For the first time since 1983, the Vikings did not have a player selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Vikings had a pair of strong candidates in defensive end Everson Griffen and safety Harrison Smith, but they were edged out by other top performers at their positions in voting done by fans, coaches and fellow players.
In his first season as a starter, Griffen ranks eighth in the NFL with 12 sacks through 15 games and also has recorded 51 tackles. But he was not one of the six defensive ends selected.
Smith, meanwhile, is tied for fifth in the NFL with five interceptions and his three sacks are tied for the most among defensive backs. But six other safeties were picked.
While no Vikings made the Pro Bowl through the voting process, there is a chance that Griffen, Smith or another Vikings player could later be selected as an alternate.
Last season, the Vikings had two Pro Bowl representatives in running back Adrian Peterson and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson. But Patterson, a Pro Bowl alternate, was the only one who played in the game.
The Vikings have released running back Ben Tate after an unproductive month with the team.
The Vikings claimed Tate last month after he had been waived by the Browns. He was active for all five games with the Vikings, but only played in three of them. He rushed for 38 yards on 13 carries.
Tate not play in Sunday’s 37-35 loss to the Dolphins. Matt Asiata got the start again, rushing for 58 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Joe Banyard backed Asiata up, rushing for 23 on five.
Tate had a successful run with the Texans as the backup to Arian Foster and joined the Browns as a free agent this spring. He lost his starting job to a pair of rookies in Cleveland, though, and was cut.
With star back Adrian Peterson in limbo and Asiata and rookie Jerick McKinnon dealing with injuries, the Vikings took a flyer on Tate, with these last few weeks serving as an extended tryout.
He had received lukewarm praise from the coaching staff and limited opportunities in recent weeks, though, so the Vikings waiving him is a not a surprise. The roster move will not affect the salary cap.
We had a chance to chat this morning with Twins GM Terry Ryan for a Q&A that will run in print and online later this week. But as often happens, we had more material than we could cram into the allotted print space. Here, then, are a few relevant leftovers from the interview — along with one definitive quote that will appear in the print version as well.
Q The narrative early in the offseason seemed to be that the payroll would likely be around what it was a season ago. What happened in the last month?
A Depending on the player and depending on the years and those types of decisions, usually ownership has allowed us to go up or down. The (Ervin) Santana signing was out of need and necessity. We need starting pitching and he was still on the board. He had interest in us, and vice-versa so we went and did that. Yeah, it affected the payroll, but I don’t recall Jim Pohlad or myself or anybody associated with the Twins saying we were going to be at a certain number.
Q Do you need more quality arms these days than you used to?
A Historically, I think it takes quite a few pitchers and I don’t think it matters if we’re talking about 1990 or 2015. You always need quantity, and if you have a combination of quality and quantity you’re in very good shape. Through the years we’ve had numbers to pick from and people down at Triple-A or maybe Double-A that you could reach down and get. But if you look at the playoff teams last year, for instance, they had people who were close or ready to go when they had a disappointment, injury or setback of some sort. Kyle Gibson showed signs last year. There was too much inconsistency but he got through the year, we didn’t have to worry about the pitch limit or protection. Now we’re beyond that and we’re hoping he takes the next step forward. (Phil) Hughes had a very good year for us, and he’s 28 and you have to think there’s more in the tank with him in terms of upside. Santana has a very good track record, but (Ricky) Nolasco had a disappointing year. We’ve got people there where you’d like to think with some tweaking, luck and work and all the things that come with it, maybe even the surroundings or environment, that we’ve got a chance, for the most part, to put a guy out there that will give us a chance. Some of those younger guys, you never know how quick some of them are going to come. Alex Meyer (who turns 25 on Jan. 3), it’s about his turn. (Trevor) May (who turned 25 in September), it’s about his turn. Those guys have plenty of minor league innings. You’d like to think they’d take a step forward and put some pressure on some of these other fellas. You’re not going to get through the schedule without having to reach down. I would think our pitching, we have (Mike) Pelfrey and (Tommy) Milone and a few other guys in that area, we have a chance to be able to at least have the type of depth you’re going to have to have to get through the schedule with consistency and winning games.
Q Have we already seen the biggest moves the team is likely to make this offseason, or is there still room for more acquisitions, either by free agency or trade?
A I don’t think there is going to be that type of impact signing. I’m not going to ever say never because you can’t tell. I never thought I’d be able to do something with Kendrys Morales last year, but right now the impact signing, no. But we still have some things we should accomplish here before we head to Fort Myers.
Final word from Ryan: “One thing that’s apparent in today’s game with Kansas City and the Pirates and some of the other teams from smaller markets is that there aren’t any excuses. There never should be, but there aren’t any now. They’ve proved that. To a degree, we did in the mid-2000s and late 2000s, but I think it’s more apparent now with the teams that are getting into the postseason that there’s no reason anybody should be making any excuses.”