The safety credits new coordinator Leslie Frazier for their aggressive play, and he thinks the team can prove critics wrong by contending in the NFC North.
Darren Sharper, the Vikings safety in his 11th year in the NFL, said he believes the type of defense played by the team in its 24-3 victory over Atlanta on Sunday is something the club could display all season.
"You always try to improve, I really feel like the sky's the limit. We keep plugging away, plugging each and every day, trying to get better," said Sharper, who had seven tackles against the Falcons. The Vikings defense held Atlanta to 265 total yards and returned two interceptions (by defensive tackle Kevin Williams and cornerback Antoine Winfield) for touchdowns.
"That's what our coach [defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier] stresses to us every day," Sharper said. "To try to get better, keep working, keep working. It's the attitude we have."
Sharper was a college teammate of former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, now head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and while he respected Tomlin as a coach, the former Packer is really impressed with his successor and gives Frazier credit for the great defensive performance against the Falcons.
"You know what, he's a heck of a coach. I'm having a blast playing for him and he's gotten us the right way," Sharper said. "He got us to play lights-out football, and we want to play dominating football. He has us playing that way right now, but that was the first game of many, so we have to continue."
Sharper said last year's defensive system is still being used, "but we have a little bit of wrinkles that we throw in there just to do a little bit different things. But more than that, I'd say it's probably about 60 percent similar. We've got a little extra 40 percent that we do a little different."
Sharper said the hard work the defensive linemen did during the offseason and preseason paid off in the victory over the Falcons.
Naturally, the goals of Sharper and the team are to win the NFC North and get into the playoffs. Most NFL analysts don't believe this can happen, but Sharper does.
"Oh yeah, we have the ability," Sharper said. "We've just got to make sure we take it one game at a time."
The 2008 American League schedule finds the Twins playing host to the Los Angeles Angels Sept. 1-4, despite Twins management having asked that those dates be on the road because the Republican National Convention will be held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul during that period.
Team President Dave St. Peter said transportation difficulties and other problems might occur with the convention in town. The Twins have requested a change, but St. Peter wasn't optimistic it will be made.
On the positive side, the early schedule shows the New York Yankees playing the Twins four times at the Metrodome.
The Pohlad family is expected to take advantage of the new ballpark site by purchasing the Ford Building on Fifth Street opposite the park. The word is the building will be turned into condominiums on the top floors with mixed business in the lower floors.
Big recruiting week
Look for the Gophers to continue to play football teams such as Florida Atlantic because coach Tim Brewster said he believes playing there gives the coaches a great opportunity to display their team to recruits in the area. Some 25 Florida high school players being recruited by the Gophers will attend the game Saturday. The Gophers have six Florida natives on their present squad.
The last time the Gophers played in Miami and at Dolphin Stadium was in the 2000 Micronpc.Com Bowl, when 28,359 spectators watched former Viking Koren Robinson catch seven passes for 157 yards to lead North Carolina State to a 38-30 victory after the Gophers led 24-8 at halftime.
All of the Gophers coaches attended high school games Friday night, with Brewster watching highly recruited Cretin-Derham Hall wide receiver Michael Floyd.
Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio) are on future Gophers schedules, but North Dakota State is not after this year. It's apparent the Gophers don't want to recruit against the Bison now that they are a Division I school.
Athletic director Joel Maturi said the Gophers' new baseball field will be built on the present site of Siebert Field. Fundraising for the ballpark will start in the near future, with hopes that building can start shortly thereafter.
Maturi said a number of golf boosters have raised about $400,000 to improve the Les Bolstad University course. Meanwhile, rumors won't die that the university might eliminate the course in the future and use the land for different buildings.
Congratulations to university general counsel Mark Rotenberg, who made the decision to hire former Gophers baseball player and interim compliance director J.T. Bruett as the new permanent director. The Gophers did the right thing by not having a search committee, because they had the right man doing the job.
Wild coach Jacques Lemaire looks for the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks to be improved over last year, but he said he believes the Wild can compete with them if it can stay healthy.
Former North Star Brian Lawton, who has been director of hockey for Octagon -- a company that represents many of the top hockey players in the country -- has resigned. Lawton's goal is to land a job with the day-to-day operation of an NHL club.
Dr. Sheldon Burns, who was in Thailand for the World University Games and then served as chief medical director for the U.S. basketball team in the FIBA Americas tournament in Las Vegas, said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has done a great job putting the U.S. team together, with great chemistry and morale among a bunch of superstars. Burns, the team physician for the Vikings, Wild and Timberwolves, says this is a much better U.S. team than the American squad that took the bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Games.
Former Gophers football players and friends of ex-coach Murray Warmath will celebrate his 95th birthday at an Oct. 16 luncheon at Interlachen Country Club. The public is invited.
Walker Ashley, the former Eden Prairie and USC defensive lineman, is not in school. It had been rumored that Ashley was attending summer school with the intention of joining the Gophers this fall as a transfer.
|NY Mets - LP: J. Hefner||2||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: S. Feldman||8|
|Seattle - LP: O. Perez||4||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: C. Perez||5|
|Toronto - LP: B. Morrow||2||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: D. Phelps||7|
|Cincinnati - WP: B. Arroyo||10||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick||0|
|Chicago WSox - LP: N. Jones||9||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: R. Coello||12|
|Tampa Bay - WP: A. Torres||10||FINAL|
|Baltimore - LP: J. Johnson||6|
|Houston - WP: J. Cisnero||4||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - LP: B. Morris||2|
|Los Angeles - LP: K. Jansen||1||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: C. Gearrin||3|
|Boston - WP: C. Breslow||12||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: S. Diamond||5|
|Arizona - WP: B. McCarthy||1||FINAL|
|Miami - LP: T. Koehler||0|
|Milwaukee - WP: J. Axford||6||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly||4|
|Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez||2||FINAL|
|Texas - WP: J. Grimm||7|
|San Francisco - LP: T. Lincecum||2||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: T. Chatwood||10|
|Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann||1||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: E. Stults||2|
|Kansas City||1||Top 9th Inning|
|Los Angeles||1||3rd Prd|
|FC Dallas||1||2nd Half|
|Colorado||1||2nd Half 44:55|