Local

Craig: Defense grades well, but Vikings offense will need building

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 22:17
Mike Zimmer’s defense is a building block in need of help from the other side.
Categories: Local

Chicago holds off Wild rally

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 22:09
Categories: Local

Sutter's debut vs. Blackhawks fitting

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 21:50
Categories: Local

Wall, Wizards thump Wolves

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 21:11
Categories: Local

Several Gophers must step up with Banham out

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 20:57
Injured guard wants to remain a part of the team.
Categories: Local

Readers reveal how to replenish Minnesota's pheasant population

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 20:08
We asked our readers for ideas on how to boost Minnesota’s pheasant population. And they responded.
Categories: Local

Niklas Backstrom gets surprise start tonight at Chicago

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 19:41
Darcy Kuemper was scheduled to start, but the Wild won't disclose what's wrong with his health
Categories: Local

Vikings waive J'Marcus Webb

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:24
The Vikings put offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb on waivers Tuesday. The five-year veteran was signed on Nov. 25 when the team put Phil Loadholt on season-ending injured reserve. Earlier Tuesday, Webb tweeted that he was thankful for being on the team. Webb missed a key block on Sunday that enabled Detroit’s Jason Jones to block Blair Walsh’s 26-yard field goal attempt in the Vikings 16-14 loss to the Lions.
Categories: Local

Rubio improves, Turiaf out for reason & roster move looms

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:13
Wolves expected to replace injured veteran player by signing new player
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Mid-day talker: Thinking back on 2009 Vikings-Cutler trade rumors

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:10
Months before the Vikings lured Brett Favre to Minnesota … and weeks before Jay Cutler was ultimately traded from the Broncos to the Bears … there was a steady stream of reports and rumors that the Vikings — coming off a 10-6 playoff season but still with questions at quarterback — were interested in making a deal for the QB. Did you forget about this? Never forget it. Because with each passing Cutler game, we still wonder about it. How different would 2009 have been? How different would the five seasons and many QBs after that have been? Would it have been worth it, possibly, in some ways? Cutler in purple? Here’s what was being written in the Star Tribune back in March of 2009: The Denver Post reported the Vikings are among the teams thathave expressed interest in Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, andtalks between the sides were believed to be ongoing Monday. Itremains unclear what the Vikings might be offering.The news broke three days after the Vikings completed a tradethat sent a fourth-round draft pick to Houston for Sage Rosenfels.He and Tarvaris Jackson are expected to compete for the startingquarterback job, but neither is at the level of Cutler, a 2006first-round pick who made his first Pro Bowl this past season. TheVikings made inquiries about Cutler‘s availability at the NFLscouting combine last month.Vikings coach Brad Childress was elusive when asked at Rosenfels’introductory news conference whether the team would add a top-tierquarterback.“Don’t know, I’m not clairvoyant,” Childress said. Cutler is 44-37 with an 84.4 passer rating in his Bears career. He’s the NFL leader in bad body language. How would his tenure have played out here? We’ll never know, but it’s a question we still, for some reason, think about.
Categories: Local

Five Vikings stats that stand out for Week 16

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:17
Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something. 339.9 — yards allowed per game by the Vikings in Mike Zimmer’s first season. Considering how the Vikings fared defensively a year ago and all the new faces that forced them to bring in, it seemed unlikely that Zimmer, their first-year coach, would be able to take the Vikings from 31st in the NFL in total defense to a top-10 unit. But with a strong finish these final two games, he might just do it. The Vikings enter Week 16 tied for 11th in the league in total defense, allowing 339.9 yards per game (last season the Vikings allowed 397.6 yards per game). They are just 43 total yards behind the Chargers, who rank ninth. So that top-10 ranking is very much in reach. 17 — pass break-ups for cornerback Xavier Rhodes, tied for fourth in the NFL. Rhodes played well against the Lions, particularly star wide-out Calvin Johnson, but for the first time in a while, the second-year corner didn’t get his hands on the ball. It was his first game without a pass break-up since October, snapping a streak of five straight games with at least one. Still, he has broken up at least one pass in nine of his last 11 games, giving him 17 total pass break-ups this season. That ranks fourth in the NFL behind Bradley Fletcher of the Eagles, Vontae Davis of the Colts and Buster Skrine of the Browns. And it’s more than double the next Vikings player on the list. 75.6 — quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s accuracy percentage in his first season. Accuracy was considered to be one of Bridgewater’s biggest assets coming out of college, and so far in the NFL, he has usually been on target, too. The rookie ranks seventh in accuracy percentage, a stat from Pro Football Focus that accounts for things such as dropped passes and throwaways, unlike raw completion percentage. They say Bridgewater has been accurate on 75.6 percent of his throws, just ahead of guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. And since Week 9, only Drew Brees and Joe Flacco have been more accurate. seven — total sacks allowed by Vikings offensive linemen in the past five weeks. Since the Week 10 bye week, the Vikings offensive line has allowed 52 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, which is tied for 18th in the NFL. That’s actually a significant improvement for that banged-up group. In the first 10 weeks of the season, they surrendered 118 total pressures, third most in the league. The difference is about three fewer pressures per game. Not all pressures are created equally, of course. In those first nine games, offensive linemen were responsible for 24 sacks, according to PFF. Over the past five, the linemen were at fault for only seven sacks. minus-59 — the Vikings’ point differential in their five divisional games in 2014. I wrote in today’s paper about the Vikings falling to 0-5 against their NFC North rivals. They kept things close in rematches against the Packers and Lions, but overall, they have been outscored, 120-61, in their five divisional games this season. That’s a point differential of minus-59 in the division. The Vikings, meanwhile, are 6-3 against teams not in their division, outscoring those teams by a combined 39 points. They play their final NFC North game in the season finale. Considering how the dysfunctional Bears are playing, the Vikings probably shouldn’t be 0-fer for much longer.
Categories: Local

Brett Sutter to make Wild debut, Darcy Kuemper to start vs. the Keithless Blackhawks

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:01
The Wild is 6-0-1 against the Central Division, but it has yet to play the Blackhawks or Nashville. The Wild is 0-4-1 against powerhouses Anaheim, Los Angeles and St. Louis
Categories: Local

Maxx Williams named AP second-team All-America

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:53
The Gophers sophomore tight end added to his list of postseason hardware. Williams was also named a Walter Camp second-team All-American, Big Ten Tight End of the Year, and a Capital One Academic All-American.
Categories: Local

Craig Engwall named to head Minnesota Deer Hunters Association

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:47
He's a deer hunter, attorney and DNR employee
Categories: Local

Mauers want normalcy as they raise twins in shadow of his celebrity

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:40
In an interview with Cretin-Derham Hall’s alumni magazine, the two graduates of the St. Paul high school also reminisced about their days as Raiders athletes. Joe pondered what the future may hold after his playing days are over.
Categories: Local

Moore picks Gophers over reported offers from Texas, Kansas and BYU

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:07
Tyler Moore, from Houston's North Shore High School, gave the Gophers a verbal commitment on Tuesday.
Categories: Local

Greenway named Vikings' Community Man of Year

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:59
Chad Greenway has been selected as the Vikings’ Community Man of the Year for 2014. Since joining the Vikings in 2006, the outside linebacker has volunteered with several local organizations, including Memorial Blood Centers, Sanford Health, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, Fuel Up To Play 60, The Salvation Army, Taste of the NFL, United Way and Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota. In 2009, Greenway and his wife, Jenni, started the Lead The Way Foundation to provide seriously ill and physically challenged children throughout the Twin Cities “with daily support and life-changing experiences.” Since its inception, Greenway’s foundation has raised more than $1.3 million. Greenway is one of 32 NFL team representatives vying for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The winner will be named at the Super Bowl. This is the second time Greenway has been selected as the Vikings’ Community Man of the Year. He also won the award in 2011. Yesterday, Greenway was named as a finalist for the inaugural NFL Sportsmanship Award.
Categories: Local

Tuesday (Flip's third rebuilding project) edition: Wha' Happened?

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:59
Flip Saunders took over as head coach of the Washington Wizards in 2009. Armed with a lineup featuring Gilbert Arenas and a cast of others, Washington had slumped in 2008-09 but had made the playoffs each of the previous four seasons. Thinking the Wizards were in prime contention for a rebound year, they swapped the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft with the Wolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. The move backfired for Washington.  A whole host of problems with Arenas and others led to an eventual youth movement — one that didn’t involve that No. 5 pick, who the Wolves turned into Ricky Rubio. Flip started the process of that youth movement, coaching John Wall and co. to 23 wins in 2010-11 before getting fired 17 games (2-15 record) into the 2011-12 season. Now, the Wizards are one of the best teams in the East with a 17-6 record heading into a game in Washington tonight against the Wolves. It’s a reminder — the second reminder — that Saunders can head into a rebuild and his teams can come out on the other side looking pretty good. The first, of course, was his work with a young Kevin Garnett in the mid-1990s, helping take the Wolves from perennial lottery team to perennial playoff team. His third such effort, of course, is pretty much the same as his first: getting the Wolves from the lottery to the playoffs again. Time will tell how that plays out — and it does take time — but the track record is at least encouraging for Wolves fans. We had a chance to chat with Flip Saunders about the rebuilding mentality last week: “When I was in Washington, they made a decision where we traded Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas had the situation with the gun so he was gone, traded Caron Butler, Brendan Hayward, (DeShawn) Stevenson, we (lost) our whole starting five. We had like nine guys with two or fewer years of experience. So what was going to happen is that we were going to lose. It’s frustrating, it’s hard to go through, but if you’re committed to that and to development, by letting those guys play and play a lot of minutes, you facilitate their development,” Saunders said. “I look at them and where they were four years ago, and now they’re one of the best teams in the East. John Wall developed. And if you look at the league, and you look at all these players … when we traded (Kevin) Love, we became in essence what I would call a lottery team. We traded our best player for the No. 1 pick in the draft. If Love wasn’t on our team a year ago, we probably would have struggled. if you look at teams that have been lottery teams and gotten the first pick, whether it’s Cleveland with (Kyrie) Irving and Anthony Bennett, New Orleans with (Anthony) Davis, Wall with Washington, they don’t even win 27 games. LeBron James, he won (35 games) his rookie year. So there’s a process you have to go through. But what you have to understand is that there’s a history and that it will pay off. (Kevin) Durant and Russell Westbrook were (2-24) at one point (in 2008-09). It would be easy for people to put their head in the sand and say, ‘That’s not going to happen,’ but it’s kind of the reality. People that are basketball people understand what we’re going through.”
Categories: Local

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