Minnesota Vikings: Zach Line

Chad Greenway inactive for Vikings

October, 12, 2014
Oct 12
MINNEAPOLIS -- Chad Greenway will miss his third consecutive game Sunday for the Minnesota Vikings. The linebacker, who was listed as doubtful for the game with broken ribs, is among the team's seven inactives for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

That means Gerald Hodges will start for the third week in a row at weakside linebacker. Hodges has played well in spots since Greenway got hurt against New Orleans, and he, along with the rest of the Vikings' defense, could catch a break Sunday with both Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush out for the Lions.

Detroit listed the receiver and running back as inactive for Sunday's game, and though Golden Tate has played well as the Lions' No. 2 receiver, the Vikings certainly have fewer contingencies to worry about as they try to slow down the Lions' offense and get to 3-3 on Sunday.

Here is the full list of the Vikings' inactives:
MINNEAPOLIS -- A day after the Minnesota Vikings announced they would deactivate Adrian Peterson for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, they made a roster move to give themselves some more depth at running back.

The Vikings signed Joe Banyard from their practice squad, ensuring they'll have three healthy halfbacks even without Peterson, who was charged with one count of injury to a child in Montgomery County, Texas, on Friday. The Vikings announced on Friday the 2012 NFL MVP wouldn't play after a grand jury indicted Peterson, finding probable cause that the running back used an unreasonable amount of force in disciplining his son earlier this year.

Banyard was the Vikings' leading rusher in the preseason with 212 yards -- including 111 in the preseason finale -- and spent most of the 2013 season on the Vikings' practice squad after a solid preseason last year. He did play in three regular-season games last season, catching one pass for 11 yards. Banyard will likely back up Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon on Sunday.

To make room for Banyard, the Vikings released fullback Zach Line, who had made the team's 53-man roster for the second consecutive year but missed last Sunday's game in St. Louis with an ankle injury.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Coach Mike Zimmer continued to sound optimistic on Friday that cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd -- who both did some work in practice on Friday -- would be able to play for the Minnesota Vikings in their home opener on Sunday against the New England Patriots.

Rhodes was officially listed as questionable with a groin injury, as Floyd was with a shoulder injury, but Zimmer said there is a "good chance" Rhodes will play, and added Floyd is feeling "much better" after getting hit in the shoulder late in Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.

Linebacker Brandon Watts, who missed last week's game with a knee injury, is the only player whom the Vikings declared out for the game. Wide receiver Rodney Smith is questionable with a hamstring injury; he had been a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but was limited on Friday.

Linebacker Michael Mauti is probable to play on Sunday after missing last week's game with a foot injury. Fullback Zach Line is also probable with an ankle injury after missing last week's game, as is guard Charlie Johnson, whom Zimmer said injured his ankle in practice on Wednesday. Tackle Mike Harris and cornerback Jabari Price are both probable with shoulder injuries.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The prospect of cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd playing in the Minnesota Vikings' home opener on Sunday appears to be improving.

Coach Mike Zimmer said on Thursday afternoon that there is a "good chance" that Rhodes (who is nursing a groin injury) and Floyd (who has a shoulder injury) could be ready for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. Rhodes said on Thursday that he is feeling better than he did early in the week, and he was on the field with his helmet during the portion of Vikings practice open to reporters on Thursday.

"He was alright," Zimmer said. "We're just getting him in some (drills)."

Floyd did not practice on Thursday, but Zimmer said there was a possibility he would be able to do at least some work in the game on Sunday. If Floyd isn't available, Tom Johnson would likely start at tackle for the Vikings.

"We'll know more tomorrow and the next day," Zimmer said.

Linebacker Michael Mauti (foot), fullback Zach Line (ankle), tackle Mike Harris (shoulder) and guard Charlie Johnson (ankle) were again limited for the Vikings, and cornerback Jabari Price was a full participant with a hamstring injury.

Also, Adrian Peterson did not participate in practice after going through warm-ups with the team during the open portion, but the Vikings say his absence was not injury-related.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings will find out more about their injury situation by the time players return for practice on Wednesday, but on Monday afternoon, coach Mike Zimmer didn't have any reason for great concern.

Zimmer said both cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who left Sunday's game with groin and arm injuries, respectively, are day-to-day. But the coach said on Sunday that he didn't think Rhodes' injury would be a long-term problem, and Floyd said he'd be ready to play against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Zimmer also said that cornerback Josh Robinson, who appeared to injure his leg on a long pass late in the game, is fine.

He added linebacker Michael Mauti and fullback Zach Line, who missed Sunday's game with foot and ankle injuries, would try to practice on Wednesday.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings will officially be without three players for their season opener on Sunday in St. Louis: linebacker Brandon Watts (knee), linebacker Michael Mauti (foot) and fullback Zach Line (ankle).

Defensive end Everson Griffen, who missed his second day of practice with an illness on Friday, said he'll play on Sunday, and that he'll start the game at right end. Tackle Mike Harris, who joined the team after the Vikings claimed him off waivers last Sunday, is questionable with a shoulder injury.

Wide receiver Rodney Smith (neck) and cornerback Jabari Price (shoulder) were full participants on Friday, and both are probable to play.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings appear relatively healthy headed into their Week 1 matchup with the St. Louis Rams.

Linebackers Brandon Watts (knee) and Michael Mauti (foot), along with fullback Zach Line (ankle) were the only players not to participate in practice on Wednesday. Tackle Mike Harris, whom the Vikings claimed off waivers on Sunday, was limited with a shoulder injury, while defensive back Jabari Price (shoulder) and wide receiver Rodney Smith (shoulder) were full participants.

Coach Mike Zimmer had initially said Mauti would try to practice on Wednesday. Watts, Zimmer said on Monday, looked like the only player at that point who would be in danger of missing Sunday's game, but Mauti still has two days to return to practice, as well as a Saturday walk-through before the Vikings head to St. Louis.

The Rams were without cornerback Trumaine Johnson and center Barrett Jones on Wednesday. Tackle Jake Long, defensive end William Hayes, linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and defensive end Eugene Sims were all limited.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who was hit in the left calf by a stray bullet in an Aug. 9 nightclub shooting in Minneapolis, returned to practice for the first time since the shooting on Sunday, and was a full participant again on Monday as the Minnesota Vikings prepared for their season opener on Sunday.

Joseph had said last week that he would be ready for the start of the regular season, and his participation in practice on Monday would suggest he's still on track to play, as would the Vikings' decision to cut nose tackle Fred Evans and start the season with only rookie Shamar Stephen backing up Joseph.

Offensive tackle Phil Loadholt was also back at practice on Monday, nine days after bruising his ankle in a preseason game against Kansas City. Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Rodney Smith, as well as linebackers Anthony Barr and Gerald Hodges, also returned from injuries.

The Vikings were without fullback Zach Line and linebacker Brandon Watts at practice, and linebacker Michael Mauti left early. Tackle Mike Harris, whom the Vikings claimed off waivers on Sunday, was watching practice on Monday.

Of the players who missed practice, though, only Watts seemed at risk of missing Sunday's game as of Monday, Zimmer said.

Vikings wake-up call: Day 12

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings training camp:

Today's schedule: After a day off on Saturday, the Vikings reconvene at Minnesota State for their final few days of work in Mankato. They'll begin a special-teams-only walk-through at 11:20 a.m. CT and come back for practice at 3 p.m. Coach Mike Zimmer will address the media, and defensive tackle Linval Joseph -- who was released from the hospital Saturday after he was struck in the leg by a stray bullet in a nightclub early Saturday morning -- is expected to discuss his situation as well.

More observations from Friday's preseason game:
  • Zimmer talked about how the Vikings would be "very, very basic" in their defense, but on the first third down they unveiled a blitz package that had Anthony Barr rushing from an inside lineman position, Harrison Smith coming off the edge and left end Brian Robison dropping into coverage. We've seen the Vikings use Barr as a lineman in pass-rushing situations already in training camp, and the fact they were blitzing him while dropping Robison early on Friday night suggests such a blitz package as a key part of their repertoire. The sack Barr split with Tom Johnson also came on third down when he rushed off the right side from a linebacker position.
  • Those hoping to see some maturation from Cordarrelle Patterson as a receiver got it on the first drive of the game Friday, when Matt Cassel connected with Patterson on his first two completions of the game -- an in-breaking route against good man coverage and a third-down back-shoulder throw that Patterson had to haul in with one hand. On the back-shoulder throw, Patterson had to fight off a jam from Raiders cornerback Tarell Brown and work back to the ball just in time. It was a precise play that would have been easier if Patterson had broken contact a split-second earlier, but the fact he came up with a couple catches early -- against good coverage from a veteran cornerback -- showed some reasons for encouragement.
  • The Vikings' two fullbacks -- Jerome Felton and Zach Line -- played just 10 and 16 snaps, respectively, as the team came out in "12" personnel (one running back, two tight ends) early and often Friday. Tight ends Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, Mike Higgins and Allen Reisner all played at least 20 snaps. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner doesn't seem to favor two-back sets as much as predecessor Bill Musgrave did, and Felton and Line will have to continue trying to carve out a role in the Vikings' offense.
What I'm watching: With Joseph expected to miss a couple weeks while he recovers from what's being described as a minor bullet wound to his calf, the Vikings will get an early look at their defensive line depth this week. Fred Evans figures to play with the first-team defense at nose tackle, but Johnson also saw some snaps in Joseph's spot later in Friday's game and undrafted free agent Isame Faciane was impressive in pass-rushing situations later in the game, batting down a pass and grading out as the Vikings' top defender, according to Pro Football Focus. Defensive tackle depth could be an issue for the Vikings, but the next week or two could provide a sense for how it stacks up.

They said it: "Well, the backup quarterback is always the favorite guy, right? They should be excited about Teddy. They are going to be cheering for him for a long, long time." -- Zimmer, on fans chanting Teddy Bridgewater's name before he had thrown a pass on Friday night.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Between now and the Minnesota Vikings' first training camp practice July 25, we will break down each position group. Next up: the running backs.

Returning players: Adrian Peterson, Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard, Jerome Felton, Zach Line

Gone from last season: Toby Gerhart, coach James Saxon

New this season: Jerick McKinnon (third-round pick from Georgia Southern), Dominique Williams (undrafted free agent from Wagner)

Position coach: Kirby Wilson (first season), hired from Pittsburgh to replace Saxon (now the Pittsburgh Steelers' running backs coach).

Biggest issue: The Vikings plan to use their running backs differently this season, getting them more involved in the passing game than they've been in recent years. That plan has always been part of offensive coordinator Norv Turner's scheme, and it's designed to help Peterson avoid some contact at age 29. It should also give the 2012 NFL MVP more open-field chances, and McKinnon could be an intriguing weapon on offense, too. But a larger role in the passing game might also mean more protection responsibilities for the Vikings' running backs. That's never been the strongest part of Peterson's game, and McKinnon will have to learn it after spending his college career as a triple-option quarterback. Gerhart had a sizable role in pass protection as a third-down back, and he's gone to Jacksonville.

Player to watch: Peterson was effusive in his praise of McKinnon during the Vikings' minicamp, and if the rookie can pick up the nuances of the position in the NFL, he's got the physical traits to follow in the line of Turner dynamos like Darren Sproles and Brian Mitchell. He bench pressed 225 pounds 32 times at the NFL scouting combine and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. McKinnon led all running backs in both categories, and his 40 1/2-inch vertical was the fifth-best of any player at the combine. He mostly ran between the tackles in college, and doesn't seem particularly shifty, but his open-field speed should give the Vikings good reason to get him involved in their offense.

Medical report: Peterson had groin surgery last winter, but was healthy for most of the Vikings' offseason program and said earlier this week his body feels good. Line, who was put on injured reserve with a knee injury after making the team as an undrafted free agent last season, is back and will try to fight for a roster spot.

Help wanted: With Peterson, McKinnon and Felton (a Pro Bowl fullback in 2012), the Vikings have good depth in their running back group. Barring injury, they shouldn't need to look for another option.

Quotable: "Everything that we’ve asked him to do, he’s done. Everything," coach Mike Zimmer said of Peterson. "Even one day, he came to me during one of the OTAs and said, ‘I’m going pretty hard the last couple days. I might need a little time off today.’ I said. 'Ok. Do me a favor, go out on the field, stretch and we’ll hold you back.' I went and told the running back coach after stretch to shut him down. So he went back to Kirby Wilson and said he was feeling pretty good and can he keep going. I said, 'Sure, let’s go.'

I think he likes competing. I think he likes being around the guys, and he is a good guy. I’ve had several conversations with him when I first got here, and I have the utmost respect for him."
In the last few weeks before the Minnesota Vikings begin training camp, we're going to take a look at a number of players on their roster with something to prove this season, excluding rookies. We will focus primarily on veterans or players being asked to assume a larger role this season. Today: fullback Jerome Felton.

Why he has something to prove: Felton was a perfect fit for the Vikings' old scheme, working almost solely as a blocking back and helping Adrian Peterson run for 2,097 yards in 2012 on the way to a Pro Bowl selection of his own. But after serving a three-game suspension last year for a 2012 drunken-driving arrest, Felton saw his playing time drop slightly last season, and he could be on the way to a bigger change in Norv Turner's offense, which has typically featured a "F back" that can block, catch the ball out of the backfield and even motion out wide, instead of a traditional fullback. Felton took a paycut this offseason, and got the option to void his 2015 contract in exchange for the salary reduction. He'll have to evolve in a new scheme if he wants to continue to play a meaningful role with the Vikings.

What he must do: Felton got a little work as a receiving option during the Vikings' minicamp, but he'll have plenty to learn there in training camp. He's been at his best as a lead blocker who's not afraid to initiate contact, but he's spent little time doing anything else. He ran a pass route on just 58 snaps last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and caught only one of his six passes lined up in the slot. Considering Zach Line showed some flashes as a receiver during the preseason last year, and Rhett Ellison has been more of a fullback/tight end hybrid during his career than anyone else on the Vikings' roster, Felton will likely have to ply his trade in a number of different ways this season. His best season as a receiver came back in 2009, when he caught 13 passes for 133 yards with the Detroit Lions. Can Felton contribute that much as a receiver to the Vikings? It'd certainly help his case.

Projection: Considering the number of other options the Vikings have, the guess here is Felton will see his role reduced in the Vikings' offense unless he can find a niche in a number of different facets of the Vikings' offense this fall.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Of the 16 undrafted free agents the Minnesota Vikings signed last month, they reserved the biggest signing bonus for the most prominent name on the list.

Wide receiver Kain Colter, whose efforts to help college players unionize while he was the quarterback at Northwestern, got an $8,000 bonus from the Vikings after signing with the team in May, according to ESPN Stats and Information. That is the largest bonus the Vikings paid to any undrafted free agent, and it matches the top bonus the team gave out last year, to Southern Methodist fullback Zach Line.

Eight other Vikings undrafted free agents got bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, but Colter's was easily the largest. NFL teams had $80,362 to spend on signing bonuses for undrafted free agents this year, and they could spend as much or as little as they chose. The Vikings have spent just $26,000 of their budget this year, after doling out $64,500 last year. All undrafted free agents get three-year contracts with non-guaranteed base salaries of $420,000, $510,000 and $600,000 in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Former Iowa guard Conor Boffeli, who was released by the team on May 19, got the second-biggest bonus during his short stay with the Vikings, at $4,000.

The receiver has had little interest in talking about his activism since he joined the Vikings, saying he wanted to concentrate on football now that he was in the NFL, and the bonus offers some indication the Vikings see potential in his ability to stick on the roster among their other undrafted free agents. Teddy Bridgewater connected with him on an impressive touchdown pass in a 7-on-7 drill during the team's open OTA last Thursday, and Colter could have some potential as a return man, as well.

Here is the full list of the Vikings' signing bonuses for the 16 undrafted free agents they signed, according to ESPN Stats and Information data:

WR Kain Colter: $8,000

G Conor Boffeli $4,000 (released)
DE Rakim Cox: $3,000
DE Tyler Scott: $2,500
TE AC Leonard: $2,500
G Austin Wentworth: $2,000
WR Erik Lora: $1,500
T Matt Hall: $1,500
WR Donte Foster: $1,000

QB Travis Partridge $1,000 (released)
RB Dominique Williams: $1,000
T Antonio Richardson: No bonus
C Zac Kerin: No bonus
T Pierce Burton: No bonus
DE Jake Snyder: No bonus
DT Isame Faciane: No bonus
Thanks to all of you who submitted questions for our weekly Minnesota Vikings mailbag. You can send them to me on Twitter any time during the week at @GoesslingESPN, using the hashtag #VikingsMail. We'll make this a two-part mailbag again this week, with another round of questions coming on Monday:

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will return to the team's facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., on Tuesday for the start of a three-day voluntary veteran's minicamp, which will give new coach Mike Zimmer his first real chance to work with his team on the field.

Before that, we thought it'd be a good idea to take stock of the Vikings' financial position after a busy offseason and see how their salary-cap picture compares to the rest of the league. The team has about $10.3 million in cap space remaining, according to ESPN Stats and Information. We'll start our discussion today with a look at the team's offense:


Percentage of salary-cap space: 7.18

Total cap charge: $8.98 million

NFL average: $11.67 million

Biggest cap hit: Matt Cassel, $5.75 million

Biggest bargain: Cassel

Thoughts: The Vikings aren't spending much money, by NFL standards on the position, counting only Cassel's $5.75 million and Christian Ponder's $3.23 million against the cap. That's obviously because they don't have a franchise player commanding a large chunk of their salary cap at the position, but while they'll try to get by with Cassel this season and possibly add a young quarterback in the draft, they'll at least know they won't have the major cap charges at the position that many other teams -- including all three of their division foes -- face. That's a silver lining of not having the position settled, though the Vikings would like to be in a Seahawks- or Colts-esque situation, where they're getting great production from a young quarterback who's still in his rookie deal.

[+] EnlargePeterson
Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SportsAdrian Peterson has the biggest cap charge of any running back in the NFL.
Wide receiver

Percentage of salary-cap space: 9.82

Total cap charge: $12.29 million

NFL average: $13.56 million

Biggest cap hit: Greg Jennings, $7 million

Biggest bargain: Jarius Wright, $675,027
Thoughts: Cordarrelle Patterson looks like a star in the making, and Wright can be a capable No. 4 receiver, but the Vikings do have some things to figure out at the position. Jennings will be 31 in September, and Jerome Simpson could face NFL discipline after being arrested for a DUI last November. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings add a receiver on the second or third day of the draft for some extra depth, and practice squad players like Adam Thielen and Rodney Smith could emerge in their second year with the team.

Tight end

Percentage of salary-cap space: 4.93

Total cap charge: $3.26 million

NFL average: $6.12 million

Biggest cap hit: Kyle Rudolph, $1.47 million

Biggest bargain: Chase Ford, $495,000

Thoughts: Rudolph could be a candidate for a contract extension if he has a strong season this year, though the Vikings haven't approached his agent about a new deal yet. Ford looked like a threat in the passing game late last season, and the Vikings will have room for another pass-catcher in Norv Turner's offense. Rhett Ellison has been a reliable run blocker at both tight end and fullback the past two seasons.

Running back/fullback

Percentage of salary-cap space: 14.8

Total cap charge: $18,51 million

NFL average: $7.75 million

Biggest cap hit: Adrian Peterson, $14.4 million

Biggest bargain: Matt Asiata, $570,000

Thoughts: Peterson has the biggest cap charge of any running back in the NFL, and with each passing year, his contract is more of an anachronism; as running backs continue to make less and less money, Peterson is the highest-paid player on the Vikings' roster at age 29. There's little question he's been worth the money, but it's worth noting there's no guaranteed money left in his deal and he only has $4.8 million left of signing bonus proration remaining on the contract he signed in 2011.

Asiata could be the Vikings' No. 2 running back this year, though it stands to reason they'll draft someone, and Zach Line, who had an impressive preseason last year before going to injured reserve with a knee injury, could find a role in Turner's offense catching passes out of the backfield.

Offensive line

Percentage of salary-cap space: 18.43

Total cap charge: $23.05 million

NFL average: $21.45 million

Biggest cap hit: Phil Loadholt, $5.75 million

Biggest bargain: Brandon Fusco, $1.45 million

Thoughts: Loadholt is in Year 2 of his new contract, and remains one of the highest-paid right tackles in the league. Matt Kalil will count $5.39 million against the cap in Year 3 of his rookie deal, and even though he didn't follow up a Pro Bowl rookie year with a big progression in Year 2, he can set himself up for a big payday with a good third season -- the Vikings will have to decide by next May whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option on his deal and potentially pay him more than $12 million in 2016.

Fusco gets little attention, but continued to develop into a solid right guard last season, and triggered escalator clauses in his rookie contract by starting 15 games after playing all 16 in 2012. He'll be a free agent after this season, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings begin to explore a new deal for him before next March.
MINNEAPOLIS -- We're continuing on with our position-by-position outlook at the Vikings' roster. Today: the running backs.


2014 free agents: Toby Gerhart.

The good: The Vikings still have Adrian Peterson. The 2012 NFL MVP was slowed this season by injuries, most notably by a groin ailment that robbed him of his top speed for much of the year, but still played through ailments that would sideline most running backs. He ran for 1,266 yards, despite carrying just 18 times for 58 yards in the Vikings' final four games. He showed he could be a good cold-weather running back, even with his groin injury, when he carried 32 times for 146 yards in a 26-26 tie on a chilly day in Green Bay in November. That was a good omen for the Vikings as they prepare to move outside for the next two seasons.

The bad: Peterson will be 29 in March, and as he gets to an age when the Vikings might want to reduce his workload, they could also be preparing to lose Gerhart via free agency. Gerhart was impressive in his moments to fill in for Peterson this year, gaining 91 yards on eight carries in Green Bay and running for a for a 41-yard touchdown on Dec. 8 in Baltimore. He's also been a reliable pass blocker when the Vikings have used him in third-down situations. All that makes it possible another team will pay Gerhart and take a look at him in a more prominent role next season. The Vikings might be able to bring Gerhart back if he doesn't find a market, or they could replace him with Matt Asiata, but with Peterson approaching the witching hour for running backs, it would behoove the Vikings to have another option.

The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Peterson ($14.4 million), Jerome Felton ($2.33 million), Zach Line ($497,666), Joe Banyard ($495,000). As you'd expect, most of the Vikings' money at the position is wrapped up in Peterson. Felton, who signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal last March, is still an important part of the Vikings' offense as a fullback, but saw his role shrink somewhat in the Vikings' offense and could be fighting to maintain his relevance in 2014.

Draft priority: Low. The Vikings might want to look at another young running back if Gerhart departs in free agency, but if they're able to get by with the backups they have on their roster, they might not address the position. Peterson still runs the show here.