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Ex-Vikings and Six-Time Pro Bowl LB Matt Blair Dies at Age 70

A Viking great has passed away, as linebacker Matt Blair has passed away at the age of 70.

Blair was one of the greatest linebackers in the history of the Vikings franchise, a six-time Pro Bowler who played in two Super Bowls.

His death was announced by the team. Blair, who had been suffering from dementia, died Thursday after an extended period in hospice care, according to the Star Tribune.

“He’d been suffering for a while, so I guess maybe it’s a blessing in disguise,” former teammate Scott Studwell told the newspaper. “But it’s still too young. It’s a sad day.”

“Matt Blair was a great presence at Vikings events and a tremendous teammate long after playing. He embodied the best of what it means to be a Viking,” Vikings owner Mark Wilf said in a statement.

“Matt is a Ring of Honor player whose legacy will live on forever with the franchise and in the community he loved.”

Blair, an All-American at Iowa State, starred immediately for the Cyclones after transferring from Northeast Oklahoma Junior College.

He led them to their first bowl, the 1971 Sun Bowl, to cap an 8-4 season. He was so good in that bowl game that he was named the game’s outstanding defensive player, despite Iowa State’s loss against LSU.

The Vikings took Blair in the second round of the 1974 NFL Draft, for whom he would star for 12 seasons between 1974-85.

He was inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2012.

Vikings QB Cousins Claims He’ll Be Benched if He Keeps Throwing Picks

The last time the Vikings started 1-5, Leslie Frazier was fired as head coach in the offseason, and Mike Zimmer took over.

In order to keep history from repeating, quarterback ?Kirk Cousins?, who threw three INTs for the second time this season in a 40-23 loss to the previously winless Atlanta Falcons, knows he must quit turning the ball over, Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports.

“The reality is if the pace I’m on in terms of the interceptions, if that were to continue, I won’t finish the season,” Cousins said, via Courtney Cronin of ESPN. “I won’t — you know what I mean? There’s a little bit of, you got to improve. Whether it’s them telling me, ‘Hey, we gotta improve,’ or them pulling me; we got to get better. That’s what the rest of the season will be about for me, is trying to protect the football as best I can. Because when you turn the ball over, it really hurts your chances to win. I know that. I just need to improve as we look ahead to the rest of the season.”

?Sean Mannion? is the only other QB currently on the Vikings roster.

Cousin’s three-INT day was the fifth time he’s thrown three or more interceptions in a game during his career. Two of those instances have come in 2020 (Week 2 at Indianapolis).

Through six games, Cousins already has 10 INTs. Last year he had six total in 15 starts. His career-high is 13 in 2017 with Washington in 16 games. Cousins’ current pace would put him at 26.6 interceptions for a full slate.

“I need to correct it,” Cousins said. “I need to finish the season with a different story, regarding the interceptions, so that’s something I need to improve with the remaining games we have. I don’t know that I’d limit it to the interceptions. I think it’s just the entire offensive performance. It’s just, I need to be better, we need to be better.”

Vikings Leading Rusher Dalvin Cook Out Against Falcons

The Vikings will be minus their biggest offensive weapon for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, as the team announced running back Dalvin Cook is out.

Alexander Mattison should get a bulk of the carries after rushing for 112 yards last week. With the Vikings on a bye in week seven, it will give Cook plenty of time to heal up for the games in the second half of the season.

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook Likely to Sit This Week with Adductor Strain

The Vikings sound like they are going to be short-handed Sunday when they take on the Atlanta Falcons, as running back Dalvin Cook is likely to be watching from the sidelines.

Chad Graff of TheAthletic.com wrote that Cook is suffering from an adductor strain, and he will take the week off as the Vikings look to get their second win of the season after win one last week.

After the Vikings play the Falcons they will have their bye week, so Cook can get took weeks for the strain to heal.

Cook currently leads the NFL with 489 yards on the ground. He also has seven rushing scores this season.

With Cook out, the team will likely give the ball to backup Alexander Mattison. He replaced Cook and rushed for 112 yards on 20 carries last week.

He has never started a game at the NFL level.

It’s Two Weeks and the Vikings Offense Already Looks Like It’s On Life Support

It may only be two weeks into the 2020 NFL season, but it is safe to say that panic has already set in for fans of the Vikings, as the team is off to an 0-2 start, this after the team was in the NFC Divisional playoffs just eight months ago.

Week one saw the team fall at home to the team many picked to win the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers, and then yesterday in Indianapolis the team was a slight underdog, but still didn’t play up to potential in an ugly 28-11 setback to the Colts.

The team will be back at home this week to take on a team that surprised everyone in 2019, the Tennessee Titans, a team that made it to the AFC Title game before losing to the Chiefs.

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The biggest problem in two games for the Vikings has been the inconsistent quarterback play of Kirk Cousins, who had ups and downs in 2019, but this year thus far has been flat out bad.

Sunday in Indianapolis he was just 11-for-26 for 113 yards with three interceptions, and his quarterback rating was a putrid 15.9.

Pressure is going to fall on Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to help Cousins and the rest of the offense to get turned around.

Monday he admitted that he has to be the one on the coaching staff to work hard to get things going in the right direction.

“I wake up this morning looking at myself. I’ve got to figure it out,” he said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.

Cousins’ play is a major concern, but there’s no way that right now the Vikings are set to go to another quarterback, and Kubiak knows that it’s about the veteran just getting comfortable and getting on track with the rest of the offense.

“I’ve got to find a way to get him off to a better start… There’s not a lot of snaps. We’ve got to figure it out,” Kubiak told KFAN, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.

Getting the run game going can only help as well, as thus far in two games the team has not seen the best of Dalvin Cook, who is the team’s feature back.

That also means there’s pressure on the club’s offensive line to block better, and flat out open holes for Cook, a dynamic back who can get things going if given the chance.

Sunday is another chance to be at the crossroads at home for the Vikings, it’ll be interesting to see if this week is better and if things can indeed go better for the Vikings.

Wednesday’s Injury Report for the Vikings Week One Battle with the Packers

GREEN BAY PACKERS
 
Practice Report
  DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday LB Randy Ramsey (groin), G Billy Turner (knee)
 
  LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday DE Montravius Adams (toe), LB Oren Burks (groin), S Raven Greene (quadricep)
 
MINNESOTA VIKINGS
 
Practice Report
  Wednesday (no injuries to report)

Vikings 2020 Schedule Released, Team to Start at Home Against Packers

Thursday night the Vikings 2020 schedule was released, and the team will take on the Packers at home in a week one showdown.

Here’s a look at the complete slate for 2020:

Week 1 (9/13): vs. Green Bay Packers (12:00 p.m. on FOX)
Week 2 (9/20): at Indianapolis Colts (12:00 p.m. on FOX)
Week 3 (9/27): vs. Tennessee Titans (12:00 p.m. on CBS)
Week 4 (10/4): at Houston Texans (12:00 p.m. on FOX)
Week 5 (10/11): at Seattle Seahawks (7:20 p.m. on NBC)
Week 6 (10/18): vs. Atlanta Falcons (12:00 p.m. on FOX)
Week 7 (10/25): BYE WEEK
Week 8 (11/1): at Green Bay Packers (12:00 p.m. on FOX)
Week 9 (11/8): vs. Detroit Lions (12:00 p.m. on CBS)
Week 10 (11/16): at Chicago Bears (Monday, 7:15 p.m. on ESPN)
Week 11 (11/22): vs. Dallas Cowboys (3:25 p.m. on FOX)
Week 12 (11/29): vs. Carolina Panthers (12:00 p.m. on FOX)
Week 13 (12/6): vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (12:00 p.m. on CBS)
Week 14 (12/13): at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12:00 p.m. on FOX)
Week 15 (12/20): vs. Chicago Bears (12:00 p.m. on FOX)
Week 16 (12/25): at New Orleans Saints (Friday, 3:30 p.m on FOX/NFL Network)
Week 17 (1/3): at Detroit Lions (12:00 p.m. on FOX)

Redskins OT Trent Williams Denies He Didn’t Want to Play with the Vikings

Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams is denying that he struck down a potential trade to the Vikings because he didn’t want to play in Minnesota, he told ESPN on Saturday.

“No, that’s not true,” Williams said.

However, sources confirmed to ESPN that the potential trade partners were informed at some point Friday that Williams did not want to play for the Vikings, as was first reported by NFL Network.

A source told ESPN that the Vikings had been among the preferred destinations for Williams and that the teams had discussed a deal for more than a month. But they did not come close to anything until Friday morning, when Minnesota increased its offer to include a second Day 3 draft pick, sources said. The Vikings had previously offered one pick on the third day.

Minnesota ended up selecting an offensive tackle, Ezra Cleveland, in the second round of the draft.

With six teams drafting tackles in the first round Thursday, it’s uncertain what teams will want to trade for Williams. The San Francisco 49ers had expressed interest, but there was no deal imminent, and sources said plenty of work remains. The 49ers likely will wait to know whether starting left tackle Joe Staley is retiring before making a move. The 49ers would also have to create more salary-cap space. If the 49ers want to acquire Williams, they would likely have to offer picks in the 2021 draft because they only have picks in the last three rounds Saturday.

Other teams, such as the Los Angeles Rams, might have interest, but lack the cap space to pull off a deal. Both the Rams (Sean McVay) and 49ers (Kyle Shanahan) have head coaches who worked with Williams in Washington.

The Redskins have maintained they don’t feel they need to trade Williams this weekend if they don’t like the offers.

Are the Vikings Chatting with the Browns About a Potential Odell Beckham Deal?

The Minnesota Vikings could use some help at the wide out spot after the team moved Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills earlier this offseason.

With the draft just over a week away, rumors will be hot and heavy, and one this morning involved the Vikings and reports of a chat with the Cleveland Browns over receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who would fit the Vikings like a glove.

The rumor about Odell to the Vikings comes from midday New York radio host Marc Malusis. He is a co-host of the show “Moose and Maggie” 10a to 2p on WFAN 660.

Here’s the tweet that he posted on Wednesday:

How truthful the rumor is no one really knows (except maybe the Browns and Vikings), and it has seemed like a lot of Beckham/trade rumors have come out of New York, where Odell once played.

Stay tuned as the Vikings could very much use a receiver, and it would be interesting if Minnesota would give up that much of a bounty for Beckham’s services.

Kirk Cousins Says It Might Be “a Breath of Fresh Air” to Play in an Empty Stadium

Amid uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins remains hopeful that he’ll be playing football games this fall.

While the NFL has pressed forward with plans to start the season as scheduled, Cousins noted Tuesday that he believes there are “creative and unique ways” to make certain that games take place, Courtney Cronin of ESPN reports.

Does that mean playing in empty stadiums without fans? Although the Vikings QB said he hasn’t given thought to that scenario, the possibility of games having an altered look and feel might not be the most foreign outcome for NFL players.

“Honestly, we practice every day in an empty grass area and pump in fake crowd noise for away games,” Cousins said on a conference call. “But more often than not, you’re used to it. OTA practices don’t have a lot of pomp and circumstance to them.

“So honestly, to go out and just play the game would kind of be refreshing, a breath of fresh air, to just let us know that we don’t have to have all the smoke and the fire. We can just play football. So as long as we’re playing the game, I won’t have a lot of complaints, and hopefully if it’s still not returned to normal, we can find a way to make it work.”