Last year this time, Matt Kalil was a Vikings first-round choice with a great reputation at Southern California but with no one knowing for sure whether or not he would live up to the praise.
Well, Kalil not only live up to his reputation during a great rookie season that included helping Adrian Peterson to his 2,097 yards and MVP award, but Vikings coaches believe that the left tackle is going to be attending Pro Bowls for a very long time, just as he did earlier this year.
After enjoying that banner rookie year, Kalil was asked what is different about his experiences in preparing for Year 2.
“I think just being a lot more comfortable in this environment and knowing my teammates a lot better and kind of being more at ease and getting the routine down,” he said. “I think that’s more different.
“It’s still the same mindset. I want to work hard and continue to get better and still become a better player.”
The Vikings started the same five offensive linemen for all 16 games last season, and it is back intact for this upcoming year. Kalil believes that is a big plus for the team.
“Especially know that I know them a lot better and hang out with them a lot more,” he said. “It’s a lot easier.”
Kalil is listed at 6-7 and 295 pounds by the team, and he is a rare lineman that has trouble keeping on weight. He said his weight is currently above 300, which is what he would like to play at.
“My weight is fine, my weight has always been fine and hasn’t affected my playing, so I’m not too worried about it,” he said.
Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson has coached linemen around the league at New Orleans, New England, Cleveland and Carolina, and he hasn’t coached a tackle better than Kalil.
As Ben Revere showed his old team Thursday night, the Twins traded away a gifted player when they dealt him last offseason.
Revere has been having a rough season with the Phillies, but he looked like the speedster the Twins remembered that night when he had four hits, including a triple, as well as two runs and a stolen base in Philadelphia’s 3-2 victory at Target Field.
Charlie Manuel said this past week that Revere has a few things he needs to work on going forward.
“He’s a little short on arm, but he likes to play and plays real hard,” said Manuel, the former Twins player in his ninth season managing the Phillies. “I’d like to see him bunt a little bit better, and actually getting on-base, he needs to learn how to get a little bit better lead and he would help us a lot more, because he would manufacture some runs for us.”
Revere, whom the Twins traded this past offseason for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May, entered Saturday hitting .264 with a low .304 on-base percentage — that’s down from a .294 batting average and .333 on-base percentage last season. But Manuel believes Revere’s offense will come around.
“He has a chance to help us,” he said. “He needs to improve a little bit on his leads, his breaks and leads, and he needs to improve on his bunting.”
Manuel’s new-look outfield includes another former Twins player in right in Delmon Young, who signed as a free agent for $750,000 plus incentives. Manuel said the Phillies had to rush Young back a little from his rehab assignment following microfracture surgery on his right ankle in the offseason.
“He’s just getting really back into playing and you’ve got to give him some time,” Manuel said. “He’s shown that he can hit. He’s had spurts where he has really hit the ball hard. … I think the more at-bats he gets, the better he is going to be.”
Manuel also said that Twins fans should have faith that Worley is going to become a solid pitcher for the major league club. The Twins’ Opening Day starter posted a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts before being sent down to Class AAA Rochester.
“Worley is going to be fine,” said his former manager. “He’s a battler and he’s a winner. He goes down there and he gets his velocity back up a little bit and gets the ball down — he can’t pitch high, he has to throw the ball low in the strike zone — but he’ll battle and he’ll get it done. He’ll be back up here.”
Gophers baseball center fielder Troy Larson was selected as a 2013 Capital One Academic All-American, the second year in a row he was awarded that honor.
Larson hit .304 this season, second best on the squad, and had 3.954 grade-point average, one of the best in the entire University of Minnesota student body. Larson is double majoring in genetics/cell biology and biochemistry.
Gophers coach John Anderson recalled Larson showing a questionnaire sent to him by a scout. “Do I have to fill this out,” Anderson recalled Larson saying. “I don’t want to be a pro player, I want to be a doctor.”
• The hot rumor is that while Wells Fargo is talking about building two towers for the new Vikings stadium, the word about U.S. Bank is that it leads in the naming rights deal.
• With Tarvaris Jackson back with the Seahawks, the former Vikings quarterback returned to the team for which he was the starter for most of 2011. Jackson, who was released by Buffalo, will battle Brady Quinn for the backup job behind starter Russell Wilson, coach Pete Carroll told the Seattle Times on Thursday, but the newspaper added that Jackson figures to have the edge because of his familiarity with the playbook and the roster.
• While playing in a charity golf tournament in Chicago, former Vikings quarterback Warren Moon sang the praises of new Bears coach Marc Trestman. Moon said Bears quarterback Jay Cutler should be open-minded to what Trestman offers. “He has an outstanding offensive mind,” Moon said of Trestman. “If Cutler is open to the concepts and different philosophies that Marc brings to the table, he is going to have a lot of success.”
• Vince Taylor, who was with Tubby Smith as a Gophers men’s basketball assistant coach, is expected to rejoin Smith at Texas Tech.
… Pat Knight, son of Bob Knight and the coach at Lamar, is a close friend of new Gophers coach Richard Pitino, and because of that friendship Lamar could end up on the Gophers schedule. … Although Williams Arena needs some upgrades, there are no plans to do any this year because the money isn’t available.
• The Twins will honor Mariano Rivera, as many teams have during his final season with the Yankees, on July 2 at Target Field. “We’ll do a pregame tribute to Mariano out of respect to him as a closer, but really out of respect for him as one of the great humanitarians of the game,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said.