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Continued: Hartman: Gophers football staff will keep team stable while Kill is gone

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 11, 2013 - 12:29 AM

“He’s down to Earth, a good guy,” Weber said. “He’s easy to get along with. I think he’s going to come into the Vikings locker room and it’s going to be an easy transition for him. Guys are going to like him, he’s easy to talk to.”

Well, I am in the minority. I’ve never seen a Vikings quarterback get the criticism Ponder has been getting, even though he was the leader of a 10-6 team last year.

I might be wrong. But once Ponder is healthy, I think he will get a chance to start and if he does well, he will be the No. 1 quarterback. If he fails to produce, then Cassel and Freeman will compete for the job.

Rough start

The Carolina Panthers, the Vikings’ opponent Sunday, started the season with two tough losses, a 12-7 defeat to the Seahawks at home and a 24-23 loss at Buffalo, the latter coming on a touchdown pass with two seconds left by EJ Manuel. But they seemed to have figured things out when they destroyed the New York Giants 38-0 at home in Week 3.

So it was surprising to see them lose so badly to a middle-of-the-road Arizona Cardinals team last week, falling 22-6. But Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith said Monday that a lot of the offensive problems in that game could be pinned on one official.

“I got a [pass interference] penalty, which is very interesting,” Smith told the Charlotte Observer. “I got … hugged a few times. Being a pretty good flag football player, I think I got my flag pulled on my jersey a few times.”

Smith particularly called out umpire Dan Ferrell, referring to his officiating as “garbage.”

“I make enough money where if [NFL Commissioner] Roger [Goodell] wants to fine me, he can. But I really think that referee probably was the sorriest referee I have ever met,” Smith said.

Jottings

• Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was asked how much digging the team did into Freeman’s background because of his differences with coach Greg Schiano and his sudden exit from Tampa Bay.

“We did some digging,” Frazier said. “That was important. You hear so many things, you have to find out what’s true and what’s not. Between [General Manager] Rick [Spielman] and our personnel department, along with some calls that I made as well, we felt comfortable and we’ll see how it works out.”

• Now that the Pirates have been eliminated from the playoffs, Justin Morneau’s final line with Pittsburgh was a .268 batting average with no home runs and three RBI in 31 games, counting the regular season and playoffs. In six postseason games, he hit .292 with no home runs and no RBI.

• The Oakland A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays, all playoff teams, had a combined payroll of $191.8 million — which combined would be the third-highest payroll in baseball behind the New York Yankees ($229 million) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($216 million). The Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Rays, have a $159 million payroll.

• Former Gopher Rick Rickert is playing with the third Japanese team of his career this year with the Wakayama Trians. Rickert is averaging 14.3 points and 10.8 rebounds through four contests.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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