The future of the Vikings quarterback position and whom the team will acquire if Christian Ponder doesn’t do the job remains the big talk around town.
And now Adrian Peterson, kind of acting out of character, posted Thursday on Twitter that Michael Vick, who was relegated to the bench behind Nick Foles last season in Philadelphia, “would intently make the Vikings a playoff team.”
Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk wrote: “We’re guessing that Peterson may have meant to type instantly as the NFL Network’s Twitter account had asked followers to fill in a blank about which team Vick would instantly make a playoff contender.
“There are plenty of people who would feel otherwise, if for no other reason than that Vick hasn’t started more than 13 games in a season since 2006. Peterson was still in college at that point.
“Vick doesn’t seem like an obvious choice to play in a Norv Turner-run offense, either, but Peterson’s clearly looking for someone who can end the quarterback carousel of last year and help make something out of what’s left of the running back’s prime years. He thinks Vick can do that and we’ll likely find out if his team agrees in the next few weeks.”
Well the odds are about 100-1 that the Vikings sign Vick.
General Manager Rick Spielman has been quoted as saying the Vikings hope to sign a veteran quarterback and draft a young one.
When it comes to a veteran QB, Spielman was no doubt happy with the job Matt Cassel did last year and would like to bring him back. But the word is that Cassel wants to go some place where he will not only get more money but also would be assured of being the top quarterback on the team.
I still think that Spielman, who drafted Ponder in the first round in 2011, will bring him to training camp and hope that new offensive coordinator Turner, who has developed a number of top quarterbacks, can turn Ponder back into the winning starter he was for the Vikings in 2012.
Gophers ride thin line
With Selection Sunday coming up March 16, national media outlets have been considering the NCAA tournament résumé of the various bubble teams, including the Gophers.
USA Today wrote this week: “The Gophers have lost three of their past four, and that’s not exactly a recipe for an at-large bid for bubble teams, but signature wins against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa help Minnesota’s cause. With a 7-10 Big Ten Conference record, one last home game against Penn State and then the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers will be under a magnifying glass by the committee.” In Shelby Mast’s bracket posted Thursday, the Gophers were the last team in the field, playing in one of the two play-in games in Dayton, Ohio.
ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi released his latest bracket predictions Thursday and had the Gophers sitting on the outside looking in. They were listed as one of the first four teams left out of the tournament, behind California and Providence on that list.
CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm also had the Gophers in his first four out, but he had the Gophers first out on his list.
One thing that certainly didn’t help Richard Pitino’s squad was Nebraska’s 70-60 victory at Indiana on Wednesday, a huge win that moved the Cornhuskers, 18-11 overall, to 10-7 in the Big Ten. Most national bracket analysts moved Nebraska into the 68-team tournament field Thursday.
The Gophers only played Nebraska once this year, at Lincoln, and lost 82-78 in a tight contest, but that loss could be a difference-maker if the selection committee decides that the Big Ten is only going to get six teams into the tournament.
The Gophers’ game with Penn State on Sunday will be very important. While the Gophers have an RPI of 49 going into Thursday, a solid number, their 4-8 record in their past 12 games is the worst of any team in the top 50 in RPI.
If the Gophers can beat Penn State and Indiana loses at Michigan on Saturday, the Gophers will finish alone in seventh place in the Big Ten with an 8-10 record, and that would mean their first round Big Ten tournament opponent most likely would be Penn State or Northwestern, two teams they would be favored to beat.
Sabres all over Minnesota
The Wild, the hottest team in the NHL at 7-1-2 in its past 10 games, made a big deal to get forward Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick from Buffalo to help a run to the playoffs.
The Sabres are in an rebuilding mode as the headlines in Buffalo read “Sabres continue extreme makeover” and “Sabres’ situation is as clear as mud.” They wanted to acquire draft picks, and they received two future second-rounders from the Wild.
Meanwhile, a lesser-known deal for the Sabres was their acquiring of Gophers freshman Hudson Fasching, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round last year.
Sabres GM Tim Murray said of the 18-year-old Fasching, who is third on the Gophers in scoring with 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points: “He’s a guy that we’ve liked, that I’ve liked for a long time. He has a chance to be a top-six forward if he develops properly.”
•The one free agent you would think the Vikings will try to sign is Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, who was coached by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer last year. The word is the two had a great relationship. Johnson is rated the fifth-best free agent available by a good judge of talent in Mike Wilkening of Pro Football Talk. … The eighth-rated free agent, according to Wilkening, is former Gophers receiver Eric Decker, whom the Vikings would have to outbid a number of teams to sign. Wilkening ranks Jared Allen 16th and Everson Griffen 19th.
• NFL.com wrote about sleepers for the draft and had Gophers safety Brock Vereen listed. “Vereen, the younger brother of Patriots RB Shane Vereen, is turning heads with his athleticism,” wrote Charles Davis. “His versatility is helping his stock — I think he’s fast enough to play corner (he ran a 4.47 40, fastest of all the safeties, at the combine) and has the frame for it at 6-0, 199.”
• Gophers baseball pitching coach Todd Oakes was nominated by the Minnesota chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a candidate for its Man of the Year fundraising campaign. Oakes was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and is now in complete remission. He will be fundraising until May 16. Fans can donate online or at the game against Nebraska on April 12. Meanwhile his son, T.J., a former Gopher, is in the Rockies organization and was 9-8 with a 4.31 ERA over 144 innings at Class A last year.
• Another former Gophers golfer is on the NGA Tour in Clayton Rask, a former All-Big Ten first-team pick and a four-year letterwinner.