Darrell Bevell, who was quarterback Brett Favre's position coach for three years at Green Bay, played a big role in getting him to the Vikings, and had a positive opinion of Favre before he had practiced with the team and played briefly against the Chiefs in last week's preseason game.

Now after watching him prepare for Monday night's game against the Houston Texans, Bevell, the Vikings offensive coordinator, is more convinced than ever that Favre will be just what the Vikings needed.

And that is why Favre will play at least a half Monday when the Vikings play on ESPN.

"He had only been here two days, I think, when we threw him out there for the first game. He did fine," Bevell said. "He was able to take the snaps, he was able to control the huddle, he was able to run the plays that we had. There were a couple of miscommunications out there with him and wideouts, but you know, that's something that we'll be able get used to in the next couple of weeks."

What does Bevell like about Favre to date?

"Well, I can tell you, he does get away from the center really fast," Bevell said. "That's something he does well. There'll be times they'll be in the shotgun, so he doesn't have to drop back as far. But, you know, he does a good job of getting away from center."

Bevell was convinced that Favre would provide great leadership before he got here, and now he is sure the 39-year-old quarterback will do just that.

"I think his leadership skills speak for itself," Bevell said. "You know, the guy, he automatically has credibility when he steps into the huddle. He'll end up having good rapport with all those guys, but, I think, if you ask some of them, the first time he stepped into the huddle, all of them were all ears, looking right at him and ready to follow him.

"I think every day that we'll go out there, he'll get better, he'll improve. He's pretty familiar with the offense right now. I think the biggest thing for him is getting used to the people around him. You know, particularly the wide receivers, tight ends, running backs. And as we go through here the next two weeks [before the regular-season opener on Sept. 13], I think, he'll continue to get better and I'm positive by the time the season starts, he will be ready to go."

Bevell said he believes Favre is familiar with almost all of the offense already.

"I think that tells you how familiar he was with it. But there are still a few things that he has to get used to," Bevell said. "Some of things that have evolved since the time that we were together. But for the most part, about 95 percent he knows -- you know, how they come out of routes, how they shake free, what type of ball he needs to throw to them. Where he can throw it to specific guys.

"I already have some history with him. I know what he can do, what he likes to do. So I think that does help. ... As we go here the next couple of weeks then, we'll see how he fits in with our guys. Because that's the most important thing. Not exactly what he can do, but how we can blend his skills with the team."

Twins stuff

Twins catcher Joe Mauer is leading the major leagues in batting average (.373) on-base percentage (.442), and is second (trailing only St. Louis' Albert Pujols) in slugging percentage (.622).

While the Twins faced Baltimore on Wednesday night, third baseman Joe Crede spent most of the game getting his back iced down. Crede could miss the rest of the season with his back giving him pretty much the same trouble he had before having surgery last year.

Twins pitcher Scott Baker has the best winning percentage (10-1) in the majors since June 1, a .909 percentage. He is tied for the third-most victories during that period. His last loss came July 7 against the New York Yankees, the loss before that came on May 29 against Tampa Bay.

Baker was 2-6 with a 6.32 ERA in his first nine starts, and since then has gone 10-1 with 3.50 ERA in 16 starts while the Twins have gone 11-5 when he has pitched.

On the other hand, Nick Blackburn was 8-4 with a 3.06 ERA before the All-Star game, but since then he is 0-5 with a 8.22 ERA.


One of the top-recruited defensive backs in the country was Michael Carter, the Gophers freshman from Pompano Beach, Fla. When coach Tim Brewster was recruiting him, Brewster said Carter told him, kind of tongue-in-cheek: '''You know if you liked [my cousin] Tyrone, you're going to love me.' And, I tell you what, he's a great young guy, he's a special talent, and his future is extremely bright." Tyrone Carter was one of the all-time great Gophers, and he is starting his fifth season as a safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the defending Super Bowl champions. Added Brewster: "For a young freshman to come in with the demeanor, you know to me that's a great example, -- he gets beat on the first play by [star receiver Eric] Decker, and he comes back on the next play and he makes plays. He has a short memory, and that's what we ask our defensive backs, particularly our corners to have, is a short memory."

Rest assured that Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi, who was a longtime athletic director at Miami (Ohio) and had a lot of influence in the Mid-American Conference, played some part in Gophers associate athletic director Tom Wistrcill being named athletic director at the University of Akron. Wistrcill attended St. Thomas and St. Mary's universities before joining the Gophers athletic department from Wisconsin in 2006. The fact that Akron has a new 30,000-seat football stadium opening this year, and Wistrcill's role in supervising construction of TCF Stadium also had to play a part in his appointment.

The Gophers expect to have as many as 15 top recruits at the opening game with the Air Force. Among those expected to visit either opening day or later is four-star defensive tackle Richard Ash from Pahokee, Fla., who is looking at Minnesota, Southern California and Oklahoma State.

Bryce McNeal, the former Breck star who was ranked as one of the top wide receivers in the state, will be redshirted at Clemson. Clemson coach Jeff Scott told Tiger Illustrated that McNeal could play and be a good player this year, but that "the best thing for Bryce is to redshirt. He wouldn't have gone, as the year went by, and made a lot of big plays for us. But if we can get 10 or 15 more pounds on him and come out next year as a redshirt freshman, he can eventually be a guy who could start for four years."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com