Local

Pregame: Hughes aims for 15th win; Perkins not available

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 16:52
Twins' ace Phil Hughes will try to take the AL lead in victories, but his team is missing closer Glen Perkins for a few days.
Categories: Local

First-half analysis: Gophers lead Middle Tennessee State 28-0

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 16:14
David Cobb and the Gophers defense have been impressive. Mitch Leidner had a nice TD pass but got intercepted in the end zone, too.
Categories: Local

Vikings-Rams: Four BOLD predictions

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 14:02
The Access Vikings team will provide four bold predictions for fans to gnaw on the morning of games. If they prove to be incorrect, we will simply claim our accounts were hacked.
Categories: Local

Pregame: Links to get you ready for Gophers/Middle Tennessee

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 13:43
Middle Tennessee is coming off a 61-7 win over Savannah State, but keep in mind, that's an FCS team that is 4-42 since 2010.
Categories: Local

Brandon Fusco signs five-year extension

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 13:42
Vikings guard Brandon Fusco agreed to a contract extension, the team announced on Saturday. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Fusco agreed to a five-year extension according to an NFL source. The USA Today reports the deal will be worth $25 million with $6 million guaranteed. Fusco was on the final year a four-year rookie contract he signed in 2011 as a sixth round pick. He said last month the Vikings did not approach his agent about contract negotiations. “I am very excited to get this deal done and continue my career with the Minnesota Vikings,” Fusco said in a press release. “I want to first thank the Wilf family, Rick Spielman and Rob Brzezinski for taking the chance on me and believing in my abilities. I want to also thank my teammates and Jeff Davidson for always pushing me to become the best player I could be at this point. I have always wanted to stay in Minnesota. The fans and support here is great. There is no place I’d rather be. I’m looking forward to the 2014 season and helping the team reach our ultimate goal – a Super Bowl championship.” The Slippery Rock alum was rated as the eighth best guard in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Fusco has missed just one game in the last two seasons starting at right guard. He’s part of an offensive line that will enter its third season starting the same five players. The Vikings now have the right side of their offensive line locked up until at least the end of the 2016 season. Center John Sullivan and right tackle Phil Loadholt are both signed for the next three seasons. “As an organization we are pleased to have reached a contract extension with Brandon Fusco,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in a press release.He is a valued member of our offensive line. Brandon is a player that has come in and done everything that we have asked. We strive to draft players that are not only talented, but meet our criteria both on and off the field. Brandon is another example of our core group of young players that we are excited about keeping together for years to come.”
Categories: Local

Craig's Picks & Power Rankings: Week 1

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 07:25
What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)? CRAIG’S NFL POWER RANKINGS BEST OF THE BUNCH 1. Seahawks (1-0) Why: They’re the defending champs and, based on Thursday night’s headslapping of the Packers, they still look angry. Some of us believe teams can’t repeat cuz there always is going to be another, hungrier team that will catch them from behind. Percy Harvin’s good health could change that for Seattle. Wow, he looks good. THE REST2. Patriots (0-0); 3. 49ers (0-0); 4. Broncos (0-0); 5. Saints (9-2); 6. Colts (0-0); 7. Eagles (0-0); 8. Packers (0-1); 9. Steelers (0-0); 10. Ravens (0-0); 11. Falcons (0-0); 12. Cardinals (0-0); 13. Dolphins (0-0); 14. Chiefs (0-0); 15. Bears (0-0); 16. Chargers (0-0); 17. Buccaneer (0-0); 18. Giants (0-0); 19. Bengals (0-0); 20. Panthers (0-0); 21. Lions (0-0). THE VIKINGS 22. Vikings 0-0 (Last year’s final ranking: Not sure, but it wasn’t good): The offense has a lot of talent and a new sense of poise since the franchise moved on from its commitment to Christian Ponder. Matt Cassel claims he worked harder than ever to learn Norv Turner’s complex offense. And, so far, it has shown. The defense also looks to be better. Then again, that’s not saying much. THE REST OF THE REST23. Jets (0-0); 24. Redskins (0-0); 25. Browns (0-0); 26. Titans (0-0); 27. Texans (0-0); 28. Rams (0-0); 29. Bills (0-0); 30. Cowboys (0-0); 31. Jaguars (0-0). WORST OF THE BUNCH 32: Raiders (0-0): Cheer up, Raiders fans. As bad as things will get for Derek Carr, they probably won’t be as bad as Josh Freeman was on that Monday evening in October a year ago. THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE HOPEFUL 1, Adrian Peterson is healthy, rested and primed to prove that 29 years of age is what he says it is, not what we say it is based on how other people have played at 29 or 30. 2, Matt Cassel and Norv Turner have brought stability to the quarterback position. Turner has been demanding and Cassel put in the work to learn a complex offense. 3, The defense is more flexible and unpredictable. That’s a good thing, but only if these fellas tackle better than they did last year. THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE NERVOUS 1, The offensive line underachieved a year ago and it’s first test this year is a road game, in a dome against the best front four in the NFL. Three first-round picks make up the Rams’ starting front line, while another one is a key contributor in passing situations. 2, Two of the five key defensive back positions – strong safety and No. 3 cornerback – were won basically by default. Strong safety Robert Blanton will be making his fourth career start after missing significant time in training camp because of a hamstring injury. With some healthy competition, he wouldn’t be starting. The same could be said for No. 3 corner Josh Robinson, who also is coming off a season in which he struggled. With or without Sam Bradford, the Rams present a lot of quality passing targets to account for. 3, How will Linval Joseph hold up? We haven’t seen him since he was shot in the calf as an innocent bystander while at a Minneapolis nightclub the night of the first preseason game. He didn’t play another preseason game and practices have been closed to the media since he returned to action. The first piece in coach Mike Zimmer’s plan to rebuild the league’s worst scoring defense was to overhaul the line. And the first piece in overhauling the line was signing Joseph in free agency. He sets the run defense, which controls the down-and-distance, which often controls the success rate on third downs. Joseph wasn’t on the injury report this week, but how many snaps will he be able to handle in his first game back? THE PICKS VIKINGS Vikings plus-3 ½ at Rams. The pick: Rams 21, Vikings 17.It’s hard going against a healthy, fresh and champing-at-the-bit Adrian Peterson in a building where he ran for 212 yards not so long ago. But a few things popped up while watching some of the Rams’ preseason games. A, They have a lot of quality receivers and tight ends who run as well as receivers. B, Shaun Hill looked as comfortable as Sam Bradford and almost as good. C, Their pass rushers, led obviously by Robert Quinn, are elite and seemingly everywhere. Remember, Peterson’s 212-yard game started with him losing yardage on six of his first eight carries. So it’s not like they didn’t know how to stop him. They just weren’t consistent. In the end, this pick was viewed as a close call that was decided by where the game is being played. UPSET SPECIAL Giants plus-5 ½ at Lions: Giants 27, Lions 24. Why?: Eli was awful last year. And that usually means he’s about to win a Super Bowl. That seems highly unlikely, but we’ll give him a win at Detroit. THE RESTSaints minus-3 at Falcons: Saints by 7. Browns plus-6 ½ at Steelers: Steelers by 7. Jaguars plus-10 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 14. Raiders plus-5 ½ at Jets: Jets by 6. Bengals plus-2 at Ravens: Ravens by 3. Bills plus-7 at Bears: Bears by 3. Titans plus-3 ½ at Chiefs: Chiefs by 7. Patriots minus-5 at Dolphins: Patriots by 10. Panthers plus-2 at Buccaneers: Bucs by 7. 49ers minus-5 at Cowboys: 49ers by 7. Colts plus-7 ½ at Broncos: Broncos by 3. Chargers plus-3 at Cardinals: Cardinals by 7. Redskins plus-3 at Texans: Redskins by 3.
Categories: Local

Twins get to Angels rookie early, but lose the game late

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 00:11
Against the best team in baseball, the team rallied four times before falling.
Categories: Local

Minnesota gets its third commitment in Jonathan Nwankwo

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 00:01
The center prospect committed to the Gophers on the first day of his official visit.
Categories: Local

Secondary to none: Gophers' D-backs drive defense

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 22:06
Under-the-radar athletes make up a bona fide Big Ten secondary under the tutelage of defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel.
Categories: Local

Improved Kalil ready to face Rams' sack master Quinn

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 22:01
St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn had 19 sacks last season.
Categories: Local

Successful United battles for more relevance

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 22:00
The Loons won the spring season title and have a league-high 17 victories overall.
Categories: Local

NFL Insider: Find a keeper at QB

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 21:03
Changing midseason at that position is what coaches are striving to avoid.
Categories: Local

TFD: Twins President Dave St. Peter responds to criticism of marketing survey

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 19:20
We gave quite a bit of prominence on Thursday to Keith Olbermann’s TV rant about the Twins’ marketing department winning his “World’s Worst” in sports nightly award for a marketing survey question about brand affiliation that compared the Twins to 11 brands of vehicles. In the interest of fairness, we wanted to hear from the Twins, and President Dave St. Peter was kind enough to chat with us via phone this afternoon about the survey, the criticism and the aftermath. Here are a St. Peter’s thoughts: On his reaction to the criticism from Olbermann and others: I’m not one who has historically agreed with everything Mr. Olbermann has had to say, but I’ve actually been a big fan of his dating back to his early days on SportsCenter. And I think his show is brilliantly written. “My issue was that anything that attacks our marketing group. There are a lot of people within this organization that have nothing to do with the on-field product. They’ve done a tremendous job in terms of positioning our brand over time and connecting with fans. … I didn’t like the fact that Keith and others went after our marketing group. If they want to go after someone, they can go after me.  … The assertion — not by Mr. Olbermann, but by others — that we’re tone deaf, I find that humorous because nobody feels the pain of our won-loss record more than the people inside the walls of Target Field, I can assure you that.” On the intent of the Twins’ marketing surveys:  “They provide a road map relative to how we message the tone of the advertising and the opportunity to advertise and sell tickets in 2015 and beyond. The best thing we can do is win a lot of baseball games. But our marketing group isn’t necessarily in control of that. They have a campaign that aims at being successful whether we win or whether wins are harder to come by. “Our marketing group has done a lot of great work in building a brand, connecting with fans, and a lot of the success we had early on at Target Field was as a result of that group. I would argue they’ve done great work helping us attract 2.2 to 2.3 million fans this year. … I appreciate the concern about the questions. It’s a process that I’m probably not as familiar with as I could be, but I respect the process and at the end of the day it’s one of hundreds of questions that have been asked of fans over the course of the year.” One more time for posterity, too: here is a link to the survey. Feel free to take it for yourself and see what you think.
Categories: Local

Big contrast in tonight's starting pitchers

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 18:03
Angels' rookie starter Matt Shoemaker has a streak of three straight games without allowing a run, while the Twins' Ricky Nolasco has given up four or more runs in five of his last six games.
Categories: Local

Charges: Video shows Moorhead college star athlete raping 'out of it' student

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 15:10
Assault allegedly was recorded on the defendant’s cellphone; Angel Vega has been suspended from the team.
Categories: Local

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