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.
Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt, who sat out one series during last night’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs because of an ankle injury, checked out fine after undergoing an MRI in the Twin Cities this morning, according to a source. Loadholt suffered an ankle contusion, but there is no sprain.
Loadholt suffered the injury in the first quarter of the 30-12 win over the Chiefs and headed into the bowels of Arrowhead Stadium for x-rays. But after rookie Austin Wentworth played his right tackle spot for one series, Loadholt returned from the locker room to rejoin the Vikings’ starters.
Afterward, head coach Mike Zimmer said the medical staff didn’t “believe it’s anything real serious.”
Zimmer hasn’t revealed his plans for Thursday night’s preseason finale, but typically teams don’t play their starters in the fourth preseason game, so chances are we won’t see Loadholt. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to fear that he won’t be on the field for the season opener Sept. 7.
After a missed connection on a deep ball in last week’s win over the Arizona Cardinals, Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel and second-year wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson got it right tonight.
On the team’s opening drive, which started at their 3-yard line, Cassel froze the Chiefs defense with a play-action fake and fired a 53-yard touchdown pass to Patterson, who had gotten behind Chiefs second-string safety Daniel Sorensen. It was an accurate throw by Cassel and Patterson did a good job of tracking the ball before making an over-the-shoulder catch and coasting into the end zone.
“It was a play that we had worked on throughout the week and we had yet to throw the ball to Cordarrelle on it,” Cassel said, who was 2-for-2 for 84 yards on the opening drive. “He got on top of the safety and I was able to see it and give him an opportunity, and he went and made a great play.”
Patterson said he could feel a big play coming when Cassel barked out the play call in the huddle. He just figured the play would come from fellow wide receiver Greg Jennings on that particular play.
“Matt did a heck of a job putting it out there,” said Patterson, who had three catches. “I felt like the ball wasn’t even coming my way because in practice, we go over it every week and he always throws it to Greg. Before the play, I told Greg, ‘I got you.’ And Matt did a heck of a job getting it out to me.”
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, one of the Vikings’ prized additions in the offseason, intercepted his first pass in purple in the first quarter of tonight’s preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
With the Chiefs in the red zone and threatening to tie the game, Munnerlyn jumped in front of Chiefs wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr., who was running a deep post through the end zone.
“I was playing Cover Three man and I had outside leverage,” he said. “I knew I was close to the end zone so I knew he couldn’t run by me. He had to stop soon. So I undercut him and made a play.”
But then Munnerlyn, who has returned five of his seven regular-season interceptions for scores, admittedly made the mistake of trying to run the ball out of the end zone instead of taking a knee and taking the touchback. The poor field position preceded a Matt Cassel sack, fumble and safety.
“I should have stayed in the end zone to give the offense better field position,” he said. “But it’s the preseason. In a game situation, I know I’ve got to make a better judgment and get on a knee.”
The interception was the first of three for the Vikings, who picked off starter Alex Smith twice.
“Usually when you get around the quarterback, good things happen,” head coach Mike Zimmer said.
Right tackle Phil Loadholt will get an MRI on his injured lower leg Sunday, but it looks like he is OK.
“They don’t believe it’s anything real serious,” Zimmer said after speaking with the medical staff.
Loadholt went to the locker room during the first quarter to get his leg X-rayed. He returned after sitting out one series. Rookie free agent Austin Wentworth replaced him and was beaten for a sack, which led to a fumble by Matt Cassel that bounced out the back of the end zone for a safety.
Safety Jamarca Sanford, who is fighting for a roster spot, also left in the first quarter after suffering an undisclosed injury on special teams, but he did not return. Afterward, Sanford said he felt “good,” but he expressed frustration that the injury denied him an opportunity to make an impression.
“I’m upset, frustrated,” he said. “Not being able to go because you get hurt. It’s part of the game.”
And cornerback Josh Robinson, who missed the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury, made his 2014 debut against the Chiefs, lining up as the third cornerback in the nickel package.
“I actually planned on letting him warm up then sitting him,” Zimmer said. “Then I went up and asked him how he felt and he said he feels good. So I just wanted to get him about 10 plays to try to get him a little bit of game tempo in a game situation and have a little confidence on his hamstring. So I was glad to see that he sucked it up and went out there and played.”
Greetings from Kansas City, where the Vikings are warming up for their preseason game against the Chiefs, the temperature at Arrowhead Stadium is 97 degrees and the BBQ pulled pork sandwich consumed by this reporter at lunch has put me on the inactive list for tonight’s pre-game spread.
As for the on-field inactives, running back Adrian Peterson, who missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices to deal with a personal matter, has joined the Vikings for their trip to Kansas City. Peterson suited up and took part in pregame warmups, but he is not expected to play. Matt Asiata is listed as the starter on our press-box flip cards, though these declarations are not 100 percent official.
Head coach Mike Zimmer has maintained throughout the preseason that he doesn’t need to see Peterson play in these exhibitions. Peterson hasn’t carried the ball in a preseason game since 2011.
“The only concern you have is he might not have been hit enough [in practice],” Zimmer said. “But our guys are grabbing at the ball a lot. They’re punching at the ball as he’s running in there.”
Rookie cornerback Jabari Price and linebackers Gerald Hodges and Brandon Watts will sit out against the Chiefs. They have been sidelined since the win over the Arizona Cardinals last week.
Cornerback Josh Robinson, who has battled a hamstring injury throughout the preseason, is not listed as out. We’ll see if and how much he plays. But it would behoove him to play and play well.
|Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton||1||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson||2|
|Minnesota - LP: T. May||1||FINAL|
|Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez||9|
|NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano||6||FINAL|
|Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle||3|
|Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman||1||FINAL|
|NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom||4|
|Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo||8||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer||4|
|Miami - LP: C. Hatcher||2||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter||5|
|Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar||6||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas||1|
|Detroit - WP: J. Verlander||7||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll||1|
|Texas - WP: S. Baker||13||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer||6|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez||7||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek||2|
|Colorado - LP: R. Brothers||2||FINAL|
|Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler||5|
|Oakland - LP: J. Lester||0||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver||4|
|Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia||2||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer||3|
|Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann||8||FINAL|
|Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez||3|
|Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta||2||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong||13|
|Green Bay||9/4/14 7:30 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M||52||FINAL|
|(9) So Carolina||28|
|(18) Ole Miss||35|
|(19) Arizona State||45|
|(6) Jacksonville St||7||FINAL|
|(8) Michigan State||45|
|Penn State||7:30 AM|
|(7) UCLA||11:00 AM|
|Western Mich||11:00 AM|
|(5) Ohio State||11:00 AM|
|Appalachian St||11:00 AM|
|Ga Southern||11:30 AM|
|Boston College||2:00 PM|
|West Virginia||2:30 PM|
|(17) Notre Dame|
|(10) South Dakota St||2:30 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||2:30 PM|
|UC Davis||3:00 PM|
|(16) Clemson||4:30 PM|
|(23) North Carolina|
|Ohio U||5:00 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||6:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin||6:10 PM|
|(20) Kansas State|
|Fresno State||6:30 PM|
|Southern Miss||6:30 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|North Texas||7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State||7:00 PM|
|(14) Wisconsin||8:00 PM|
|South Dakota||9:30 PM|
|(25) Washington||9:30 PM|
|Utah State||8/31/14 6:00 PM|
|SMU||8/31/14 6:30 PM|
|Miami-Florida||9/1/14 7:00 PM|
|Arizona||9/4/14 7:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/5/14 6:00 PM|
|Washington St||9/5/14 9:30 PM|
|Sporting Kansas City||1|
|Winnipeg||8/31/14 3:00 PM|
|Toronto||9/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/1/14 3:30 PM|
|Brt Columbia||9/5/14 6:30 PM|
|Calgary||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Hamilton||9/7/14 12:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||9/7/14 3:00 PM|