The Vikings will hold a voluntary minicamp starting today and lasting through Thursday, and one of the things the coaches will be looking for is depth in the offensive line.
One of those who will get a good look is Dan Mozes, a 6-3, 293-pound lineman who was making a good impression in training camp last year as a free agent until he tore an ACL in his right knee in a scrimmage with Kansas City in August.
"He was making a lot of progress playing both center and guard," Vikings offensive line coach Pat Morris said. "Most of these OTA [organized team activities] days, he's going to be playing basically center and maybe a little spotting at left guard. He showed some potential but obviously he got hurt.
"We saw him as a good athlete that can play both positions. He's quick, he's done a great job in the offseason in recovering. The key is going to be how he comes off that knee. According to our trainers and everything, he's fully recovered."
One of the more interesting free agents signed this year is Drew Radovich, who was an outstanding starting offensive lineman for Southern California.
After the Vikings selected USC quarterback John David Booty in the NFL draft, I was talking on the phone to Trojans coach Pete Carroll. At the time he'd had 10 players drafted in the early rounds, and he was shocked Radovich hadn't been drafted.
Carroll told me the 6-5, 305-pound Radovich was one of the better offensive linemen he had coached, and he thought some team was going to get a real bargain if he wasn't drafted and signed him as a free agent.
And I wonder if Carroll, being close to Vikings director of college scouting Scott Studwell, might have recommended him to the team.
"We thought Radovich was a draftable player," Morris said. "As we went through the draft, he slipped through the cracks like some guys do. I think maybe because all of those people from USC were drafted. But I think he's got a great chance [here] at right tackle and right guard.
"He knows how to win, he's played with winning teams, he's played with winning quarterbacks. He has practiced against good people, so we're looking forward to him possibly competing for a position."
Another lineman the Vikings signed as a free agent who was on their draft board was Tim Mattran, who went to Chaska High School and played center and left tackle at Stanford. They also drafted Notre Dame center John Sullivan in the sixth round.
"I think that when you're playing underwear [without pads] football, you can see if the linemen take the right steps, do they listen to your coaching, have they been coached well, and I think all those guys have that," said Morris, who held workouts with rookies after the draft.
Even though the Vikings did a lot of good things last year, Morris said he believes the offensive line has to show improvement.
"Last year we led the league in rushing but I think as we look to it, we've got to get better," he said. "We've got to get better at protecting the passer, we've got to be better at running the ball in other situations -- just make sure we continue to get better and solidify all those positions."Baker on the mend
Twins pitcher Scott Baker, who has had some physical problems starting with spring training, is in Fort Myers trying to recover from a strained right groin muscle.
"I take a lot of pride in my conditioning," Baker said. "My flexibility is about as good as it can be. So you do what you can and just prepare yourself and that's the part you have control over. It's just one of those things where you don't have much control over a situation like that."
When will he return to the Twins?
"We don't have a set timetable," Baker said, "but it just kind of depends on how fast that things [heal]. Just basically allow it to get completely healthy until I get back on the mound."Jottings
Mike Guentzel, the former Gophers assistant hockey coach, said he was offered the St. John's University hockey coaching job, but called them last Sunday and turned it down. He said he wasn't ready to make a decision about his future at present. "I'm having fun coaching my kid's baseball team and I was not ready to commit to anything right now," said Guentzel, who I believe will really be missed at Minnesota.
The Gophers football team lost what might have been one of the top football players in the state when Breck wide receiver Bryce McNeal committed to Michigan on Saturday. McNeal was ranked in the same class as Michael Floyd of Cretin-Derham Hall, who picked Notre Dame. However, people close to McNeal say they believe if the Gophers should get off to a winning start next year, they will continue to recruit him and McNeal might change his mind. The Gophers have only 12 seniors on the 2008 roster, so scholarships are limited. They already have five commitments. ... Former Gophers center Ben Hamilton, who missed last season with the Broncos because of postconcussion symptoms, is healthy again and taking part in the team's offseason workouts.
None of the three Gophers senior basketball players -- Spencer Tollackson, Dan Coleman and Lawrence McKenzie -- were invited to the NBA tryouts at Portsmouth, Va., which means none of them will be drafted and their future in pro basketball probably will have to be overseas. ... Three of the Gophers recruits signed for the 2008-09 season -- center Ralph Sampson III, forward Colton Iverson and forward Devron Bostick -- will be in school in June to get ready for the season. Guard Devoe Joseph is going to try out for the Canadian Olympic basketball team and has a chance to make it. Paul Carter has some work to complete in junior college.
Mike Burns, coach of the Gophers men's gymnastics team, has been named president of the College Gymnastics Association at a recent meeting in Battle Creek, Mich.
Lindsay Risebrough, daughter of Wild president Doug Risebrough, was named MVP of the Gophers women's tennis team.
Matt Niskanen, a former standout for Virginia High School and Minnesota Duluth, has three assists in 15 playoff games for the Dallas Stars. ... Former Bloomington Jefferson standout Toby Petersen also has played in 15 playoff games for the Stars but hasn't registered a point. ... Former Gophers defenseman Alex Goligoski is the third-leading scorer in the American Hockey League playoffs with three goals and 12 assists in 12 games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. ... Another former Gophers defenseman, Chris Harrington, has one goal and two assists in 13 playoff games for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.