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.
The Vikings have signed running back Henry Josey off the Jaguars practice squad.
Josey, 23, signed with the Eagles this spring as a rookie free agent after going undrafted. The Eagles released him at the end of the preseason even though he ranked second among all players with 225 rushing yards. He would soon join the Jaguars practice squad.
Josey, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, had a productive college career at Missouri, though a severe knee injury ended his 2011 season early and prevented him from suiting up for the Tigers in 2012. He returned in 2013 to rush for 1,166 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“We liked him coming out of college,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “We felt like he was one of the better running backs on a practice squad that we could [bring] in, take a look at, see his skill level and kind of go from there.”
The Vikings had an open roster spot and a need for a third back after waiving Ben Tate yesterday.
The Vikings have also signed rookie linebacker Justin Anderson to their practice squad.
Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— The Vikings were snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting this year.
— The Vikings waived goodbye to RB Ben Tate yesterday.
— Our Mark Craig handed out some end-of-season awards.
— The Vikings made history Sunday, but not in a good way.
— Where would the Vikings pick if the NFL draft were today?
TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY
The fact that my teammate @EversonGriffen wasn’t selected to the pro bowl in my mind is a travesty!!! Yeah I said it!
— Brian Robison (@Brian_Robison) December 24, 2014
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
— Former Vikings DE Jared Allen thinks he has plenty left to give.
— Bears OG Kyle Long will return to the lineup this weekend.
— Bears DT Ego Ferguson is happy Lions C Dominic Raiola got suspended.
— Mel Tucker says his Bears defense is not where it needs to be.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
The Vikings are sticking with their standard schedule on Christmas Eve. Head coach Mike Zimmer and QB Teddy Bridgewater will talk after the morning walkthrough and practice is at 12:50 p.m.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
The last time and the only other time the Vikings did not have a single player selected to the Pro Bowl was 1983. So what was up with those Vikings? They finished fourth in the division at 8-8 that season and legendary coach Bud Grant stepped down at its end (only to return a year later).
For the first time since 1983, the Vikings did not have a player selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Vikings had a pair of strong candidates in defensive end Everson Griffen and safety Harrison Smith, but they were edged out by other top performers at their positions in voting done by fans, coaches and fellow players.
In his first season as a starter, Griffen ranks eighth in the NFL with 12 sacks through 15 games and also has recorded 51 tackles. But he was not one of the six defensive ends selected.
Smith, meanwhile, is tied for fifth in the NFL with five interceptions and his three sacks are tied for the most among defensive backs. But six other safeties were picked.
While no Vikings made the Pro Bowl through the voting process, there is a chance that Griffen, Smith or another Vikings player could later be selected as an alternate.
Last season, the Vikings had two Pro Bowl representatives in running back Adrian Peterson and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson. But Patterson, a Pro Bowl alternate, was the only one who played in the game.
The Vikings have waived running back Ben Tate after an unproductive month with the team.
The Vikings claimed Tate last month after he had been waived by the Browns. He was active for all five games with the Vikings, but only played in three of them. He rushed for 38 yards on 13 carries.
Tate not play in Sunday’s 37-35 loss to the Dolphins. Matt Asiata got the start again, rushing for 58 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Joe Banyard backed Asiata up, rushing for 23 on five.
Tate had a successful run with the Texans as the backup to Arian Foster and joined the Browns as a free agent this spring. He lost his starting job to a pair of rookies in Cleveland, though, and was cut.
With star back Adrian Peterson in limbo and Asiata and rookie Jerick McKinnon dealing with injuries, the Vikings took a flyer on Tate, with these last few weeks serving as an extended tryout.
He had received lukewarm praise from the coaching staff and limited opportunities in recent weeks, though, so the Vikings waiving him is a not a surprise. The roster move will not affect the salary cap.
Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.
112 — games since the last time a Mike Zimmer defense allowed 493-plus total yards.
On Monday, the first-year Vikings coach was still irked about how his defense played in the 37-35 loss to the Dolphins, and rightfully so. The Dolphins scored touchdowns on four straight drives in the second half to erase a double-digit deficit. Led by 396 passing yards from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins produced 493 yards of total offense, the most the Vikings had allowed all season. It was also the most total yards a Mike Zimmer defense had allowed in game since Dec. 30, 2007, Zimmer’s final game in his only season as defensive coordinator of the sinking-ship Falcons.
12 — games this season in which the Vikings have allowed 100 or more rushing yards.
The Dolphins did most of their damage through the air Sunday, but they also rumbled for 116 yards on the ground. That’s nothing new for the Vikings. In 12 of their 15 games this season, they’ve allowed 100 or more rushing yards, including in six of their past seven games. The Vikings now rank 25th in the NFL in rushing defense, which cannot sit well with Zimmer, who like most defensive coaches takes pride in stopping the run. In Zimmer’s six years in Cincinnati, the Bengals never finished in the bottom 10 in run defense, and under his watch they ranked as high as fifth, in 2013.
four — straight games with a completion percentage over 70 for Teddy Bridgewater.
I wrote about Bridgewater’s accuracy in this space a week ago, and I’m going to do it again today because not many of his passes have hit the ground in recent weeks. In each of his past four games, the rookie QB has completed at least 70.4 percent of his passes. Against the Lions in Week 15, he completed 31 of 41 attempts. Against the Dolphins, he connected on 19 of 26, and that’s not accounting for drops. His completion percentage has risen to 64.2, putting him closer to Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie record of 66.4 percent. Catching Big Ben by Sunday will be tough, though.
117 — receiving yards given up in coverage Sunday by cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.
Munnerlyn has had an up-and-down season in his first season in Minnesota, and Sunday’s game might have been the low point. Munnerlyn was targeted a season-high 10 times, according to Pro Football Focus, and allowed a season-high eight receptions for 117 yards, also a season high. He was twice beat for 40-plus-yard gains on long Dolphins touchdown drives. Only six NFL cornerbacks have allowed a higher catch rate than Munnerlyn’s 69.7, but then again, 35 corners have been targeted more often, which also says something. He has been OK, but he can play better.
one — NFL teams that have won on a go-ahead safety in the final minute of regulation.
After the Dolphins stunned the Vikings late in regulation when Dolphins defensive end Terrence Fede blocked a punt that resulted in the game-winning safety, I asked defensive end Everson Griffen if he had ever seen a game decided by a safety before. Nope. That’s probably because it’s a pretty rare occurrence. Teams have won with safeties in overtime before, but according to Elias, the Dolphins were the first team to score a game-winning safety in the final minute of regulation. It was another wild finish for the Vikings, who have experienced a bunch these past two seasons.
|Buffalo||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|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|
|NY Jets||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|New Orleans||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Carolina||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Detroit||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Oakland||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Arizona||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|St. Louis||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/28/14 7:30 PM|
|TBA||1/3/15 2:00 AM|
|TBA||1/3/15 2:00 AM|
|New Orleans||7:00 PM|
|New York||9:00 PM|
|NY Islanders||6:00 PM|
|New Jersey||6:00 PM|
|San Jose||9:00 PM|
|UNC-Wilmington||63||2nd Half 9:59|
|Georgia State||51||2nd Half 8:47|
|Jacksonville St||6||1st Half 10:40|
|Kentucky||10||1st Half 11:05|
|Northern Ky||2:00 PM|
|Santa Clara||3:00 PM|
|San Francisco||5:00 PM|
|Wright State||6:00 PM|
|Tennessee St||7:30 PM|
|Kennesaw St||8:00 PM|
|Colorado State||8:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Wayland Baptist||8:05 PM|
|Bristol University||8:05 PM|
|Sacramento St||8:05 PM|
|Utah Valley U|
|Southern Utah||9:00 PM|
|SD Christian||9:00 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Cincinnati||7||2nd Qtr 0:41|
|(15) Arizona State||7||1st Qtr 9:22|
|Boston College||3:30 PM|
|(25) Nebraska||7:00 PM|
|Texas A&M||12/29/14 1:00 PM|
|Oklahoma||12/29/14 4:30 PM|
|Arkansas||12/29/14 8:00 PM|
|Notre Dame||12/30/14 2:00 PM|
|(13) Georgia||12/30/14 5:45 PM|
|Maryland||12/30/14 9:00 PM|
|(9) Ole Miss||12/31/14 11:30 AM|
|(21) Boise State||12/31/14 3:00 PM|
|(8) Miss State||12/31/14 7:00 PM|
|(10) Georgia Tech|
|(19) Auburn||1/1/15 11:00 AM|
|(7) Michigan State||1/1/15 11:30 AM|
|(16) Missouri||1/1/15 12:00 PM|
|(2) Florida State||1/1/15 4:00 PM|
|(5) Ohio State||1/1/15 7:30 PM|
|Houston||1/2/15 11:00 AM|
|Iowa||1/2/15 2:20 PM|
|(11) Kansas State||1/2/15 5:45 PM|
|Washington||1/2/15 9:15 PM|
|East Carolina||1/3/15 11:00 AM|
|SMU||28||2nd Half 12:43|
|St Marys-CA||4:00 PM|
|San Diego||7:00 PM|