The Vikings once sounded as if they were ready to part with the nine-year tight end, but he's back and looking for better things from himself and the team.
The Vikings surprised some NFL experts when they signed former Giants tight end Visanthe Shiancoe as a free agent during the offseason, even though he had caught only 12 passes in 2006 and was not ranked among the top players at his position.
Then Sunday they claimed tight end Garrett Mills, a 2006 fourth-rounder from Tulsa. The Patriots planned to put him on the practice squad if he had cleared waivers.
Meanwhile, there has been little written about Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser, who is in his ninth year with the Vikings. There had been rumors during the offseason that the Vikings were reluctant to keep his contract. Kleinsasser's base salary of $2.4 million for 2006 was the highest of any tight end in the NFL (he was 11th in total salary, which includes bonuses, among tight ends).
Kleinsasser is healthy. The former University of North Dakota star just does his work each day and doesn't like being in the limelight.
Only Steve Jordan has more career Vikings starts at tight end (149) than Kleinsasser (83). He ranks fifth among Vikings tight ends in career catches with 154, behind Jordan (498), Jermaine Wiggins (186), Stu Voigt (177) and Joe Senser (165).
"I think it's just coming in and picking up what scraps I can and getting in there and doing my run blocking, pass protection and whatever comes after that, you know, comes," Kleinsasser said. "I hope I get a few more opportunities [to catch passes] but it's whatever the game plan calls for and whatever happens out there on the field. I just do what I'm asked to do and whatever that is, I'm ready to do it."
Kleinsasser said the West Coast offense provides a lot of opportunities for the tight end to catch some passes, although he didn't catch any in four preseason games.
"We've got to, as tight ends, execute it and get in the right spots and take care of the ball," Kleinsasser said.
About the talk last year of not keeping Kleinsasser because of his high salary for a tight end, he said: "I'm still here. ... I love being in Minnesota, love the people here and love this team."
He looks for a big improvement over last season's 6-10 record during coach Brad Childress' first year.
"I think the big thing is just the chemistry with the guys, and the coaching staff and players knowing each other a heck of a lot better," he said. "It's going to be a lot better this year.
"That's the big thing. You come out your first year, it's like your first day of kindergarten. Now we're kind of used to everybody's personalities and what to expect in all situations. So it will be pretty good."
A lot of good football players come out of Division II schools, and Kleinsasser is one of that group. He's also a great team leader.
Gophers football coach Tim Brewster admits there was a lot of hurt after being upset by Bowling Green 32-31 in overtime, but he says the players have responded well this week in practice.
Brewster has made some lineup changes, moving true freshman Ryan Collado into the starting lineup at right cornerback over fifth-year senior Desi Steib and moving Mike Chambers back to wide receiver after a tryout at cornerback.
Brewster looks for the team to play with much more confidence this week, particularly early in the game.
"We had a lot of young kids playing last week," Brewster said. "Between redshirt freshmen and true freshmen, I think we had around 15 kids playing in the game for the first time. So I think there was some confidence issues there. ... We've made some corrections, some adjustments this week in practice and I think you'll see us, you know you'll see those kids playing much more confident this week against Miami of Ohio."
|Los Angeles - LP: H. Ryu||4||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda||6|
|Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman||13||FINAL|
|Detroit - LP: R. Porcello||3|
|Miami - LP: J. Fernandez||1||FINAL|
|Arizona - WP: D. Hernandez||3|
|San Diego - LP: L. Gregerson||2||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner||4|
|Los Angeles - WP: C. Capuano||6||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - LP: P. Hughes||0|
|Washington||2||Bottom 10th Inning|
|Kansas City - LP: L. Mendoza||3||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: J. Masterson||6|
|Colorado||2||Top 9th Inning|
|NY Mets||3||Top 9th Inning|
|Pittsburgh||1||Top 10th Inning|
|Tampa Bay||6||Bottom 8th Inning|
|Oakland||3||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Chicago WSox||1||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Milwaukee||0||Top 7th Inning|
|Chicago Cubs||1||Top 6th Inning|
|Seattle - J. Saunders||9:05 PM|
|LA Angels - C. Wilson|
|Colorado||1||2nd Half 35:00|
|Chivas USA||9:00 PM|
|Montreal||6/20/13 6:00 PM|
|Winnipeg||6/20/13 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||6/20/13 9:00 PM|
|Edmonton||6/21/13 9:00 PM|
|Montreal||6/27/13 8:00 PM|