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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Kyle Rudolph recovering from sports hernia surgery

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 29th at 1:53pm 277479901

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said he’s making progress after sports hernia surgery last week. He was in the Vikings locker room on Monday, a week into the recovery process after sitting out on Sunday in the team’s 41-28 victory over the Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium.

Rudolph said the injury initially bothered him during the first week of training camp. There was a tear in the abdominal muscle away from the pelvis, Rudolph said, that he felt on the right side. During the procedure, Rudolph said they went ahead and fixed both sides.

“I’m glad that I was able to get them fixed, move forward and be healthy for this push to the playoffs,” Rudolph said. “I think everybody saw that we have something special going on here yesterday. Me personally watching on TV, I want to get back as soon as possible because I want to be a part of this.”

The Vikings training staff exhausted all their options before deciding on surgery. Rudolph said he’d received treatment throughout the week but felt it wasn’t getting any better on Mondays after games. The Vikings opted not to place him on injured reserve with a designation to return, sidelining him for eight weeks. Rudolph said the training staff believes he can return in five weeks.

It’s the second straight season Rudolph will miss a considerable amount of time due to injury. He was placed on injured reserve last year, playing just eight games after breaking his foot.

“There’s nothing worse than being hurt,” Rudolph said. “When you’re not able to be out there with your teammates, and you’re either watching from the side or watching on tv, it’s hard. At the same time, I knew this was necessary because we tried everything we could to avoid it. I had to get it fixed.

Rudolph received a five-year extension worth $36.5 million in August.

Zimmer 'hopeful' Bridgewater will play; Vikings sign QB to practice squad

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 29th at 3:34pm 277471061

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he’s hopeful rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will play on Thursday against the Packers at Lambeau Field. Bridgewater had an MRI on his sprained ankle right after the game, which Zimmer said came back clean.

“He’s doing a lot better today, so we’ll see,” Zimmer said.

The rookie suffered the ankle injury on a 3rd and goal quarterback scramble from the 2 in the fourth quarter. He remained in the game on 4th and goal but was carted to the locker room during the next offensive series. Christian Ponder replaced Bridgewater and finished the game, sealing the Vikings 41-28 victory over the Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium. Bridgewater returned to the sideline later in the fourth, but he didn’t return in the game.

The Vikings signed quarterback Chandler Harnish, who was the quarterback at Northern Illinois under Gophers head coach Jerry Kill, to the practice squad and released wide receiver Donte Foster as a corresponding move as a precautionary move.

Bridgewater was impressive in his first career start, going 19 of 30 for 317 yards. He’s only the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards without an interception in his first start. Bridgewater also had five carries for 27 yards, including a 13-yard run for his first career touchdown.

“I’ve been saying it for a long time watching him practice and in the preseason games, he just gets the ball out and throws a nice, tight ball,” Zimmer said. “He’s accurate, makes quick decisions.”

Snap count: Robinson's season-high total comes after `questionable' listing

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated September 29th at 11:16am 277455901

Let’s count some snaps from Sunday’s 41-28 victory over the Falcons  and see what some of them mean …

Defensive snaps: 67.

100 percent: Strong safety Robert  Blanton, free safety Harrison Smith, linebacker Anthony Barr and linebacker Gerald Hodges.

Offensive snaps: 76.

100 percent: Center John Sullivan, right guard Vladimir Ducasse, left guard Charlie Johnson, left tackle Matt Kalil.

Team-high snaps: 84 (Sullivan, Ducasse, Kalil)

Most special teams snaps: 20 (Jabari Price, Antone Exum, Andrew Sendejo, Michael Mauti).

DEFENSIVE BACKS:Blanton is the only defensive player not to miss a snap all season (although he did look AWOL with the angle he took on that 48-yard TD run in the third quarter). Other than Blanton and Smith, cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and  Captain Munnerlyn only missed one snap. The BIG NEWS for the defensive backs was Josh Robinson playing a season-high 43 snaps (64 percent) after being listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. It’s big news because the assumption (here, at least) was Robinson would continue a pattern of leaving the field with nagging injuries. But that wasn’t the case. Not only did Robinson play very well, he stayed on the field when needed. He’s come a long way since coach Mike Zimmer referred to him as “the other guy” when asked about injuries during the preseason. Sendejo played one snap at safety.

LINEBACKERS: We knew Barr would play 100 percent. But Hodges playing 100 percent of the snaps in his first start was confirmation that the coaching staff loves this guy’s versatility and athleticism. He fits the defense in every situation and, frankly, could be hard to get off the field once Chad Greenway gets healthy. Greenway might have to share some of the load with Hodges, who sure looks like the starter beyond this season. Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley played a season-low 36 percent of the snaps (24), which is understandable considering the way the Falcons spread teams out.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s shoulder is better. We don’t have to ask him to know that. A week after playing a season-low 39 percent of the snaps, Floyd played a season-high 79 percent (53) on Sunday. That was the third highest total among defensive linemen behind Everson Griffen (63 snaps, 94 percent) and Brian Robison (62, 93). Nose tackle Linval Joseph (46, 69), tackle Tom Johnson (23, 34), tackle Shamar Stephen (12, 18) and end Corey Wootton (9, 13) followed.

OFFENSIVE LINE: The only starter who didn’t play 100 percent of the snaps was right tackle Phil Loadholt, who limped off for one snap and returned. Backup Joe Berger played two snaps as an extra lineman in a goal-line formation. Mike Harris played the one snap that Loadholt missed. Atlanta’s front line isn’t the toughest test in the league by any stretch, but the offensive line deserves the MVP of this game. It was a dominant performance. The best we’ve seen in a long time.

RUNNING BACKS, FULLBACK:Now this breakdown was more like it. Finally, rookie Jerick McKinnon got some extended playing time with a season-high — by far — snap total of 32 (42 percent). Matt Asiata got 44 snaps (58 percent) and fullback Jerome Felton made the most of his 11 snaps (14 percent) with his best game of the year. He flattened a linebacker in the hole, allowing McKinnon to run free on his 55-yard run. For whatever reason, offensive coordinator Norv Turner trusted McKinnon more in this game and the result was a running attack that notched an unexpected 5.5-yard average, 244 yards and four touchdowns.

RECEIVERS, TIGHT ENDS: The big news here is the coaches sure like Chase Ford. Granted, he had been with the team before. But when he was brought back after Kyle Rudolph’s injury, the assumption (at least here) was he might be eased back in. But that wasn’t the case. Ford played 41 snaps (54 percent) while Rhett Ellison played 55 (72 percent). MarQuies Gray played only six snaps (eight percent). At receiver, Greg Jennings led the way with 72 snaps (95 percent). Cordarrelle Patterson (67 snaps, 88 percent), Jarius Wright (40, 53) and Adam Thielen (9, 12) followed. Hey, if you’re looking for something new to complain about after a win, we could start a campaign for Wright to get more playing time. After all, he did have game highs of eight catches and 132 yards while playing slightly less than half the offensive snaps.

QUARTERBACKS: For the second straight week, the Vikings ended the game with their backup quarterback, which means they also were one snap away from having to use Patterson or McKinnon as their emergency QB. You may have heard that Teddy Bridgewater started and played pretty well. He played 66 snaps (87 percent) before leaving the field with an ankle sprain that doesn’t appear to be serious. Christian Ponder played the final 10 snaps and didn’t attempt a pass.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Bridgewater banged up in big win, McKinnon breaks out, more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 29th at 8:57am 277422821

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

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— The Vikings racked up 558 yards of offense while winning QB Teddy Bridgewater’s first start.

— Bridgewater left the game with a sprained ankle and isn’t sure if he can start Thursday.

— Fellow first-round pick Anthony Barr also made a major impact in the win.

— The Vikings offensive line bounced back after a pair of poor performances.

— WR Jarius Wright set a couple of career highs in the win.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

— Former Georgia Southern star Jerick McKinnon gashed the Atlanta defense.

— There is no defending the Falcons defense after yesterday’s performance.

— The Falcons lost three starting offensive linemen in yesterday’s loss.

— The road has not been kind to the Falcons so far this season.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings have little time to enjoy yesterday’s big win. They begin their preparations for Thursday night’s game against the Packers today. Head coach Mike Zimmer is scheduled to be at the podium at 12:15 p.m. and the locker room will be open before the team’s 4:15 p.m. practice.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Bridgewater had without a doubt the best first start that a Vikings rookie has ever had. His 19 completions and 98.9 passer rating were records for a Vikings quarterback making his first NFL start. He was also the first quarterback in franchise history to earn a comeback win in his first start.

Bridgewater (ankle) scheduled for Sunday MRI

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 30th at 12:54am 277390621

Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater isn’t sure about his status for Thursday’s Week 5 matchup against the Packers, but he felt he could’ve returned in the 41-28 victory over the Falcons on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.

The Vikings said Bridgewater suffered a sprained ankle and will get an MRI on Sunday. He sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter on a 3rd and goal quarterback sneak from the 2-yard line. He remained in the game on 4th and goal, but Bridgewater was carted to the locker room as quarterback Christian Ponder took the field on the next offensive series.

Bridgewater returned to the sideline after x-rays came back negative and showed no structural damage.

“I’m going to spend as much time as I can with [head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman and the training staff that we have here,” Bridgewater said. “That will be a decision that they can make.”

Bridgewater said he suffered the injury trying to make a cut and rolled his ankle in a non-contact injury. Ponder finished the game with the Vikings holding a comfortable two-score lead once Bridgewater returned to the sideline.

In his first career start, Bridgewater went 19 of 30 for 317 yards. He also had five carries for 27 yards, including a 13-yard run for his first career NFL touchdown.

“Everything just came naturally as far as the offense and the system that we have here,” Bridgewater said. “The guys did a great job of understanding the terminology and the concepts that we wanted to run today. It’s just a great team effort.”

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