Nobody on the Vikings staff probably knows new quarterback Sage Rosenfels as well as Rick Spielman, the vice president of player personnel who also was associated with the former Iowa State signal-caller when Spielman was an executive with the Miami Dolphins for five seasons.
"This is my second time being around Sage, and he's been a very, extremely talented backup-type quarterback," Spielman said. "He has an opportunity to come in here and compete with Tarvaris [Jackson], and we feel very fortunate to have two type quarterbacks like that."
Spielman said his first contact with Rosenfels was when he scouted him in Iowa State's game vs. No. 2 Nebraska in 2000 in Ames, Iowa. Spielman came away very impressed, but the Washington Redskins drafted him in the fourth round in 2001. Spielman and the Dolphins acquired Rosenfels in a trade during 2002 training camp.
Rosenfels' playing time was limited in Miami before he was traded to Houston in 2006. He started five games each of the past two years for the injured Matt Schaub and had his best year there in 2007, when he passed for 1,684 yards and 15 touchdowns in nine games.
"He's kind of shown, when he's had the opportunity, that he can go out there and perform," Spielman said. "He's made a lot of calls. I remember last year in our game [against the Texans], when Schaub went down and he came in and went [21-for-29]. He did throw an interception, but he threw two touchdown passes and showed that he has the ability to make some good decisions, can move the football team and is a very smart football player and is quite familiar with the West Coast system."
The Vikings have always said Jackson and Rosenfels would both get a chance to win the starting job. "I know coach [Brad] Childress will make that call on who's going to give us the best chance to win," said Spielman, who also gave praise to the progress of third-string quarterback John David Booty. "But, as you bring in these players, not only does it give you depth at one position if one gets hurt, but it also pushes [them] and makes them that much better and [they] perform better when they have competition."
When the Vikings acquired Rosenfels for a fourth-round pick, I talked to one AFC coach who said Houston traded the wrong quarterback when they moved Rosenfels rather than Schaub.Farwell a big plus
New Vikings special teams coach Brian Murphy was asked how important it is to have special teams star Heath Farwell back after Farwell missed the 2008 season because of a knee injury suffered in an exhibition game.
"Tremendously important," said Murphy, who has made a great impression on Vikings special teams players after being promoted from assistant special teams coach to replace Paul Ferraro, who moved to the Rams. "I think in the kicking game, you need guys to be leaders, and the more guys you can cultivate and recruit to be leaders in the kicking game, the rest of the team follows along, and I think Heath is one of those guys.
"He is smart and plays hard. I think the kicking game is important to him and he rubs off on the other guys. So he is tremendously important."
Farwell, a linebacker on defense, was Vikings Special Teams Player of the Year in 2006 and '07, years he combined to make 57 special teams tackles. He also recovered two onside kicks in 2007, and it was clear when the Vikings struggled on kick coverage last year that they missed Farwell.All-Dome honors
Of the 12 living retired members of the recently selected Twins All-Metrodome team, 11 will attend the final weekend of the 2009 season against the Royals, with the exception of outfielder Tom Brunansky, who has a family conflict that day.
The 11 Twins greats who will be back at the Dome are Rick Aguilera, Bert Blyleven, Gary Gaetti, Greg Gagne, Dan Gladden, Kent Hrbek, Tom Kelly, Chuck Knoblauch, Paul Molitor, Brad Radke and Frank Viola. The other members of the team are current Twins Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan, the Angels' Torii Hunter, the Mets' Johan Santana and the late Kirby Puckett.
The Twins will have 600 television sets in their new Target Field, while the Gophers' TCF Bank Stadium will have some 300-plus televisions.Jottings
Mike Dunbar, who departed as offensive coordinator of the Gophers football team after last season, is still job hunting but will be paid by the University of Minnesota until February. ... The entire Gophers coaching staff is on a retreat in Brainerd and will be there until Friday, going over preseason plans.
The University of Minnesota announced six alumni will serve as grand marshals for this year's homecoming parade on Oct. 9, including former Gophers All-America football player Bobby Bell, who is also going to be one of the honorary captains for the opening of TCF Bank Stadium. Another grand marshal is former Gophers women's basketball standout Lindsay Whalen, now a WNBA star with the Connecticut Sun. The others are Norman Borlaug, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; Deb Hopp, publisher of Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine; author and humorist Garrison Keillor and former Vice President Walter Mondale.
The average attendance this season for the Lynx is 7,428, up from 6,289 last year. The average paid attendance is up 24 percent, the second-highest increase in the WNBA. The Lynx is second in the league in group sales, selling more than 2,200 tickets per game, compared to 1,087 per game last season.
Many NHL coaches and former players will be at St. Paul's RiverCentre for USA Hockey's 2009 National Coaches Symposium, which begins Wednesday and runs to Aug. 15. The event is part of USA Hockey's Level 5 coaching certification -- its highest level in its coaching certification program.
Minnesotans Zach Budish (Edina), Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka), Danny Kristo (Eden Prairie), Mike Lee (Roseau), Nick Leddy (Eden Prairie), Aaron Ness (Roseau), Jordan Schroeder (Prior Lake) and Derek Stepan (Hastings) will all compete for a spot on the 2010 U.S. national junior team next week at an evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. The team will face the best under-20 players in the world at the 2010 world junior championship, held in Saskatchewan beginning in December. ... After playing last season in Russia, Rochester native Bryce Lampman has signed with the St. Louis Blues. Lampman, 26, played 10 games with the New York Rangers over three years.