Sid Hartman: Vikings will try to go without a veteran QB

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2012 - 1:11 PM

By releasing Sage Rosenfels, the team will go into the regular season with three young players under center.

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Coach Leslie Frazier admitted that the Vikings might be in trouble if starting quarterback Christian Ponder (pictured) got hurt, leaving the team with Webb and Bethel-Thompson in reserve.

Photo: Genevieve Ross, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

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To me the biggest surprise of the Vikings final cuts was the release of veteran quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who returned to the team late in the 2011 season, signed to a two-year contract in March and was looked to be a leader and to help in the development of young QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb.

Rosenfels served in that role as a tutor and also had a great preseason when he was called on to perform.

When reached, Rosenfels said he was both surprised and disappointed when he got the news about his release. He didn't want to comment beyond that.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier admitted that Rosenfels was a veteran guy who gave the team a presence in the meeting room and with other players, and that Rosenfels had played well this preseason.

However, Frazier didn't want to gamble asking waivers on young quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, a young free-agent signee who Frazier thought had a good future.

"We felt like [Bethel-Thompson] has tremendous upside," Frazier said. "So we wanted to go with him and give him an opportunity to develop, and we'll see how it works out.

"We really liked his arm strength. He showed that he can make the throws down the field, he can make the throws outside the numbers. The command that he has, the leadership qualities that he has. He has a lot of attributes that we really look for in a quarterback, along with the accuracy as well."

Frazier admitted that the Vikings might be in trouble if starter Ponder got hurt, leaving the team with Webb and Bethel-Thompson in reserve.

"You never know in our business," Frazier said. "You know, right now Joe Webb is our No. 2 quarterback. We're hoping that Joe will continue to progress and get better, but we're going to give Bethel every chance to develop into a good NFL quarterback."

The Vikings are such a young team, you would think they would have kept Rosenfels, a great guy in the locker room and good influence on younger players.

Peterson in doubt

On a more important subject, Frazier said Sunday that he didn't know if running back Adrian Peterson will play Week 1 against Jacksonville.

"We're going to see how he does this week in practice," Frazier said of his star, recovering from torn knee ligaments suffered last December. "He's done a great job in his rehab all the way through. He's champing at the bit to play, as you can imagine. He wants to play in this first game but we'll see how he does this week and then we'll make a decision later this week.

"We won't take any chances with [Peterson]. When we put him out there, it will be because our doctors, our medical staff and our coaches feel like he's ready to go."

Weber leaves Denver

Rather than return to the Denver Broncos practice squad for the second year in a row, Adam Weber chose to depart for a different team instead, joining the practice squad of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"It seems like a better situation when it comes to numbers," the former Gophers quarterback told the Denver Post. "It's all about finding the best situation that allows me to eventually play for real on Sundays. I think there's a good opportunity to compete."

The Buccaneers have only two quarterbacks on their roster in Josh Freeman and Dan Orlovsky, while the Broncos, whom Weber first signed with as an undrafted free agent last year, have three in Peyton Manning, Caleb Hanie and Brock Osweiler. The Post reported there were four teams Weber was considering joining before picking Tampa Bay.

Jottings

• It obviously would have been a big boost to the Vikings' chances of beating the Jaguars next weekend if star Maurice Jones-Drew had continued his holdout into the regular season, but the star running back ended his holdout Sunday without getting a new contract. Jacksonville previously said that Rashad Jennings will start at running back against the Vikings.

• Three former Gophers players signed with the Green Bay Packers as undrafted free agents, but all three of them battled injuries during training camp and failed to make the team. Fullback Jon Hoese was released last week, having not practiced since he injured his hamstring on Aug. 2. Tight end Eric Lair and running back Du'ane Bennett both were placed on injured reserve because of a knee injuries. ... Former Gophers defensive back Tramaine Brock remained on the 49ers roster even though there was some speculation he wouldn't survive the cuts. Brock, who left the Gophers in 2009 and ended up at NAIA Belhaven University, signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent last year and made the team.

• The Gophers suffered a real bad break when freshman Jamel Harbison, who was one of the team's top receivers and started the UNLV game, suffered a knee injury that will put out for the season. However with the injury occurring in the first game, the Charlotte, N.C., native still will be able to take a redshirt and compete four more years after this one.

• New Hampshire, the Gophers' opponent Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, beat Holy Cross 38-17 on Thursday night. The Wildcats will start a redshirt freshman at QB, just like UNLV did, in Sean Goldrich, who passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 71 yards on 10 carries on Thursday.

• For those who secondguess former Twins General Manager Bill Smith for trading shortstop J.J. Hardy to Baltimore, Hardy is hitting .229 this year. However, he has hit 18 home runs.

• Edina's Louie Nanne, a Gophers recruit and Wild draft pick, had his first game as a member of the Penticton Vees, a 4-1 exhibition victory over Wenatchee on Saturday. The regular season starts Friday against Chilliwack.

• Wild majority owner Craig Leipold reported that all of his minor partners pitched in and paid their share of the $10 million signing bonus to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. "We're very happy that all the partners see the vision that we see," Leipold said. "... I was talking with [minority owner] Phil [Falcone] before I made the deal, and it was really about how we're going to try to get one and if we get two it would just be a dream. His position was pretty strong, get them both if you can."

Rivals.com reported this week that Apple Valley standout Tyus Jones will take an official visit to North Carolina in October. This week, he is visiting Baylor where a relative of his -- one Jared Nuness, son of former Gophers player Al -- is director of video operations.

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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