It is amazing how people have blown hot and cold on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder.
Tom Brady will tell you that he is as good as his offensive line, and the Vikings offensive line has finally come around to a point where they are giving Ponder a chance to succeed.
Brandon Fusco, a second year right guard who was drafted after being a center at Slippery Rock, did a great job on Houston’s J.J. Watt, who is probably the most valuable defensive player in the league, on Sunday. Fusco did get a lot of help, but he has really developed this season.
In my opinion, John Sullivan is the best center in the NFC this year, and he should make the Pro Bowl.
Where would the Vikings be without rookie kicker Blair Walsh? He is another guy who should make the Pro Bowl. He might be the most valuable player on the team. He has an NFL-record nine field goals from 50 or more yards, and he tied a team record with his 56-yarder against the Texans.
The Vikings can make the playoffs with a victory against the Packers on Sunday, quite an achievement for a team that wasn’t supposed to win many games this year.
In the Vikings offices at Winter Park, they often have videoconferences with the principal owners of the team, Zygi and Mark Wilf, who are based in New Jersey.
There was such a meeting on Tuesday that was unusual, because the non-football executives took part.
You want a good guess what one of the topics was, in addition to updates on the stadium?
Well, look for an announcement any day that coach Leslie Frazier is going to get a contract extension. As reported in my column on Dec. 10, Frazier is going to be the team’s coach in the future, and I believe he will get a two- or three-year extension to his current deal, which expires after next season.
The Wilfs have an outstanding relationship with Frazier, one that has improved steadily since he took over as the team’s coach near the end of the 2010 season.
New thinking at U
All the talk about adding athletic facilities at the University of Minnesota has usually focused on putting those facilities around the TCF Bank Stadium-Williams Arena-Mariucci Arena area.
But Norwood Teague, the Gophers athletic director, and his new staff have different ideas. They would like to see everything built around the Bierman Building, including the basketball offices and any new basketball practice facility. The Gibson-Nagurski football building will be enlarged and remodeled, a new track will be built, among other things, if everything eventually gets approved. This is a change in thinking, but likely the way they will go.
One very positive thing about Gophers football coach Jerry Kill is that, while football is his primary duty, he spends a lot of time doing more for community and needy people than any coach I can recall.
About a week ago he spoke to a group of young people who are dealing with epilepsy. Kill, who has suffered a number of epileptic seizures, spent a long time talking individually and collectively to all the young boys and girls at that session. They certainly felt a lot better after he left.
The Gophers' twitter account said the defensive players packed 11,232 meals.The Gophers offensive players will compete with that and try to pack more than 11,232 meals for Kids Against Hunger this week.
One thing about Kill -- he cares about people who are underprivilaged and are in need. And he makes a great impression on his players in that regard, and shows them how they can help. Believe me, the players love getting together to support causes like that, too.
One of the things that is upsetting Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, who said this week that he is unhappy and won't report to training camp unless "issues" are settled, is his contract.
Harvin saw center John Sullivan get a five-year, $25 million contract after last season. Sullivan is entering his fifth season with the team.
Harvin is entering the fourth season of his five-year, $12 million deal. His base salary over the next two years is a combined $2.5 million, and certainly he feels he as valuable to the team as a center is.
Furthermore, Harvin checked on salaries of several players at a similar stage in their careers, and many were making a lot more money.
Don't worry about Harvin being traded. That'll never happen.
Look for the Wilfs, owners of the team, to work out a multi-year contract for the great wide receiver, who is also a fine kick returner and can run the ball.
Very seldom do members of the media know in advance what player the Vikings plan to take in the draft, but I've been fortunate enough to be tipped off on several occasions.
Denny Green told me the day before the draft in 1998 of the team's great interest in Randy Moss, who had some baggage coming out of Marshall University. Moss lasted until the 21st pick of the first round, but the Vikings had him in their sights all along and were hoping he would drop to them.
Denny also told me the next year that Daunte Culpepper, the quarterback at Central Florida, would be the pick. Most teams weren't certain he had all the abilities of an NFL quarterback, but the Vikings took him with the 11th pick, even though they seemed to be set at quarterback and many people were surprised at the selection.
Former Vikings coach Brad Childress got running back Adrian Peterson with the seventh overall pick in 2007. Other teams were scared off because of a shoulder injury Peterson had at Oklahoma, but the Vikings planned to take him if he was available, and got him.
Percy Harvin in 2009 was another player the Vikings singled out and were hoping would drop to them at No. 22. One of the assistant coaches told me they were exploring every possible reason why not to take him and, after Childress went down to Gainesville to meet with Harvin, the decision was made to definitely draft him if he was available.
Then you have the case this year of the Vikings definitely being set on taking Matt Kalil. Unless they would get a deal similar to the one the Rams got from Washington for the No. 2 pick, people around the team told me there was no way the Vikings were going to give up on Kalil, and only made the trade with the Browns because they knew the USC tackle would be available at No. 4.
Safety Harrison Smith of Notre Dame, who the Vikings scouts rated the equal of any safety available, was another guy the team really wanted, and they moved back into the first round, at No. 29, to get him last night.
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