Young Vikings show promise in opener

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 14, 2011 - 11:43 PM

Rick Spielman said he liked what he saw from some of the team's draft picks against the Titans on Saturday.

hide

Vikings VP of player personnel Rick Spielman

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Before reviewing the tape of the Vikings' 14-3 loss at Tennessee in their preseason opener, one of the bright spots that Vikings Vice President Rick Spielman said he saw from Saturday night was the play of the team's top two draft picks, quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

"I thought Ponder showed some poise, the one thing I think you see with Christian is that he does have some athletic ability to escape the pressure and he does a pretty good job throwing the ball when he has to improvise on the move," Spielman said Sunday. "I'm very excited about the things Ponder showed us."

Ponder, the first-round pick out of Florida State, completed eight of 13 passes for 84 yards with no interceptions in his first game experience as a pro.

As for Rudolph, the second-rounder out of Notre Dame, Spielman said: "I don't think there is any doubt that he is one of the best athletes the Vikings have drafted. You are going to see some great tight end plays by this young man."

Overall, Spielman said he believed there were some positive performances in Saturday's game, along with some negatives.

"I think everybody realizes we have a lot of work to do before the San Diego opener [Sept. 11]," Spielman said. "But I know the coaches have a great game plan and how they will implement things. By the time we hit San Diego, hopefully we'll be at full stride."

When asked about the offensive line, a unit that could be a critical one for the team, Spielman said: "A lot of those interior linemen and stuff, we'll be able to see a little bit closer when we get a chance to review and grade the tape."

Defensively, one player who seemed to do well was fourth-round pick Christian Ballard, a lineman out of Iowa.

"Christian has had a very strong camp," Spielman said. "We've moved him inside, he's played both defensive end and defensive tackle in college. We're going to slide him inside to play behind Kevin Williams a little bit. I think he's going to be a pretty good player, and you could see some of the pass-rushing ability he has."

Spielman also liked what he saw of linebacker Erin Henderson, the brother of starting middle linebacker E.J. Henderson. Spielman said the younger Henderson had a very productive game.

"Erin and Jasper [Brinkley] are kind of battling over there for the Will linebacker spot to fill in since we lost Ben Leber," Spielman said. "Erin has done that since he's been here, he's always been very productive in the preseason. When he gets his opportunities, he has a natural instinct to locate the ball. I just think that he has to have his chance and if he keeps continuing to show, we'll be fine at that linebacker position."

Booker impresses

Lorenzo Booker, the running back the Vikings picked up out of the United Football League last year, had a good night but didn't have a lot of chances as a running back.

He saw most of his action with the team last December as a kick returner. Spielman said Booker is a different type of back than Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart. "He's a smaller back that's a quick scat-back type that showed some bursts of speed and he can be effective catching the ball out of the backfield in some third-down situations," Spielman said.

As for some of the undrafted free agents who are with the Vikings, Spielman said a few have stood out: Allen Reisner, a tight end from Iowa; Devon Torrence, a cornerback from Ohio State; and Matt Asiata, a fullback from Utah.

No doubt the Vikings have some holes to fill, so it is encouraging to hear Spielman, a very good judge of talent, say that the club might have added some players who can solve that problem.

Seals meet with U

Jerry Kill wanted the Gophers to learn how to be tough, so he recruited two people associated with the U.S. Navy SEALs -- Dave Morrison, who was a captain, and Mark Courrier, a former special warfare operator master chief -- to speak to the team Friday.

Also on Friday, 79-year-old Roger French, who has coached at Minnesota, Wisconsin and Brigham Young, among other places, attended Gophers practice. French, a good judge of what goes on at a football practice, said he had never seen coaches and players work harder. French, whose most recent head coaching job was at Minneapolis Henry High School, will serve as volunteer coach for Minnetonka coach Dave Nelson this season.

Jottings

• The tentative 2012 Twins schedule has them opening at Baltimore on April 5 with the home opener against the Angels on April 9. ... The Twins have finalized plans with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission for the return of TwinsFest to the Metrodome Jan. 27-29. The event was held at the National Sports Center in Blaine last year after the Metrodome roof collapse.

• John Gordon, the longtime Twins radio announcer retiring after 26 years here, will be honored Sept. 17 when the Twins play host to Cleveland. ... Twins President Dave St. Peter will be in Fort Myers, Fla., next week as Lee County selects an architectural firm for potential renovations to the Twins' spring training facility. The Twins, who have a lease to play at the Lee County Sports Complex through 2020, hope to have the first phase of the renovations in place prior to the spring of 2013. ... The Twins will commence their 2012 season ticket campaign the week of Aug. 29. The team's current season-ticket base stands at 25,000, with a waiting list of 3,000.

 Gophers basketball standout Trevor Mbakwe had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds as Team USA won its first game of the World University Games, beating Mexico 108-67 in China. He had five points and nine rebounds in Sunday's 102-53 victory over Hungary.

• Daunte Culpepper, who put on some great shows with Randy Moss during their days with the Vikings, is going to get a tryout with the San Francisco 49ers.

• One reason the Brewers are leading the National League Central is the fact that former Twins pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, at age 38, is one of the stars of their bullpen, with a 1.67 ERA in 40 games.

• St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was happy to sign Leber last week. Spagnuolo was linebackers coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006 when Leber signed with the Vikings. "We tried like heck to get him [in 2006]," Spagnuolo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I've always admired the way he plays. He's coming from a good system [in Minnesota]."

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

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: D. O`Day 3
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 28 FINAL
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 9/15/14 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings defense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close