Sid Hartman: Rosenfels always ready when called

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 25, 2012 - 11:01 PM

The veteran QB returned to the Vikings last season and is content to be a mentor to his younger teammates.

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Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels looked for teammates to celebrate with after his 1-yard touchdown pass to Matt Asiata during Friday night’s preseason game against the Chargers. On the drive, Rosenfels went 6-for-6.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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The Vikings quarterback with the best rating through the first three preseason games is one Sage Rosenfels at 119.3, compared with Christian Ponder at 86.6 and Joe Webb at 62.4.

But Rosenfels is happy with his role as a third-string signal-caller, and he is not unhappy that he signed a contract for that role rather than trying to join a team that needed a top quarterback.

While Rosenfels has played considerably less than Ponder or Webb this preseason, he also has put up the best overall numbers. In the one drive he orchestrated Friday night, he completed all six of his passes for 51 yards and the lone touchdown scored by the Vikings against the Chargers in a 12-10 loss. In the Vikings' second preseason game, he went 4-for-8 for 63 yards against Buffalo, after he didn't play in the preseason opener at San Francisco. Overall, Rosenfels has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 114 yards.

"I'm very happy with my decision to stay here," Rosenfels said. "This is a great franchise, great football team, great group of guys, great coaching staff and it's a great state to not only play in but to live in. I'm very happy I came back here.

"The fans are great; it's a preseason game and they're still into it. It was a preseason game coming off a tough season last year, and they're still into it. It shows the passion that these Vikings fans have for their team."

Rosenfels, 34 and in his 12th season in the NFL, said this about Friday's opportunity: "It was just nice to be out there and execute the offense. Coach [Bill] Musgrave didn't call any new plays or any new concepts, we just did a good job of executing. We held on to the ball, and it was nice to get in the end zone."

Rosenfels first joined the Vikings in 2009 but didn't play thanks to Brett Favre's arrival. Traded to the Giants in 2010, Rosenfels rejoined the Vikings last December and re-signed over the offseason.

Rosenfels doesn't believe he has lost any of his ability to play quarterback at the pro level.

"Oh yeah, I feel like I have a couple of years left in me," he said. "I came out in the same draft class as Drew Brees and Michael Vick, so I'm sort of the veteran on this team, but I still feel like I have a lot of time left in me."

Despite his third-string status, Rosenfels said he prepares as if he will play every game and that if he is not playing he tries to help out the younger quarterbacks or offensive coaches as much as he can.

Rosenfels, a great teacher for Ponder and Webb, believes that once the season starts the quarterback position will be in good hands with those two players.

"We can do a lot of things," he said. "We have a lot of weapons. Coach Musgrave is trying to figure out ways to use them all, and different guys' strengths and weaknesses. At some point we're going to put it all together."

Freshmen to help

Coach Jerry Kill said the Gophers will bring at least eight true freshmen to UNLV for Thursday's opener, and many of them will play. The Gophers lack depth at skill positions, but another reason for playing them rather than redshirting them is that they have great ability.

As of today, the plan is to play receivers Jamel Harbison and Andre McDonald, and either one could start. Also set to play are defensive backs Damarius Travis, Eric Murray and Antonio Johnson and "athlete" K.J. Maye, who figures to play at running back.

Regarding Harbison and McDonald, the Gophers blog FBT wrote about them this past week, calling them the "two of the biggest recruiting coups of Kill's 2012 class. Harbison is very polished for such a young receiver with good upfield quickness, just a knack for making plays. McDonald may already be the best receiver on the roster -- no hyperbole."

Bad for scalpers

In the past, fans who have attended any of the sporting events in the Twin Cities couldn't help but notice a number of scalpers on the streets with signs reading "I need tickets" and reselling the tickets they acquire. If it was a tough ticket, the scalpers would sell for a good profit.

But those days have been few and far between in recent years, with the Wild and Timberwolves continuously missing the playoffs and the Twins now having back-to-back horrible seasons. The same is happening with the Vikings, with no scalpers on the street for either of the two home exhibition games. Good seats for all Vikings games are available -- including the games against the Packers and Bears, which in the past usually would sell in packages with tickets for a game not as in demand.

However, when it comes to the Vikings -- who now need to sell only 90 percent of their tickets to avoid a television blackout, thanks to a new NFL rule -- team President Mark Wilf said, "I'm sure we will be OK" when it comes to regular-season attendance. The Vikings' streak of 146 consecutive sellouts is certain to end when they open the season against Jacksonville.

As for the Wolves, they have broken the 9,000-season-ticket mark for the first time since 2004-05 and aren't giving the tickets away like they did in recent seasons. Every seat in the Wolves' Lexus Courtside Club has been sold for this coming season.

Jottings

• I’ve been in this business since B.C. and I can’t remember two local high school players being recruited nationwide like Tyus Jones of Apple Valley and Rashad Vaughn of Cooper, both coming up in the 2014 recruiting class. Jones is ranked second in the country by ESPN while Vaughn is No. 12. Gophers coach Tubby Smith has a good relationship with both, but when schools like North Carolina, Duke and Kansas are calling, it is tough competition.

• Baseball scouting website Perfect Game USA released its summer college All-America team, and Gophers lefthander Tom Windle made the second team. Windle was playing with Brewster in the Cape Cod League and posted a 2.35 ERA over 38 innings with 47 strikeouts and only seven walks. Windle, who dealt with a shoulder injury last season with the Gophers, could be a first-round draft choice if he continues to pitch as well as he has.

• When Twins catcher Joe Mauer got beaned on a 3-0 count in Thursday night’s loss at Texas, it was the 208th time in his major league career that he either reached base or recorded an out on a 3-0 count. He reached base 205 times — 201 times via walk, twice after being hit by a pitch, and twice via hits — and recorded only three outs.

• Former Gophers football coach Tim Brewster told the Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, Miss., that he reached out to Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen about the Bulldogs’ vacancy at wide receivers coach. “This is something I looked forward to in getting back to coaching because coaching is what I do best and love to do the most,” Brewster said. It’s surprising that even though Brewster worked for Texas coach Mack Brown at North Carolina and for Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan with the Denver Broncos, neither coach showed interest in hiring him after he was fired by Minnesota.
 

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