:

  • Other than linebacker Michael Mauti’s season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery not being related to Mauti’s three torn ACLs in five years at Penn State, Zimmer didn’t give much of an injury update today. Like most coaches, he’s not a big fan of telling the other team where his guys are hurting most. Zimmer did say linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) was “feeling better.” We’ll have the first official injury report of the week later.

Bykowski excited Vikings brought him back home

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 10th at 1:48pm 285384431

On Monday afternoon, Carter Bykowski’s agent called him out of the blue with an offer he wasn’t going to refuse. Not only did an NFL team want to sign him off the 49ers’ practice squad to their active roster, it was the Vikings, whose practice facility is about five minutes down Highway 5 from where Bykowski grew up.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s go home,’” he said today as he prepared for his first practice.

Bykowski is from Eden Prairie, where he played high school football for Mike Grant, the successful son of legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant. He is good friends with Ryan Grant, Bud’s grandson.

“I grew up with Ryan, so he was always around,” Bykowski said of Bud Grant. “He might not recognize me or remember me. I was 240 [pounds] back then.”

After winning two state football titles at Eden Prairie, Bykowski went to college at Iowa State. He initially played tight end there, but the Cyclones transitioned him to offensive tackle. He was a seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2013 and had been on their practice squad for two seasons.

“For offensive linemen, a lot of times it’s a project,” Bykowski said. “I played two and a half years of college at tight end, so I had to put weight on and learn a new position, so that’s kind of come as a project. And now it’s kind of coming full circle here and I’m just ready to get after it.”

Bykowski isn’t sure what his role will be over the next three weeks. The Vikings have lost three starters on the offensive line, but it seems unlikely the team will slot him into a starting role before the season is through. He said he will simply try to impress the coaching staff with his performance in practice, and he hopes by doing that he will put himself in position to earn a spot next spring.

“I’m just coming in here and doing what they tell me to do and trying to get caught up with the offense as fast as I can so if the need be, I’ll be ready for it,” he said.

Knee scope lands Mauti on IR; Eden Prairie's Bykowski signed

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated December 10th at 1:51pm 285369171

Vikings linebacker Michael Mauti was placed on injured reserve because of an arthroscopic knee surgery unrelated to the three torn anterior cruciate ligaments he suffered in five seasons at Penn State, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said earlier today.

Zimmer indicated that the injury wasn’t serious.

“It’s kind of like my kidney stones; it’s minor to somebody else,” Zimmer said. “It was more of  a clean-up kind of thing.”

To replace Mauti on the roster, the Vikings signed offensive tackle Carter Bykowski off San Francisco’s practice squad. Bykowski was a seventh-round pick in 2013 and has been on the 49ers practice squad for two seasons. He is from Eden Prairie, and played college football at Iowa State.

Bykowski is 6-7 and 310 pounds. After playing tight end as a freshman at Iowa State, he redshirted a season while being converted to tackle. He was with the Cyclones for five years (2008-12).

Bykowski won two state football titles at Eden Prairie, and was also a standout on the basketball team before graduating in 2008.


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 49 3rd Qtr
Miami 62
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 2 1st Half 18:52
Hawaii 2
George Washington 7:30 PM
Wichita State
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama


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