Hartman: Sullivan says Vikings can't have letdown

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 7, 2012 - 9:25 AM
John Sullivan, the leader of the Vikings offensive line, said the team has done well to start 3-1, but at the same time, this is one of those situations where they have to guard against getting too high.

"We've won two games straight against good teams in the NFC, but at the same time if we go out and lose this weekend it's right back to being nothing," said the future Pro Bowl center. "We have to go out and execute and keep the momentum going.

"I think we have good leadership, a good core group of guys, in terms of the players. And I think the coaching staff is doing a good job of conveying that message that we need to continue to go out there, and Sundays are a direct reflection of how we practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday."

Sullivan still believes the offensive line can get a lot better.

"I think every NFL offense is always a work in progress, so I don't know if you ever really get there," he said. "We just need to continue to improve. We didn't score any touchdowns last week, which is disappointing. We need to finish better in the red zone. It's not like we're not moving the ball, we just need to execute at the end of drives."

Asked about how he would describe the performance of Adrian Peterson as the star running back comes back from two torn knee ligaments, Sullivan said: "I understand from a media angle you might think of the big picture, but for us, it's so focused down to, we're just focused on their defense and what our offense can execute and doing what our coaches tell us we need to do.

"I thought [Peterson] was back to pre-injury form right from the start. I understand that a lot of people have said that he looks better each and every week, but he's looked like Adrian to me the entire season. I think we're getting more comfortable as an offense, we're doing some better things in the run game, but at the same time we need to improve."

If you looked into the equipment room when Steve Hutchinson and Sullivan were teammates, you would often see them working on crossword puzzles in their free time, and it was quite a rivalry.

Sullivan looks forward to playing against the Titans, with Hutchinson now starting at left guard for them.

"It will be interesting to see him as an opponent for the first time in the NFL," Sullivan said. "I wish him luck every other game of the year; I don't wish him too much luck against us. I hope he comes out of the game healthy, but other than that I hope our D-line has a great game.

"We texted a couple weeks ago, and he seems to be really enjoying himself. I got to watch him on tape a week ago when we were playing Detroit because they had played Tennessee a week before and he looked like he was doing a great job. It's the status quo for Steve."

Brunansky interested

I would be surprised if Tom Brunansky, who has been a Twins minor league batting coach for 2 1/2 years, doesn't succeed Joe Vavra in that role in the majors. All this season, when hitters from Class AAA Rochester were called up, all they did was praise the job Brunansky, 52, did coaching them.

The very popular former Twins outfielder said: "If [the offer to coach for the Twins] were true and that comes out, that would be exciting, but so far, right now I'm under contract with Rochester, and we'll see what happens next year.

"We'll find out sooner or later, but as I said, worst case is I'm ready to go back to work at Rochester. We'll see how it goes."

Brunansky said he loved the Red Wings job.

"I really do enjoy it. I love working with the hitters and breaking down the pitchers. It's an enjoyable thing to do, and I love being in the cage. It's long hours and a lot of work, but it's fun."

"Bruno" said the only negative was being so far away from his family on the West Coast. He had been coaching high school ball in Poway, Calif., before joining the Twins minor league staff in July 2010.

"The coaching and the baseball part of it, that's fun," he said. "But the being away from home and not being able to see the family, that was a little tougher."

Four-year maximums?

In the October issue of Twin Cities Business, there is an interesting side note in a cover-story feature about Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. President of Basketball Operations David Kahn said that when the Wolves signed Kevin Love to a four-year, $62 million extension in January, it was not a preventive measure to allow the team to sign point guard Ricky Rubio to the NBA maximum five-year extension in the future, as many members of the media assumed at the time.

"That's inaccurate," Kahn told the magazine. "We have a set policy where four years [for extensions] is the way we want to manage this. We are mindful that our [star] players should be treated the same."

Love's extension was widely questioned at the time because it gives him an out clause after three years, and Love did have some quarrels initially with not being given the maximum extension allowed. But apparently the Wolves believe four-year extensions are the safer play.

JOTTINGS

• Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was asked about Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, the veteran who will replace the injured Jake Locker on Sunday. "Just going back even a year ago when he was a starter, he was second to Drew Brees as far as taking sacks in the league,"Frazier said. "He doesn't turn the ball over a whole lot. ... He presents some problems because of the success he's had in our league and the experience that he has."

 Titans returner and former Vikings player Darius Reynaud just got a nice accolade, being named AFC special teams player of the month for September. He had a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Week 3 against the Lions, and in that same game threw a cross-field lateral on a punt return that resulted in another TD. And Reynaud was out of the NFL last year after getting cut by the Giants.

• The Vikings should have a great advantage against the Titans when it comes to protecting quarterback Christian Ponder. Tennessee has only six sacks, tied for fifth-worst in the NFL. And the Vikings have given up just eight sacks, tied for ninth-best. Look for Ponder to have a lot of time to find open targets down the field if those trends continue Sunday.

• Timberwolves star Kevin Love has enjoyed participating in USA basketball events in the past, having won an Olympic gold medal this year and a world championship two years ago, and he said he will play with the team again, if called on. Love was the team's top rebounder (7.6 per game) and fifth-leading scorer (11.6) in London.

• On Monday night at Manny's Steakhouse in Minneapolis, Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway will have another of his charity events for his Lead the Way Foundation, which provides support and resources to children in need throughout the Twin Cities.

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