Sports Illustrated recently ran its NFL predictions and has the Vikings as the eighth-best team in the NFC. In the magazine, General Manager Rick Spielman was quoted talking about quarterback Christian Ponder’s career.
“The same things happened to Eli Manning early on in New York. He had a lot of ups and downs in his second and third years, but that stopped when he won the Super Bowl in Year 4,” Spielman told SI. “You have to look at the whole picture, and we feel very confident that [Ponder] is progressing the way he should be.”
Coach Leslie Frazier talked about how Ponder now has a signature game to look back on after he finished last season throwing for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Vikings’ playoff-clinching victory over the Packers in the season finale.
“That win should be a steppingstone,” Frazier said. “It’s something he can look back on and say, ‘I know I can do this. I proved it.’ I think we’ll say that was the turning point in his career.”
Morneau joins the race
Now that Justin Morneau has joined the Pirates, the longtime Twins star said he is excited for the chance to play in a playoff atmosphere again.
“A first-place team, you’re always excited to become a part of that,” Morneau told MLB.com. “I’ve been paying attention from the other league, and they play the game hard and play it right. Hopefully it’ll be a long run and fun run, and I’ve stepped into something that’s enjoyable.”
He went 1-for-3 with a walk in his Pittsburgh debut Sunday.
• MarQueis Gray, the former Gophers quarterback and receiver who is trying to catch on as a tight end in the NFL, was cut by the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday but claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
• You wonder if after the Vikings play a couple of games and find they miss the tackling and other abilities of now-retired cornerback Antoine Winfield, that they won’t pursue him to return to help their defense.
• New Mexico State went into halftime of its game with No. 15 Texas trailing just 14-7, but the Longhorns scored 42 unanswered points in the second half. … The Gophers-New Mexico State game will not be televised live on local TV but will be shown on Fox Sports North on Sunday and can be viewed over the Internet live. … Local fans will recognize one name on the New Mexico State roster, former Eden Prairie defensive lineman Willie Mobley, who landed with the Aggies after leaving Arizona. He had three tackles in the loss to Texas.
• The Twins are sending seven prospects to the Arizona Fall League: pitchers A.J. Achter, Zach Jones, Trevor May and Alex Meyer; infielder Eddie Rosario; and outfielders Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball. They will all play with Glendale.
• Tyus Jones, the Apple Valley standout point guard who is currently the No. 3-ranked high school basketball prospect in the country according to ESPN, took an official visit to Baylor this weekend. Also there for the visit was Jahlil Okafor, the No. 1 prospect in the country, who has long been rumored to be part of a package deal in recruiting Jones.
• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published this statistic: In Francisco Liriano’s starts after a Pirates loss, he is 8-2 with a 1.26 ERA in 10 games. He pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 5-0 victory over St. Louis on Friday.
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