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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Zimmer focusing on football, reflects on Patriots loss

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 15th at 4:27pm 275193381

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer deferred all questions regarding running back Adrian Peterson to general manager Rick Spielman, who spoke before him on Monday.

Zimmer wanted to keep his focus on the dismal performance against the Patriots, losing 30-7 on Sunday, and the Vikings matchup against the Saints in Week 3.

“My dream is still to take this football team and this organization to where we want to go,” Zimmer said. “I can’t let the so called distraction or things like this that we’re dealing with today affect my focus and trying to get this football team better. I’ve worked an awful long time to get to this position where I have the opportunity to do the things that we have the opportunity to do. I’m going to keep trying to do my best.”

The Vikings reinstated special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who was suspended two games for anti-gay comments made during the 2012 season. The organization had the option to shortened the ban from three games if Priefer cooperated with some of their demands, including sensitivity training.

“I’m proud that Mike did the things that he had to do,” Zimmer said. “I’m proud that we didn’t ruin a guy’s career because he made a mistake. I’m glad that we were able to stand by him. I appreciate all of his hard work and the things that he’s done during these two weeks.”

Zimmer also touched on the lingering issues involving offensive tackle Matt Kalil’s performance. He struggled, allowing two quarterback sacks and two quarterback hurries according to Pro Football Focus. Kalil also blew his assignment on a blocked field goal that defensive end Chandler Jones deflected and ran 58 yards for a touchdown.

“The guy he went up against yesterday, [Jones] probably went to Canton yesterday,” Zimmer said. He had a great game. He blocked a field goal, scored a touchdown, but Matt is still working on some things. We talked a little bit this morning about some things. He’s going to have to continue to get better. We’re going to have to get him better, and we expect him to get better.”

Zimmer didn’t feel cornerback Xavier Rhodes dealt with confidence issues after his performance on Sunday. He was called multiple times for penalties.

“Obviously we don’t want penalties defensively, but the good thing is if you want to take a positive out of that is we’re pretty darn close to all the receivers in those situations,” Zimmer said. “We’ve got to keep perfecting the technique of not only being in the right place and contesting catches but not committing fouls.”

Rick Spielman, Vikings justify reinstating Adrian Peterson

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 16th at 6:27am 275173461

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman spoke for about 12 minutes to the media on Monday about the team’s decision to reinstate running back Adrian Peterson.

Spielman said the Vikings will lean on the legal process with Peterson, who is charged with one count of injury to a child in Montgomery County (Texas).

“I understand this is a difficult thing to handle, but we feel strongly as an organization that this is disciplining a child,” Spielman said. “Whether it’s an abusive situation or not, whether he went too far disciplining, we feel strongly that that is the court’s decision to make.”

Spielman said the team did not have all the information regarding Peterson’s situation on Friday but gathered more evidence over the weekend. They concluded that Peterson should practice this week and play on Sunday against the Saints.

The Vikings opted to reinstate Peterson after previous incidents regarding less prominent players brought different actions from the organization. Cornerback Chris Cook was suspended with pay in 2011 after he was charged with felony domestic assault by strangulation. Cornerback A.J. Jefferson was released by the team hours after he was arrested for domestic violence last year.

“It has nothing to do with him as a football player,” Spielman said. “It has to do based purely on the facts that we have that have been presented to us.”

Spielman said he did not know in June about Peterson’s situation, which occurred on or around May 18 according to the indictment. Peterson talked to a grand jury and two police authorities without a lawyer about the matter before he was finally indicted on September 11.

“When you look at the photos, the photos are disturbing,” Spielman said. “I understand that, but to be clear, any matter that’s involving the child is very important to this organization. But we also think it’s important that he goes through the process legally.”

Jerome Felton supports Peterson, discusses childhood discipline

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 15th at 3:06pm 275161401

Vikings fullback Jerome Felton was among the many players in the locker room that came out in support of running back Adrian Peterson’s reinstatement on Monday, but he was also asked about Peterson’s choice of discipline.

Peterson has been charged with one count of injury to a child, allegedly using a switch to whip his child as a form of punishment.

“I’m from the South, so I probably got it a little worse than that,” Felton said. “I guess people have different opinions, and you’ll have to judge for yourself. But yes, I’ve probably had it a couple times. I’m from the South so maybe it’s a little more common down there than up here.”

The Madisonville, Tenn. native was then asked what impact it had on his life.

“I feel like I’m a better person for it,” Felton said. “I had direction under my family. My mother cared about me a lot, and I know people that didn’t have parents that cared and didn’t discipline them that turned out a lot different than I did. It’s a personal judgment; some people will like it, some people won’t, but that’s on them.”

Felton said he found out about Peterson’s return on Twitter, but he hasn’t spent much time on the social media site. Felton posted this tweet this morning.

“I haven’t been on Twitter that much lately, because I know with social media how it is these days,” Felton said. “It gets pretty rough out there.

“It’s a lot different world than what it was 10 years ago or for when I even got in the league seven years ago. It’s contributed a lot, but at the same time, we need to focus on us.”

Week 2 snap counts: Vikings get McKinnon some reps while sparing Asiata late

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated September 15th at 1:43pm 275160481

You knew the Vikings lost by 23 points, but did you know strong safety Robert Blanton — the same Robert Blanton that few of us thought would win the starting job — is the only guy to play every defensive snap through two games? Whether it really matters is another matter. But here is our snap-count breakdown for Sunday’s 30-7 loss to the Patriots. There were 66 offensive snaps and 65 defensive snaps. Here goes:

RUNNING BACKS: In case you missed it, Adrian Peterson didn’t play. Matt Asiata played 68 percent of the snaps (45), while Jerick McKinnon played 32 percent (21) and Joe Banyard 2 percent (1). McKinnon’s reps were significantly higher than last week’s three reps, for obvious reasons. But he had only three reps through three quarters, so there’s still something that’s holding him back from being more of a presence when the outcome is still in question. The Vikings spent a third-round pick on him. They need to carve out some sort of change-of-pace role for him. Jerome Felton played only five snaps (eight percent). That was down from last week when he played 29 percent (17).

QUARTERBACK: By now, we all know who played 100 percent of the snaps and who would like to have back four of them (Matt Cassel). It made no sense to put Teddy Bridgewater into a lopsided game against a team that knew the Vikings had to pass. It also makes sense to give Cassel a longer leash than one game. So starting him on Sunday is the right call. But he did put himself one step closer to the Bridgewater era.

OFFENSIVE LINE: All five starters — Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt — played all 66 snaps. The Vikings did not use Joe Berger as an extra tackle, as they did at St. Louis. They did that to handle the Rams’ pass rush on the road. As experienced as this line is together, the 2.8-yard average per carry was a disappointment with or without Peterson.

RECEIVERS, TIGHT ENDS: Cordarrelle Patterson led this group with 91 percent of the snaps (60), proving once again that Norv Turner is no Bill Musgrave, just in case you were still wondering. Patterson, however, didn’t get a carry, but a fake to him did help clear the way for Asiata’s 25-yard touchdown catch. Among receivers, Greg Jennings was next with 85 percent of the snaps (56), followed by Jarius Wright’s 56 percent (37) and Adam Thielen’s 24 percent (16). Wright’s workload increased from 36 percent in Week 1. He’s a sneaky deep threat, but not when he’s double covered, as Cassel found out the hard way early on Sunday. Among tight ends, Kyle Rudolph played 88 percent (58), while Rhett Ellison played 35 percent (23) and MarQuies  Gray played 12 percent (8).

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Blanton played 100 percent of the snaps (65) and 76 percent of the special teams snaps to tie linebacker Anthony Barr with a team-high 76 snaps. Free safety Harrison Smith missed only one snap (98 percent), while cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn both missed only two snaps (97 percent). Cornerback Josh Robinson followed with 38 percent of the snaps (25), while safety Andrew Sendejo played just one snap. Rhodes’ snap count is the one that stands out, considering he went into the game listed as questionable with a groin injury. The Patriots picked on him effectively, drawing three penalties in the third quarter, two of which were accepted.

LINEBACKERS: Barr continued to show the kind of versatility that’s rare for a rookie. He and veteran Chad Greenway both played 100 percent of the snaps. Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, a starter, played 58 percent of the snaps (38), while Gerald Hodges played only nine percent (six) and Audie Cole played two percent (1).

DEFENSIVE LINE: A week ago, the Vikings had six defensive linemen play between 73 percent and 43 percent of the snaps. Of course, they also won by 28. Sunday, the Vikings had four defensive linemen play between 89 percent and 57 percent. End Brian Robison played 89 percent (58), while end Everson Griffen followed with 86 percent (56), nose tackle Linval Joseph 82 percent (53) and tackle Sharrif Floyd 57 percent (37). Like Rhodes’ snaps, Floyd’s 37 reps were encouraging because he also went into the game listed as questionable because of a shoulder injury. Rookie Shamar Stephen played 34 percent (22) in what is an underrated role that’s being carved out for him. End Corey Wootton and tackle/end Tom Johnson both played 25 percent (16 apiece).

SPECIAL TEAMS: Marcus Sherels and Shaun Prater both played 43 percent of the special teams snaps (12). Prater was inactive the previous week.

Adrian Peterson releases a statement

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 15th at 3:07pm 275158681
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has released the following statement to the Star Tribune:

My attorney has asked me not to discuss the facts of my pending case. I hope you can respect that request and help me honor it. I very much want the public to hear from me but I understand that it is not appropriate to talk about the facts in detail at this time. Nevertheless, I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child.
 
I never wanted to be a distraction to the Vikings organization, the Minnesota community or to my teammates. I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.
 
I voluntarily appeared before the grand jury several weeks ago to answer any and all questions they had. Before my grand jury appearance, I was interviewed by two different police agencies without an attorney. In each of these interviews I have said the same thing, and that is that I never ever intended to harm my son. I will say the same thing once I have my day in court. 
 
I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen.  I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child. I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate.
 
I have learned a lot and have had to reevaluate how I discipline my son going forward. But deep in my heart I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man.  I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I ever make.
 
I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that’s what I tried to do that day.
 
I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue and what they think about my conduct. Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person.

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