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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Vikings' Cassel throws two interceptions in first half

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 14th at 1:18pm 275055051

Matt Cassel started today’s game against the Patriots with a sharp opening drive, completing all four of his passes on the drive for 75 yards and a 25-yard touchdown pass to tailback Matt Asiata.

But he has cooled off considerably since then, completing just four of his past nine passes for 17 yards and throwing a pair of interceptions as the Vikings have fallen behind, 17-7, to the visitors.

The first interception came in the first quarter, when Cassel tried to connect with wide receiver Jarius Wright on a deep ball. Wright got inside positioning on cornerback Kyle Arrington, but when Cassel led Wright toward the middle of the field, safety Devin McCourty ranged to pick off the pass. He returned it 60 yards to the Minnesota 1-yard line, setting up Steven Ridley’s touchdown run.

In the second quarter, Cassel threw another pick to cornerback Darrelle Revis. The quarterback had plenty of time to scan the field, but he appeared to lock onto wide receiver Greg Jennings, who is still looking for his first catch of the day and the 500th of his career. Revis was running stride for stride with Jennings and made an easy interception when Cassel’s pass got away from him.

The Patriots would cash in that interception for a touchdown, too, and lead as halftime nears.

Cris Carter speaks on Adrian Peterson

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 14th at 1:40pm 275051251

NFL Hall of Famer and Vikings Ring of Honor wide receiver Cris Carter emotionally touched on running back Adrian Peterson’s off-the-field incident Sunday morning.

On ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, the animated Carter did not condone the actions of Peterson, who was charged with one count of injury to a child after striking his 4-year-old son with a switch in May.

“My mom did the best job she could do raising seven kids by herself, but there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that I’ve learned that my mom was wrong,” Carter said. “This is the 21st century; my mom was wrong. She did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me. And I promised my kids I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make them do what you want them to do.”

Carter continued on, praising the Vikings for deactivating Peterson in the home opener against the Patriots.

“The only thing I’m proud about is the team that I played for – they did the right thing,” Carter said. “Take him off the field. We’re in a climate right now where I don’t care what it is, take him off the dag-gone field. Because, you know what, as a man, that’s the only thing we really respect. We don’t respect no women, we don’t respect no kids. The other thing Roger [Goodell] and them do, take him off the field because they respect that.”

Here’s the entire clip:

Rhodes and Floyd active for Vikings-Patriots

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated September 14th at 11:09am 275050101

Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd are active for today’s game.

Rhodes and Floyd were both injured in the Week 1 win over the Rams. Rhodes tweaked his groin and Floyd hurt his shoulder. Both were listed as questionable on the final injury report on Friday.

They will suit up against the Patriots, but it’s unclear how much they will play, particularly Floyd.

Running back Adrian Peterson is officially inactive after his legal issues came to light on Friday. Matt Asiata, whom the coaching staff appears to trust in pretty much every situation, will get the start. Rookie Jerick McKinnon and practice-squad call-up Joe Banyard will back Asiata up.

Also inactive for the Vikings are quarterback Christian Ponder, outside linebackers Michael Mauti and Brandon Watts, guard David Yankey, wide-out Rodney Smith and defensive end Scott Crichton.

Staring center Ryan Wendell and outside linebacker Jamie Collins are out for the Patriots. Also inactive for the visitors are running back James White, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, and defensive ends Michael Buchanan and Zach Moore.

Moore, who made his NFL debut for the Patriots last week, was a college standout at Concordia.

Craig's Week 2 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated September 14th at 6:57am 275044011

What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

CRAIG’S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Seahawks (1-0)
Why:
They’re so clearly the best team that, in this league, they’re bound to lose today at San Diego. They’re a well-rested 6-point favorite. But pick ‘em at your own risk.

THE REST

2. 49ers (1-0); 3. Broncos (1-0); 4. Falcons (1-0); 5. Eagles (1-0); 6. Cardinals (1-0); 7. Dolphins (1-0); 8. Saints (0-1); 9. Packers (0-1); 10. Bills (1-0); 11. Patriots (0-1); 12. Bengals (1-0); 13. Ravens (1-1); 14. Lions (1-0).

THE VIKINGS
15. Vikings 1-0 (Last week: 22):
A 28-point road victory in Mike Zimmer’s coaching debut seems like a long, long, long time ago. Adrian Peterson’s indictment on a charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child after he punished his 4-year-old son by beating him with a switch came five days later. The Vikings deactivated him for today’s game and, frankly, where the Vikings rank right now seems even more trivial than it normally does.

THE REST OF THE REST
16. Steelers (1-1); 17. Panthers (1-0); 18. Colts (0-1); 19. Chargers (0-1); 20. Titans (1-0); 21. Jets (1-0); 22. Texans (1-0); 23. Buccaneers (0-1); 24. Browns (0-1); 25. Jaguars (0-1); 26. Redskins (0-1); 27. Raiders (0-1); 28. Giants (0-1); 29. Bears (0-1); 30. Cowboys (0-1); 31. Chiefs (0-1).

WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Rams (0-1):
This is what happens when you wind up placing too much trust and money in a fragile franchise quarterback. By the third quarter of your first game of the season, you find yourself down by two scores and sending Austin Dillon onto the field for the first snap of his NFL career. Then you lose by four touchdowns in your home opener.

THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE HOPEFUL

1, The defense is unpredictable and difficult to read at the line of scrimmage. Even a guy like Tom Brady will have to hesitate at least a little to try and figure things out. That might be enough time for a pass rush that racked up five sacks in Week 1.

2, Cordarrelle Patterson has scored a touchdown in six consecutive games. He’s scored a rushing touchdown of 35 yards or more in three straight games. People know he’s coming and apparently they can’t do anything about it.

3, Blair Walsh made a 52-yard field goal in the opener, snapping a streak of three regular-season misses from that distance and two more this preseason. Granted, it came inside and today’s game is outside. But it should be enough to get Walsh’s head straight.

THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE NERVOUS

1, Peterson was the perfect weapon for a Patriots defense that wore down and was gashed for 191 yards rushing a week ago. He’s gone and almost certain to be suspended by a Commissioner who is under siege. We’ll let this case play out, but initial reaction to the reported evidence so far will make it awfully difficult to stand in Adrian’s corner.

2, The Patriots are amazingly resilient. Even when their roster isn’t dynasty material (other than the QB and the head coach), they don’t stay down. The stat that leaps off the page and smacks you in the forehead is 34-4. That’s their record following a loss since 2003. They’ve had just four two-game losing streaks in 11 seasons. And they’ve had no three-game losing streaks.

3, The Vikings have had only one turnover in four preseason games and one regular season game. But you have to wonder if the loss of Peterson will create a feeling of having to do too much. QB Matt Cassel is a level-headed sort, but if he presses in the least, the Patriots will pounce, starting with a guy named Revis.

THE PICKS

VIKINGS
Patriots minus-3 at Vikings. The pick: Rams 21, Vikings 17.

It’s hard picking against the Vikings after the way their defense opened the Mike Zimmer era. It’s also hard picking against them when one picked them to lose a game they won by 28 (thanks for the emails and we love you, too). But it’s harder to pick the Patriots to lose two in a row, especially against a team now missing its best player.
Last week: Vikings plus-3 ½ at Rams. The pick: Rams 21, Vikings 17. The final: Vikings 34, Rams 6. Record:
0-1.

UPSET SPECIAL

Jaguars plus-6 at Redskins: The pick: Jaguars 24, Redskins 23.

Why: After last week, it seems the Jaguars might not be quite as bad as we thought they were and the Redskins might be even worse than we thought they were. Last week: Giants plus-5 ½ at Lions: Giants 27, Lions 24. The final: Lions 35, Giants 14. Record: 0-1.

THE REST
Lions plus-2 ½ at Carolina: Panthers by 3.

Dolphins minus-1 at Bills: Dolphins by 3.

Cowboys plus-3 ½ at Titans: Titans by 7.

Cardinals minus-2 ½ at Giants: Cardinals by 3.

Saints minus-6 ½ at Browns: Saints by 10.

Falcons plus-5 at Bengals: Bengals by 3.

Rams plus-5 ½ at Buccaneers: Bucs by 10.

Seahawks minus-6 at Chargers: Seahawks by 7.

Texans minus-3 at Raiders: Raiders by 1.

Jets plus-8 ½ at Packers: Packers by 10.

Chiefs plus-12 ½ at Broncos: Broncos by 10.

Bears plus-7 at 49ers: 49ers by 3.

Eagles plus-3 at Colts: Colts by 6.

Record: Last week/overall: 6-9/6-9. Versus spread: Last week/overall: 4-11/4-11.

Vikings sign RB Joe Banyard from practice squad

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 14th at 8:43am 275014701

The Vikings signed running back Joe Banyard from the practice squad for Sunday’s home opener against the Patriots. The team waived fullback Zach Line to make room on the active roster for Banyard, who will be the team’s third running back behind Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon.

The move occurs a day after the Vikings deactivated Adrian Peterson, who has been charged with one count of injury to a child in Texas. Peterson was booked in Montgomery County jail around 1 a.m. Saturday and released on $15,000 bond.

The Vikings cut Banyard shortly after the final preseason game to trim their roster down to 53 players. Banyard, in his second season, signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers. He had 36 carries for 212 rushing yards in four preseason games. The 25-year-old had an impressive outing in the preseason finale against the Titans, gaining 111 rushing yards on 18 carries.

This will be Banyard’s fourth game on an active roster.  He was on the Vikings active roster for the final three weeks last season with injuries to Peterson and running back Toby Gerhart, recording one reception for 11 yards. Banyard made his debut on Dec. 15, 2013 against the Eagles.

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Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Miami - WP: S. Dyson 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Familia 5
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 0 FINAL
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Cincinnati - LP: P. Villarreal 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: H. Rondon 1
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Petricka 3 FINAL
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Cleveland - LP: Z. McAllister 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 3
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: C. Fien 6
Los Angeles - WP: J. Wright 11 FINAL
Colorado - LP: C. Bergman 3
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: W. Miley 6
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Philadelphia - LP: J. Williams 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 1
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