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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Matt Kalil fares better second time against Lions defense

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 15th at 1:55pm 285857671

Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil had one the worst games in his career the first time he faced Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah this season. His performance improved dramatically the second time around in the 16-14 loss at Ford Field on Sunday.

Ansah was held sackless for the first time in three games. Kalil held his own with the Vikings offense neutralizing the Lions pass rush by rolling rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater out of the pocket and incorporating quick passes.

Ansah had a career high 2.5 sacks on Kalil at TCF Bank Stadium in the first contest. He had just a tackle to his name in the stats sheet.

“That was his only stat, so I think I came out of there pretty well,” Kalil said. “He’s a pretty raw player, and he hasn’t even tapped his potential, so I’ll be seeing a lot of him. To play well against him, coming out on top like that, felt pretty good.”

The Vikings reduced their sack total in half in their second, and final, matchup against the Lions. They allowed four sacks with three backup offensive linemen at left guard, Vladimir Ducasse, right guard, Joe Berger, and right tackle, Mike Harris.

“They do a lot of stuff and sometimes they’ll stress the pocket,” Kalil said. “[Ndamukong] Suh was on his game too making some plays, but it’s just different things to help keep those guys off balance.”

Greenway a finalist for NFL Sportsmanship Award

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 16th at 7:03pm 285856091

Outside linebacker Chad Greenway is a finalist for the inaugural NFL Sportsmanship Award.

Each NFL team nominated one of its players for consideration for the award and a panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community, including Warrick Dunn and Curtis Martin, pared down the field from 32 players to eight. The winner will be determined by a vote from current players.

Competing with Greenway for the new award are Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Patriots receiver Matthew Slater, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and Broncos defense end Demarcus Ware.

The winner will be announced during the NFL Honors awards ceremony the night before the Super Bowl, and he will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to the charity of his choice.

Counting Snaps: Lions 16, Vikings 14

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated December 15th at 1:23pm 285854821

Thoughts while counting snaps from Sunday’s 16-14 loss to the Lions at Ford Field …


QUARTERBACK: Teddy Bridgewater 69, Christian Ponder DNP.

Thoughts: Norv Turner’s game plan and Bridgewater’s execution was perfect for a loud road venue against a vicious pass rush that the Vikings’ rag-tag offensive line had no chance of matching up with physically. The heavy dose of five-wide sets out of the shotgun spread the Lions out and enabled Bridgewater to fire quick slants and screens to nullify the pass rush. Turner also threw in  the right amount of plays in which he moved the pocket and rolled Bridgewater away from the blind side. Things were going brilliantly when the Vikings led 14-0 on two long scoring drives before the Lions registered a first down. But then the inevitable rookie moment arrived when Bridgewater let the Lions back into the game by handing them 10 points on interceptions on back-to-back passes. But, overall, as a learning experience, this was a good game for Bridgewater’s development.

OFFENSIVE LINE: LT Matt Kalil 69, LG Vladimir Ducasse 69, C John Sullivan 69, RG Joe Berger, RT Mike Harris 69, Austin Wentworth 2, T Carter Bykowski INA, G David Yankey INA, G Charlie Johnson INA.

Thoughts: Turner did an outstanding job protecting a beat-up line that, even when healthy, can’t match up to the best D-line in football. There were leaks in the line and Bridgewater was sacked four times. But the line held together well enough to win the game with how well the defensive was playing. When the Vikings hold Detroit to 33 points in two games and go 0-2, it’s a pretty good indication of where the offseason priorities will be this year.

RECEIVERS, TIGHT ENDS: WR Greg Jennings 65, WR Charles Johnson 64, TE Kyle Rudolph 61, WR Jarius Wright 44, TE Rhett Ellison 24, WR Cordarrelle Patterson 8, TE Chase Ford 2.

Thoughts: The Vikings’ offensive roster seems discombobulated with a rookie guard (David Yankee) being essentially red-shirted, a backup fullback always being inactive behind a fullback who rarely sees the field, a receiver (Patterson) who has played only 11 offensive snaps the past three weeks and a tight end (Ford) who has played only two snaps in the past two weeks. Patterson was a surprise factor in a late fourth-quarter possession, catching back-to-back passes after a long kickoff return. That was nice to see.  Bridgewater also threw to him on a fourth-down incompletion that was tightly defended.

RUNNING BACKS: RB Matt Asiata 45, RB Ben Tate 13, RB Joe Banyard 11, FB Jerome Felton 3, Line INA.

Thoughts: Asiata gained only 36 yards on 11 carries, but he wasn’t tackled for a loss, which is essential to maintaining a semblance of balance against the Lions, which the Vikings did for three quarters. Tate got three fourth-quarter carries and lost yardage on two of them. One of them was a first-and-goal from the 7. One has to question why Asiata didn’t get that carry, since his strength gets stronger the closer he gets to the goal line. Felton playing only three snaps and continuing a trend of not playing much really raises the question of why the Vikings have two fullbacks, one of which (Line) has been inactive for 10 games, on the practice squad for three and not with the team for one.


LINEBACKERS: Gerald Hodges 51, Chad Greenway 51, Jasper Brinkley 17, Anthony Barr INA.

Thoughts: Playing every snap for the third straight week, Greenway had five tackles. If the game-book stats hold up, which they rarely do for tackles, Greenway’s team lead shrank by one. Safety Harrison Smith had six tackles, moving past the injured Robert Blanton into second with 107. Greenway has 110. Hodges played every snap for the second straight week as he filled in for the injured Barr. Also of note: Rookie Brandon Watts was active for the first time this season. That leaves Yankey as the only player to be inactive for every game day this season.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: FS Harrison Smith 51, CB Captain Munnerlyn 51, CB Xavier Rhodes 48, SS Andrew Sendejo 43, CB Josh Robinson 35, S Antone Exum 8, CB Shaun Prater 1, SS Robert Blanton INA.

Thoughts: Rhodes played well in his debut as a corner assigned to cover one particular receiver out wide on both the left and right sides of the defense. Really well considering it was Calvin Johnson. Munnerlyn no doubt played a role in holding the Lions without a first down until midway through the second quarter. But the veteran corner didn’t appear on the stat sheet. Prater came in one one particularly interesting third-and-long defensive call. The alignment and extra DBs took away QB Matthew Stafford’s deep to intermediate options and led to a receiver being tackled short of the first down. Blanton missed his first game of the season. He had played all but four snaps all season.

DEFENSIVE LINE: DE Everson Griffen 46, DE Brian Robison 46, NT Linval Joseph 40, NT Shamar Stephen 29, DT Tom Johnson, DE Corey Wootton 12, DE Justin Trattou 6, DT Sharrif Floyd INA.

Thoughts: Griffen continues to play a lot of snaps at a high level. Johnson got a start in place of Floyd, who was finally held out because of the lingering knee bruise he’s had. Trattou played only six snaps but had one of the team’s four quarterback hurries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Most snaps: 16, Trattou.

MOST SNAPS: 74. Kalil, Ducasse, Sullivan, Berger, Harris (69 offense, 5 special teams).

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Vikings can't hold on, Teddy's lesson, Rhodes vs. Megatron, more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 15th at 7:07am 285806531

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


— The Vikings couldn’t hold on yesterday in a late loss to the first-place Lions.

— QB Teddy Bridgewater learned the slim margin between victory and defeat.

— K Blair Walsh missed all three field goal attempts, but he remains confident.

— CB Xavier Rhodes did a good job against Lions star WR Calvin Johnson.

— DE Brian Robison injured his ankle but he hopes to practice this week.

— Little-used WR Cordarrelle Patterson got opportunities late in the loss.



— Lions G Rob Sims said his team got lucky against the Vikings.

— The real season now starts for the playoff-minded Lions.

— A showdown with the Packers looms for the Lions in two weeks.

— The Lions will go as far as their defense can take them.


Vikings players will report to Winter Park this morning for meetings and film review. The locker room will be open to media at 12:30 p.m. and coach Mike Zimmer’s press conference is at 2 p.m.


The Vikings’ last four losses have been by a combined 14 points, and three of them were decided by three points or less. Yesterday’s two-point loss had players lamenting another incomplete finish, but the Vikings have won some close games the past couple of months, too. Three of their last four victories were decided by six points or less, including a pair of walk-off wins in overtime.

Cordarrelle Patterson makes late impact in Vikings loss

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 14th at 8:53pm 285777101

Cordarrelle Patterson had a late opportunity to make an impact on both special teams and at wide receiver in the 16-14 loss to the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday. The Vikings kickoff returner broke off his longest return this season, 51 yards, with 3:20 left in the game then caught two passes for 16 yards on three targets.

Right before the Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson’s final kick return against this Lions, his blockers called him into the huddle to give a pep talk.

“I never come in the huddle, but they told me, ‘Trust me. Do what you do best,’” Patterson said. “They blocked it up so good, there was no way I couldn’t find no holes. I’ve been in [the huddle] before, but I feel comfortable outside the huddle. They told me come in. Maybe I need to start coming into the huddle with them more often.”

Patterson, used sparingly on offense as a backup, filled in for wide receiver Jarius Wright after he was on injured on the first play of that drive. The only target Patterson didn’t catch was on fourth when rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a ball over his head. A Lions defender made contact with Patterson on his route, but there wasn’t a penalty thrown with 1:56 remaining.

“I felt like it was a penalty, but they didn’t call it,” Patterson said. “It was probably a good call by the official. The ball was probably out of reach of me getting, so it’s a 50-50 call.”


Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 114 FINAL
New Orleans 88
Utah 86 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Atlanta 104 FINAL
Houston 97
San Antonio 93 FINAL
Dallas 99
Indiana 73 FINAL
Denver 76
Milwaukee 102 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 7 FINAL
Toronto 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Montreal 4
Washington 4 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Florida 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Chicago 2 FINAL(SO)
Columbus 3
Nashville 6 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 5
Calgary 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
St. Louis 2 FINAL(OT)
San Jose 3
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 76
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 FINAL
Akron 92
Central Conn St 76
Hofstra 77 FINAL
Columbia 82
Boston Univ 62 FINAL
Dayton 78
Iona 81 FINAL
George Mason 86
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
Kansas State 71
Morgan State 69 FINAL
Manhattan 73
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Marist 58
East Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 63
La Salle 67 FINAL
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 110 FINAL
UMKC 104
CS-Bakersfield 59 FINAL
Idaho State 50
Iowa 44 FINAL
Northern Iowa 56
Milwaukee 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 61
Long Beach State 68 FINAL
Texas 78
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
TCU 88
SE Missouri St 67 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Lehigh 84 FINAL
Arizona State 81
New Mexico 69 FINAL
New Mexico St 67
Oklahoma 67 FINAL
Washington 69
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Weber State 73
Jacksonville St 60 FINAL
Northern Colorado 69
St Edwards 55 FINAL
Grand Canyon 81
NC State 69 FINAL
West Virginia 83
CS-Northridge 68
Cal Poly 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 63
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Pacific 71
Montana State 60 FINAL
Portland 87
Ball State 57 FINAL
San Diego St 70
South Dakota St 68 FINAL
Utah State 65
Stanford 77 FINAL
BYU 79
Utah 59 FINAL
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 66
Washington 74 FINAL
UC-Riverside 71
Pacific 43 FINAL
Long Beach St 53
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Austin Peay 62 FINAL
Montana 83
Lewis-Clark State 48 FINAL
Idaho 74
(21) Miss State 73 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 36


question of the day

Poll: Who should be the entertainer of the year for 2014?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters