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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Greenway gets wrist checked out, Peterson excused

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated August 20th at 4:30pm 272024051

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said a few minutes ago that outside linebacker Chad Greenway, who played with a fractured wrist a season ago, underwent tests on one of his wrists. The x-rays and the magnetic resonance imaging exam apparently showed nothing major, but Zimmer plans to “back him down a little bit today.”

“He’s got a little wrist,” Zimmer said. “It’s not a big deal. He’s been MRIed and X-rayed and we just don’t want to irritate it more.”

Greenway sprained his right wrist during Week 7 last season and fractured it in two spots the following week. He did not miss a game, though he did exit the team’s Week 14 loss to the Bears early after re-aggravating the injury in overtime.

Asked if it was the same wrist, Zimmer said he thought both wrists bothered Greenway in 2013.

“It’s not broken,” Zimmer added.

Running back Adrian Peterson is not expected to practice today as he was excused by Zimmer to deal with a personal matter.

Defensive end Brian Robison, who missed the past two practices dealing with his own personal matter, was back on the field for walkthrough and will practice this afternoon.

Zimmer said that cornerback Jabari Price, nose tackle Linval Joseph and linebackers Gerald Hodges and Brandon Watts will not practice. He indicated that Watts is dealing with a “lower leg” ailment.

In other news, Zimmer was asked about offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s comments from yesterday when Turner said he was “very disappointed” with Vikings fans booing Christian Ponder.

“Norv can say whatever he wants. I think Christian deserves to be treated like a Viking,” he said.

And while Zimmer isn’t yet disclosing his plan for playing time in Saturday’s preseason game against the Chiefs, he did said that there is a possibility that Ponder, whom the coaching staff all but said would make the 53-man roster out of camp, could play in Saturday night’s game.

“I still like a lot of things that he does. His athletic ability. His intelligence. The way he throws it,” Zimmer said. “I keep seeing [people say] he doesn’t have a good arm. That’s wrong, too. He’s got a good arm. He throws the ball beautifully. He just didn’t make as many plays during OTAs as some of the other guys did.”

Zimmer showing he's no cookie-cutter first-year head coach

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 20th at 12:49pm 272000471

If Mike Zimmer were a used car, most of us would still be kicking his tires and slowly circling him with a discerning eye.

While much is left to learn, we can deduce that he’s no cookie-cutter coach. Maybe it’s his age (58) or personality (firm but not bullying), or both, but he’s certainly comfortable in his own skin. And if the brain under that skin wants to do something that’s not in step with customary NFL thinking, so be it.

That’s an admirable form of confidence in a person who has never been a head coach before.

Zimmer clearly is in complete control and has the full attention of his players. But unlike a lot of new head coaches, he hasn’t altered his personality to achieve that end result. In training camp, he didn’t choose to break the players physically while tapping his badge and putting his boot to their necks.

When the preseason started, he played his starters for the entire first half of the second preseason game. Then he played his second quarterback for the entire second half. It was strange, but exciting and potentially productive that Zimmer apparently doesn’t believe in mop-up duties in the preseason.

Now, we’re days away from the third preseason game. Most, if not every other coach, always talks about this being the most critical preseason game. The media follows with stories about how this is the “dress rehearsal.” This is the game when the coaches game plan and the starters – even some superstars such as Adrian Peterson — play into the third quarter.

I asked Zimmer on Monday if he views the third preseason game with a heightened sense of importance.

“Honestly, no,” he said. “This is still a lot about us. We’re going to have a few more sections than we have had the last two weeks with the cards and the scout team work, but it’s still about what we do. We’ll have plenty of time to prepare for St. Louis [the regular season opener] when we get going in there. It’s more about the routine that we are going to do this week, so we get into the in-season schedule routine as opposed to really sitting down and game planning.”

Asked if he’ll game plan at all for Saturday’s game at Kansas City, he said, “About like we did the last two games.

“We look at them on tape and we will watch a little more tape on them than we have watched on the last two games, we’re not going to go in there and double [receiver Dwayne] Bowe. We are going to do what we do.”

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Ponder, Bridgewater vs. Manziel and more

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated August 20th at 10:48am 271988481

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

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— QB Christian Ponder has not been written off by the Vikings coaching staff.

— Jim Souhan thinks QB Teddy Bridgewater has been more poised than Browns QB Johnny Manziel.

— Mark Craig looks at the “points of emphasis” causing more penalties in the preseason.

— WR Jerome Simpson said his meeting with the NFL went great.

— RB Adrian Peterson likely won’t play during the preseason.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

— Lions head coach Jim Caldwell is impressed by QB Matthew Stafford.

— Former Bears LB Tim Shaw has ALS.

— The Packers waived injured TE Colt Lyerla and he will be placed on injured reserve.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings will conclude their walkthrough at 11:10 a.m. and Zimmer’s press conference will be afterwards. Practice will begin at 12:50 p.m. once again.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

While the quarterbacks received the headlines from Saturday’s victory over the Cardinals, the offensive line also made strides in pass protection during the second preseason game. The unit allowed just one sack after giving up six against the Raiders.

Peterson, Zimmer decide All-Day won't include preseason playing time

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 19th at 9:08pm 271899511

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Adrian Peterson have talked about the perennial All-Pro running back’s preseason playing time and have essentially decided what any one of the rest of us schlubs would have.

“I really don’t see the need,” Zimmer said after practice today.

Zimmer didn’t rule it out, but don’t expect Peterson to play Saturday at Kansas City or the following Thursday at Tennessee.

“I doubt it,” Zimmer said. “Adrian and I have talked about it a little bit and I really don’t see the need. We’re grabbing at the ball pretty good. We’re not tackling him or anything. He’s doing a great job with the protections and the routes and obviously he runs really good.

“The only concern you have is he might not have been hit enough. But our guys are grabbing at the ball a lot. They’re punching at the ball as he’s running in there. I talked to him about those things.”

In other news:

  • Defensive end Brian Robison missed his second practice to tend to a personal issue. But Robison rejoined the team this afternoon and will play on Saturday, Zimmer said
  • Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) returned to practice today. His status for Saturday will be determined later this week.
  • Cornerback Shaun Prater (head injury) was cleared and returned to practice today.
  • Receiver Jerome Simpson, who missed yesterday’s practice to attend a meeting at league headquarters concerning his possible suspension, also practiced.
  • Not practicing today because of injuries were cornerback Jabari Price, linebacker Gerald Hodges and linebacker Brandon Watts.
  • Zimmer was asked if the lawsuit settlement with former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe brought a sense of closure in his mind to the situation involving special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. Priefer will serve a three-game suspension — which can be reduced to two games with sensitivity training — because of an anti-gay remark he made to Kluwe in a team setting in 2012. “I honestly have not thought about it very much,” Zimmer said. “I felt like Mike Priefer is a good person and a good coach and a good guy. That’s just how I felt the entire time. So whatever happened legally with the courts and all the other stuff, I’m just a football coach.”
  • Zimmer was asked what his comfort level would be with keeping two quarterbacks. His response: “I don’t see us going with two quarterbacks, if that’s what you’re asking.”

NFL teams told that practice squad will increase to 10 players

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 19th at 3:30pm 271897431

There was good news today for NFL teams looking to establish more depth and fringe players looking for more paychecks.

According to an NFL source, the league sent out a memo today saying the eight-man practice squad has been increased to 10 players.

The Vikings have several young players they like at key spots such as cornerback and offensive line. With the two extra practice squad spots, they, like every other team, will have more options available to develop players.

Players released from the active roster must clear waivers before being placed on the practice squad. They also can be signed to any other team’s 53-man roster.

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