Chris Tomasson / St. Paul Pioneer Press
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr entered this season with something to prove to his head coach. Last December, with Barr finishing up a disappointing season, Mike Zimmer said he "sometimes has a tendency to coast a little bit." Barr said he used the comment as motivation. "Yeah, I mean I felt I wanted to prove myself that I was a better player than I was (in 2016) and that I could meet expectations, and I think I've done a pretty good job," Barr said in a recent interview. "From a year ago, I've come a long ways from there."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A year ago, Michael Floyd had what he says was a "wake-up call." On Dec. 12, 2016, the St. Paul native and former Cretin-Derham Hall High School star was arrested for DUI in Arizona, where he was playing for the Cardinals. Found asleep with his car running at a traffic light in Scottsdale, Floyd had a blood-alcohol level of .217, nearly three times the legal limit. In February, he pleaded guilty to extreme DUI and was sentenced to 24 days in jail and three months of home confinement. "It's been a long year," Floyd said.
MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen talks a lot on the field and gobbles up quarterbacks. That is quite familiar to hall of fame defensive lineman John Randle, who played for Minnesota from 1990-2000. "Everson Griffen reminds me of myself," Randle said in a phone interview. "I like his style. I definitely love his energy. I love his motor. He's having so much fun out there, and he makes it look like he's having just a casual day out there on the football field."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Case Keenum was battered but undeterred. The Vikings quarterback was sacked a season-high six times, threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in a 31-24 loss to Carolina on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. So what was Keenum thinking after Minnesota's eight-game winning streak was snapped? "I'm looking to start another win streak," he said. The Vikings (10-3) lost for the first time since Oct. 1 at home against Detroit. They also had their five-game road winning streak snapped. But they didn't go down without a fight.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The Minnesota Vikings' magical season was stalled, but not without some late-game drama. The Vikings overcame an 11-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to tie the score before falling 31-24 to Carolina on Sunday, Dec. 10, at Bank of America Stadium. Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart scored on a 1-yard run, his third touchdown of the day, to break a 24-24 tie with 1:47 left in the game. That followed quarterback Cam Newton running 62 yards to the Minnesota 8.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings tackle Mike Remmers won't play Sunday, Dec. 10, against his old team, but he's been passing on plenty of tips to his replacement. Remmers, who has a lower back injury, was ruled out Friday for the game at Carolina, the fifth straight he will miss. He played with the Panthers from 2014-16 before signing a five-year, $30 million contract with the Vikings.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Steve Jordan is widely regarded as the best tight end in Vikings history, but Kyle Rudolph has a chance to surpass him. Just ask Jordan. "He's still in mid-career, so time will tell," Jordan said. "If he continues to progress, he's got unlimited potential. He's a Pro Bowl-type player."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Duluth native C.J. Ham grew up a Vikings fan, and was glued to the television in 2012 when Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and was named NFL MVP. Ham, then a redshirt freshman running back at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., wasn't just paying attention to Peterson that season. He was keeping a close eye on the fullback blocking for him. "I liked Jerome Felton a lot," Ham said. "Adrian had some unbelievable years with him blocking in front of him. Obviously, (Felton) was doing something right."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The last time the Vikings went to the Super Bowl, they were led by scrambling quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Could another scrambler get them there this season? Former Minnesota running back Chuck Foreman, who was on three Super Bowl teams in the 1970s with Tarkenton, isn't making any predictions. But Foreman said Case Keenum does conjure up some memories of Tarkenton eluding pass rushers.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Jarius Wright's clutch play has earned him several nicknames from teammates. The Vikings wide receiver doesn't catch a lot of passes, but the ones he does grab really seem to count. Of Wright's 14 receptions this season, nine have been for first downs and two for touchdowns. Five catches have resulted in a third-down conversion. Wright caught three passes for 18 yards in the Vikings' 14-9 victory over the Falcons on Sunday in Atlanta. Two went for first downs, with one being a third-down conversion.