Hartman: Kalil pleased with progress

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 24, 2012 - 11:53 AM

 The top Vikings rookie is ready for a heavy load against the Chargers in Friday's tuneup.

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Vikings rookie tackle Matt Kalil

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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Matt Kalil believes he has graded out pretty well this preseason, but the Vikings' No. 1 draft choice from Southern California is looking forward to Friday's game with San Diego, which will be the closest thing to a normal game that he'll play before the regular season.

"We'll play all the way up until I think the beginning of the third quarter," said the new starting left tackle. "It'll be the most plays that I've played so far in a single NFL game.

"I thought I did pretty well [in the first two preseason games]. I'm looking to this next game to get more playing time and play the whole first half. I'm excited for it."

Kalil said that he is preparing for this week like he would for any other game. He said he always tries to get his mind right before a game and have a good week of practice leading up to it. But Kalil did mention that the difference between college and pro practices has been somewhat surprising.

"It's definitely not like college. College is more emphasis on being physical and having those hard-knock practices," Kalil said. "[Pro practices] are definitely a whole other mental aspect of the game, a lot lower tempo. We're still going hard at times, but it's a lot more to soak in, more plays, more concepts, so the mental aspect [is different]. I've been coming along great, having veterans on the offensive line to help me along, but I think that's been the biggest surprise for me."

He said going against Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen in practice definitely has helped Kalil's confidence a lot.

"Going into games, knowing that I've faced the best defensive end [in the NFL], I feel a lot more confident and ready to play," he said.

"I've done pretty well [against Allen]. I mean, he's one of the best to ever play the game, so he gets me every day. But he's only making me better just because of what a great pass rusher he is and great player he is. He has a lot of different moves and things he can do that I've never seen before. It kind of prepares me for games.

"It has been pretty tough, but it has been fun, too. I think I have done well. I just work on getting better every day and improving anything I can."

What's making it more interesting for Kalil is the chance to play next to former Southern California tight end Rhett Ellison, who the coaches say is one of the big surprises of the exhibition season and will play a lot this year as a rookie.

"Yeah, a college teammate -- and it has been fun having him be drafted onto the same team; he's a great player," Kalil said about the Vikings' fourth-round draft choice.

"He's doing well. He's going to be here for a long time. The chemistry is there after playing four years in college together and being on the same NFL team. He's a great player, and we work well together."

General Manager Rick Spielman and company made zero mistakes in this year's draft, and Kalil and Ellison are two of the great choices that were made.

Stadium roof situation

Under terms of the Vikings stadium bill passed by the Legislature, the new football stadium will have a full, fixed roof.

However, Gov. Mark Dayton, here is my message to you: If you want a first-class stadium, it must have a retractable roof. The Wilf family, owners of the Vikings, are paying $477 million (49 percent) toward the stadium's $975 million price tag, with the team having the option of paying for a retractable roof.

What is interesting is that early estimates of the additional cost of a retractable roof are between $50 million and $60 million, according to Vikings officials.

Yes, Mr. Dayton, after doing the great job you did getting the stadium bill passed, I challenge you now, if necessary, to find a way for the state to pay the difference in cost for the retractable roof so on beautiful days we really can enjoy a Vikings game or an event -- just like the fans in Indianapolis, where Lucas Oil Stadium has a great retractable roof, and in Milwaukee, where Brewers baseball fans have the same luxury at Miller Park.

Jottings

• The Twins will be responsible for a payroll of about $76 million going into next season, which will include $8.5 million guaranteed to pitcher Nick Blackburn ($5.5 million) and shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka ($3 million), who recently were taken off the 40-man roster and might not be with the club next year. One good thing is that the team has only four players -- second baseman Alexi Casilla, who is out of options, and pitchers Alex Burnett, Brian Duensing and Jared Burton -- who are arbitration-eligible. Of the group, Burton likely will be the only one to get a decent raise.

• Jeremias Pineda, the player the Twins received from the Red Sox for Danny Valencia, has hit .231 with two RBI in 14 games with the Gulf Coast League Twins. Before the trade, Pineda was hitting .421 with 22 RBI in 36 games for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox.

• Working for the Vikings as assistant to the head coach is Cameron Turner, nephew of Norv Turner, whose Chargers team will face the Vikings on Friday. Cameron Turner, who played football and coached at the Citadel, has never worked for his uncle but has talked a lot of football with him.

• The NBA Cares has joined local Starkey Hearing Technologies on the its mission to China, where 6,000 hearing aids will be given out free to children and adults in the city of Chengdu.

• While UNLV will start Nick Sherry, a redshirt freshman, at quarterback against the Gophers next week, it does have the benefit of bringing back its entire starting offensive line from last season. Brett Boyko, Yusef Rodgers, Cameron Jefferson, Doug Zismann and Robert Waterman are the starting five, and they played the final seven games of the year together in 2011, going 1-6. The Rebels averaged 164.1 yards per game rushing last year, ranking 48th in the country.

• The Miami Herald reported that former Cretin-Derham Hall standout offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson returned to camp for the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday after attending his second funeral in a month for a childhood friend in Minnesota.

The Herald also said that Henderson, a junior this season, is not on the team's depth chart and is doubtful for the season opener against Boston College.

• Righthander Kyle Gibson will start Saturday for the Rochester Red Wings, another nice sign for the Twins' first-round pick from 2009 in his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

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

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