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Vikings mailbag: Competition at corner, draft plans, guard options and would Adrian Peterson hold out?

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 12:07
It felt like a mailbag kind of day when I walked downstairs this morning, put on a pot of coffee and looked outside and saw the beautiful blue sky. But then the Twitter questions started coming in. Questions about the new tackle from Poland’s middle name. Questions, inspired by my good friend Randball, jokingly looking for updates on a player who signed with another team two weeks ago. Even some question about Adrian Peterson and a cat named after “Macho Man” Randy Savage. To paraphrase what ESPN’s Bill Simmons says in his mailbags, yup, these are my Twitter followers. Playful ribbing aside, I do get a kick out of most of my interactions on Twitter. And there were a handful of useful questions presented to me when I sent out the call this morning. So without further ado, let’s dive into the mailbag and tackle some non-Macho-Man-cat-related Vikings questions. @mattvensel would you rather have: A) 36 year old Terrance Newman B) Josh Robinson C) a parking cone — Stevens (@HEH4TEME) March 27, 2015 I totally get why there might not be much enthusiasm about the Vikings signing a cornerback who will be 37 when the season starts. Sure, they could have tried to get involved in the spending spree for the top free agents like Byron Maxwell and Kareem Jackson. But in a vacuum, I like the move. By signing Newman to a one-year, $2.5 million deal, the Vikings are adding depth and experience to the position and creating more competition at the other outside cornerback spot. He will compete with Captain Munnerlyn, who would probably be best off strictly in a nickel role, and Josh Robinson, who actually had a nice bounce-back season beyond the Bears’ big wide-outs posterizing him all day that one afternoon in Chicago. And you can probably count on an early draft pick being thrown into the mix as well. If Newman comes out on top in that competition, he will obviously be a stopgap. But if any coach can find whatever is left in Newman’s tank, it will be his old friend, Mike Zimmer. @mattvensel Do you think the Vikings draft strategy has changed significantly as a result of what has happened so far in free agency? — Paul Holland (@paulholland66) March 27, 2015 While I am fond of the Newman move, I’m not going to pretend the Vikings were major players in free agency. Newman, safety Taylor Mays and linebacker Casey Matthews could be useful players but probably not major difference-makers. Swapping out backup quarterback Matt Cassel for the cheaper Shaun Hill made sense, too. DuJuan Harris is probably just another backfield body. The only significant addition was trading for wide receiver Mike Wallace, but there is still no guarantee that will be anything more than a one-year flyer. So no, to answer your question, I don’t think it really alters their plan, which was always to lay low in free agency and continue to build through the draft. The Vikings still have several holes to fill, including at wide receiver, but none of their needs are so, so glaring that they absolutely must use their first-round draft pick to address one next month. @mattvensel are we content with our current LG options — Scott Amundson (@AmundsonScott) March 27, 2015 Guard seemed to be one area the Vikings might choose to address in free agency, but they have not done so beyond re-signing trusty veteran Joe Berger. Spending for one of the top free-agent guards like Mike Iupati or Clint Boling would have made sense from a football standpoint, but the Vikings already have a lot of resources tied up in the four other spots on the offensive line. The key to improved line play will be getting left tackle Matt Kalil’s groove back and getting right guard Brandon Fusco and right tackle Phil Loadholt back to full health and playing well. As of now, the top two candidates to start at left guard are Berger and 2014 fifth-round pick David Yankey, who did not compete for a job as a rookie. But look for the Vikings to add at least another lineman in the mix there, whether it is by drafting one or signing a free agent (like, say, if Evan Mathis hits the street). @mattvensel do you think the coaches are comfortable with pattersons progression? — Geoffrey Holmes (@geoffholmes23) March 27, 2015 There is no denying that Cordarrelle Patterson has a unique set of skills. His 2013 highlight reel is proof of that. But to be more than a gimmick player, it is up to him to put in the work to learn the offense, run acceptable routes, better understand spacing and figure out how to consistently get open down the field. That sort of development isn’t going to happen over a couple of months. We are still trying to figure out the identity of the mystery former NFL receiver he is training with, but I have heard he is taking this offseason seriously and so far Zimmer and the Vikings seem to be pleased with what has been reported back to them. I’m curious to see if there will be any change in Patterson when he shows up for voluntary spring workouts next month. I’m sure the coaching staff will need to see improvement firsthand before they start counting on a resurgent 2015 season. @mattvensel do you see AP holding out since they are deciding to keep him #Vikings Mailbag — Yinka Ayinde (@Saxyprince) March 27, 2015 There was no way we were getting through another mailbag without an Adrian Peterson question. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I believe the Vikings are sincere in saying that they don’t plan to trade the disgruntled running back. And I predict that they will continue to dig in their heels as he and his agent appear to be trying to stiff-arm their way out of town. After all, allowing a player to force you to move him sets a bad precedent. So if the Vikings do stick to their guns here, Peterson will have two choices: play for the Vikings in 2015 or watch another NFL season from his sofa. I am not privy to what is being discussed by Team Peterson right now, but based on what we know about Peterson the competitor, it seems unlikely he will be content to sit out again and lose another season in his pursuit of Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record. If it comes down to it, I would guess that he will report if the Vikings do keep him. But it is fair to wonder how disruptive it could be to have a star player and team leader who has made it clear he feels he would be better off elsewhere.
Categories: Local

Friday ($19 bloody Mary at Target Field, with pizza slice) edition: Wha' Happened?

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:32
Expensive novelty food items seem to be the rage at sports stadiums these days. The Arizona Diamondbacks revealed a $25 corn dog last year. The Texas Rangers unleashed a $26 hot dog a few years ago. The Packers sell a $20 hamburger. Not to be outdone, Hrbek’s at Target Field will now offer a $19 bloody Mary. Per a tweet from former Twins great Kent Hrbek himself, displaying some of the new items his spot will carry this year, here’s more about the “College Daze Bloody Mary”: “This bloody Mary will bring back the memories (or not)! This cool bloody Mary gets a cold slice of pepperoni pizza, which is just what you need with a bloody Mary! If that wasn’t enough, you get all the other fixings! Beef stick, pepper jack and cheddar cheese cubes, pepperoncini, olive, celery and a pickle spear. Served with a Bud Light beer back.” New Food and Drink at Hrbeks Target Field… Good eats!!! Bloody Mary w/pizza slice, Chicken nuggets, Shrimp corndog pic.twitter.com/e5iz8xOmU2 — Kent Hrbek (@Hrbie14) March 26, 2015 We have to admit, it looks kind of amazing. That said, it’s hard to imagine spending $19 on a bloody Mary, novelty or not. Is it crazy to charge that much, or are you tempted to try it?
Categories: Local

Running in the cold: Are you in or are you out?

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:29
A lot of runners hate logging miles on a treadmill. They complain that it’s monotonous and boring. But I’m starting to warm up to the value of the treadmill, particularly at this time of year, when the weather is unpredictable.
Categories: Local

Saturday practice moved to TCF Bank Stadium; more thoughts from Limegrover; a book recommendation

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:28
With the Minnesota Football Coaches Association spring clinic in town, the Gophers are moving Saturday's practice outside.
Categories: Local

May's day: Twins' righthander makes final audition

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 09:23
Commissioner Rob Manfred will be in attendance as manager Paul Molitor takes one more look at a 5th-starter candidate.
Categories: Local

You can help the University of North Dakota choose a new nickname

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 07:42
The school needs a new nickname after finally retiring "Fighting Sioux" three years ago.
Categories: Local

Wild's defense stretches beyond the crease

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 22:17
Devan Dubnyk is getting plenty of help from his teammates.
Categories: Local

Plouffe puts down roots at third base

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 21:53
Categories: Local

Twins still looking for answers in bullpen

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 21:36
The team might look for relief help outside the organization.
Categories: Local

Police to step up patrols on Lake Minnetonka

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 21:35
Conservation district grant will allow Sheriff’s Office to have deputy patrolling at peak times.
Categories: Local

Gophers' Reilly dishes on and off the ice

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 21:22
Whether grilling or passing the puck, Gopher Mike Reilly draws raves.
Categories: Local

Gophers basketball must turn their history around

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 20:38
The basketball team has been underwhelming for 30 years, hurt by scandals and poor play.
Categories: Local

Better late than never: Budinger shows he can still play

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 20:29
After two injury riddled years, Chase Budinger finally has regained his form.
Categories: Local

Loss is a learning experience for young Twins pitcher Reed

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 16:38
Jake Reed, last year’s fifth-round draft pick, threw a first-pitch slider to Rusney Castillo that ended the game against Boston. Reed also threw a first-pitch slider to the previous hitter.
Categories: Local

Vikings sign Polish-born tackle Babatunde Aiyegbusi

Star Tribune Sports - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 15:37
The Vikings have crossed international waters in their pursuit of offensive-line help. The Vikings announced today that they have signed 27-year-old offensive lineman Babatunde Aiyegbusi, a 6-foot-9 native of Olesnica, Poland. They have listed him as a tackle for now. Aiyegbusi, who did not play college football, spent last season in the German Football League. He played in the Polish American Football League in 2013, winning a title with the Wroclaw Giants. His name is pronounced bah-BUH-tune-day ah-YEG-boo-see. (Have fun with that, Paul Allen.) The Vikings hosted Aiyegbusi at Winter Park on Wednesday, two days after he participated in a pro day at the University of Texas-San Antonio. He inked a contract with the team today. The Vikings say Aiyegbusi is the fifth Polish player in NFL history, following defensive tackle Jason Manieki and three kickers — Rich Szaro, Chester Marcol and Sebastian Janikowski — into the NFL. At 6-foot-9 and 351 pounds, Aiyegbusi is an inch taller and eight pounds heavier than right tackle Phil Loadholt, who himself is one of the biggest men in the NFL. You can see him in action here. The Vikings also announced they waived linebacker Justin Anderson and guard Jordan McCray.
Categories: Local

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