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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How aggressive was Mike Zimmer in 2014?

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 7th at 9:22pm 298781541

The eyeball test of Mike Zimmer’s first season with the Vikings suggested that the neophyte head coach was a little bit on the conservative side. As it turns out, the numbers support that.

Our friends at Football Outsiders have released their annual “Aggressiveness Index” to rank how aggressive coaches were in certain game-management situations. Zimmer ranked 20th out of 32.

How is it calculated? It looks at how likely coaches were to go for it in fourth-down situations, excluding “obvious catch-up situations” like trailing late when teams have no choice but to go for it.

According to their charting, Zimmer went for it on seven in the team’s 102 applicable situations. More specifically, he went for it on 4-and-1 in four of 13 situations and 4th-and-2 in two of nine.

The gutsiest fourth-down call Zimmer green-lighted was a tricky fake punt play against the Bears in Week 11. On that play, safety Andrew Sendejo caught a direct snap and ran around left end for 48 yards and a first down. That successful fake set up a Teddy Bridgewater touchdown pass.

The Aggressiveness Index also looked at situations when a drive stalled somewhere between an opponent’s 31- and 37-yard lines. In eight such situations last season, Zimmer didn’t go for it once.

Zimmer was the least aggressive coach in the NFC North in 2014, according to Football Outsiders. Marc Trestman, formerly of the Bears, trailed only Saints coach Sean Payton in the aggressiveness rankings. Jim Caldwell of the Lions was third. And Mike McCarthy of the Packers ranked 10th.

Perhaps the fact that Zimmer had a young team, including a young quarterback, led to him being a little cautious on fourth down. We will see if Zimmer gambles more this upcoming season.

Peterson set to meet with NFL on Tuesday

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 6th at 7:16pm 298764661

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at last month’s owners meetings that he wanted to meet with Adrian Peterson before the Vikings running back was up for reinstatement. It turns out that the meeting will take place this week.

A league source confirmed that Peterson will meet with the NFL on Tuesday regarding his potential reinstatement.

Peterson is still eligible for reinstatement on April 15, Goodell said at the owners meetings.

Among the things that Goodell expected of Peterson when Peterson was suspended in November was to stay out of legal trouble and meet with a league-assigned psychiatrist to design a counseling and therapy program. There have been no issues with the first part, but it is unclear if Peterson’s efforts to meet the second part have been enough for Goodell to deem them satisfactory.

If and when Peterson is reinstated, the Vikings expect him to be a member of the team in 2015.

The offseason workout program begins two weeks from today, but the start of it is voluntary (Peterson does have a $250,000 workout bonus in his contract, though). The mandatory minicamp in June would be the first time he is contractually obligated to show up at Winter Park.

The NFL Network first reported that Peterson’s meeting with the league would take place Tuesday.

Vikings bring in competition for long snapper Loeffler

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 3rd at 11:13pm 298608801

The Vikings are expected to sign long snapper Kevin McDermott, a league source confirmed.

McDermott will compete with longtime Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler to snap for the team in 2015. Last month, Loeffler re-signed with a deal that included $300,000 in guaranteed money.

McDermott, 25, is entering his third NFL season. He has snapped in 23 career games.

Undrafted out of UCLA in 2013, he snapped for the 49ers in 2013 and joined the Ravens midway through the 2014 after their long snapper, Morgan Cox, suffered a season-ending injury. Then after suiting up for seven games for the Ravens, McDermott hurt his elbow, ending his season, too.

Yahoo! Sports first reported this afternoon that the Vikings planned to sign McDermott.

A not-so-complete list of Vikings' pre-draft interest

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 8th at 10:01am 298604811

With the 2015 NFL draft looming on April 30, the Vikings have been busy doing their homework on draft prospects. Here is a list of their interactions, reported by us or others, with certain prospects. Note that this is far from a complete list, as there are surely meetings the Vikings have kept quiet.

Quarterback:

Devin Gardner, QB/WR, Michigan: East West Shrine Game meeting

Running back:

Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State: Pro day meeting

David Cobb, RB, Minnesota: NFL combine meeting

David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa: Winter Park visit

Zach Zenner, RB, South Dakota State: East West Shrine Game meeting

Wide receiver:

Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn: NFL combine meeting

Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland: Pro day meeting

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri: Winter Park visit

Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State: Senior Bowl meeting

Devante Parker, WR, Louisville: NFL combine meeting

Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: NFL combine meeting

Tight end:

Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville: NFL combine meeting

Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota: Winter Park visit

Offensive line:

Jamon Brown, OT, Louisville: East West Shrine Game meeting

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: Winter Park visit

Shaq Mason, G, Georgia Tech: Senior Bowl meeting

A.J. McCann, G, South Carolina: Winter Park visit

Terry Poole, OT, San Diego State: East West Shrine Game meeting

Defensive line:

Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson: NFL combine meeting

Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky: NFL combine meeting and pro day meeting

Dante Fowler, DE, Florida: NFL combine meeting

Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska: Pro day meeting, Winter Park visit

Marcus Hardison, DT, Arizona State: Pro day meeting and Winter Park visit

Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State: Winter Park visit

Za’Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky: East West Shrine Game meeting

Lynden Trail, DE, Norfolk State: Winter Park visit

Linebacker:

Stephone Anthony, MLB, Clemson: Pro day meeting

Paul Dawson, MLB, TCU: Winter Park visit

Benardrick McKinney, MLB, Mississippi State: NFL combine meeting, Winter Park visit

Denzel Perryman, MLB, Miami: NFL combine meeting

Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington: NFL combine meeting and Winter Park visit

Defensive back:

Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas: NFL combine meeting

Anthony Harris, S, Virginia: Winter Park visit

Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut: Pro day meeting

Marcus Peters, CB, Washington: Winter Park visit

Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State: Winter Park visit

Josh Shaw, CB, USC: East West Shrine Game meeting

Cedric Thompson, S, Minnesota: Winter Park visit

Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State: Winter Park visit

Vikings' offseason workout dates announced

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 3rd at 8:58am 298501881

The NFL has revealed when each of its 32 teams will begin their offseason workout programs.

The Vikings, because they have an incumbent coach in Mike Zimmer, were allowed to begin their voluntary workout program as early as April 20 at Winter Park. And they will do just that.

They will hold voluntary on-field workouts at their facility May 26-28, June 2-4 and June 8-11.

Their mandatory minicamp is June 16-18. That will be the first time that disgruntled running back Adrian Peterson is contractually obligated to show up, assuming the NFL reinstates him by then.

Presumably, the Vikings will also have a rookie minicamp somewhere in there. Teams typically hold those a weekend or two after the NFL draft. So it should be the second or third weekend in May.

Fans aren’t allowed to attend the workouts, but we’ll be sure to churn out quality coverage for you.

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Chicago WSox - LP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Soria 2
San Diego - WP: J. Shields 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: B. Schlitter 4
Philadelphia - LP: S. O Sullivan 2 FINAL
Washington - WP: M. Scherzer 7
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 6
Atlanta - WP: C. Martin 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Cecil 7
Miami - LP: B. Hand 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 4
Baltimore - LP: B. Matusz 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: K. Uehara 3
NY Yankees - WP: D. Betances 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Jepsen 4
LA Angels - WP: C. Ramos 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 3
Cleveland 2 Top 10th Inning
Minnesota 2
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 4 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Wacha 6
Colorado 1 Top 4th Inning
Los Angeles 3
Texas 1 Bottom 4th Inning
Seattle 0
Arizona 3 Bottom 3rd Inning
San Francisco 0
Ottawa 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 2 2nd Prd 5:44
Nashville 2
Calgary 0 2nd Prd 14:10
Vancouver 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2

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