Hartman: Hutchinson ready to battle vs. buddies

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 5, 2012 - 7:38 AM

The former Vikings guard, now with the Titans, expects a spirited clash in the trenches against former teammates.

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Former Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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After playing against guard Steve Hutchinson in practices and scrimmages for four years, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen doesn't expect an easy job for the defensive line when the Tennessee Titans come to the Metrodome on Sunday.

"He'll be on my side [of the line]," Allen said. "It's probably going to be funny, probably be laughing -- well, he doesn't laugh during games, he's a grumpy old son of a gun. It'll be fun playing against him. I always enjoyed playing against Steve, even when I wasn't on the Vikings. Hutch is a big strong guy.

"He's one of the best guards to ever play this game, in my personal opinion. It's always fun to play against your buddies. They're going to be competitive. I know both him and [Titans left tackle Michael] Roos pretty well. It's always fun, you get a little bragging rights. Hopefully we can win and I can have bragging rights for however long until next time."

Hutchinson, who signed a three-year contract with the Titans after being released by the Vikings last March, said he still has a lot of respect for Allen, defensive tackle Kevin Williams and linebacker Chad Greenway.

"Jared and Kevin and Greenway, there's a lot of guys on that team that I'm still close with," Hutchinson said. "They're moving around. You watch them on film and they're flying around and making plays. There's really no dropoff there from, in my opinion, what the 2009 defense looked like. They're flying around and causing turnovers and all that stuff, they're a good unit."

When it comes to his blocking assignments on Sunday, Hutchinson will spend most of the time facing Williams and fellow defensive tackles Letroy Guion and Fred Evans on the inside.

"Kevin and I practiced against each other every day for however many years?" Hutchinson said. "Then even before that, when he was younger and of course I was younger, we played against each other a couple of times when I was with the Seahawks. But like I said, I'm good friends with a lot of those guys and it will be a good battle."

Hutchinson says he wasn't surprised to be released after completing six of the seven years on his contract because the Vikings were going younger, but he felt he played pretty well last year until he suffered a concussion in the Saints game and missed the last two games.

Asked about the Titans, Hutchinson said: "We're still trying to figure out our identity. Not the record we want, we're 1-3, but we have a lot of talent on this team. We have a lot of young players that are working hard and we're just all trying to get on the same page. As soon as we can get everything to click consistently, I think we're going to be pretty good.

"It will be a good test for us. [The Metrodome is] always a hard place to play. I played there before in the past when I was with Seattle. It's a loud place and the success that they're having this year, being 3-1, the fans should be into it and rightfully so. The last few years weren't that great, so I'm sure the fans will be happy."

Molitor available

The Pohlad family, owners of the Twins dating back to father Carl, have been great boosters of Hall of Famer and St. Paul native Paul Molitor. And some in the Twins front office, in addition to the Pohlads, would like to have Molitor on the field as a part of the new Twins coaching staff.

Now for the first time, Molitor has intimated that he'd be interested in interviewing for a job with the Twins. This is a different approach than Molitor has taken in the past, when he has turned down several opportunities to be a coach or manager. Molitor says he hasn't yet heard from anyone in the organization.

And since the entire coaching staff except for pitching coach Rick Anderson has either been fired or reassigned, look for Molitor to be approached again and don't be surprised if he puts on a Twins uniform next season.

The Twins' shakeup of coaches included firing bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, first base coach Jerry White and third base coach Steve Liddle and reassigning bench coach Scott Ullger and hitting coach Joe Vavra. It's a good bet the 2013 Twins coaching staff will include former Twin Tom Brunansky, moving up from Class AAA Rochester to be the batting coach, and Rochester manager Gene Glynn. Also expected to move up from Rochester and become bullpen coach is Red Wings pitching coach Bobby Cuellar.

Jottings

• The Vikings' Percy Harvin, in his fourth year in the NFL, has five career kickoff returns for touchdowns after his 105-yard return last Sunday against the Lions. Only Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Gale Sayers had more kickoff returns for touchdowns (six) during his first four seasons. They also are the only two players in NFL history with 20 or more touchdowns from scrimmage and five or more TDs on returns in their first four seasons.

• NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell not only will be at Sunday's Vikings-Titans game but on Monday morning he will address a group of area business leaders. Goodell also might find time to meet Gov. Mark Dayton and express his thanks for helping to get the Vikings stadium bill passed.

• Twins President Dave St. Peter reported that the club has had good luck with weather at Target Field over the past three years, with only one game suspended and four games postponed.

• Adam Clark, director of player personnel for the Gophers football team, will run in Sunday's Twin Cities Marathon.

• Nigel Hayes, a 6-7 power forward from Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio, is at the top of the Gophers basketball team's recruiting list for 2013. In addition to Minnesota, Hayes has visited Wisconsin and Stanford and will make a decision after visiting Ohio State this weekend.

• Former Gophers wrestler Zach Sanders and the Gophers' reigning NCAA heavyweight champion, Tony Nelson, participated in the World University Championships in Kourtane, Finland, this past week while representing the USA. Sanders finished second and Nelson finished fifth.

• Henry Ellenson, the 6-9 brother of Gophers freshman guard Wally Ellenson from Rice Lake, Wis., and Amir Coffey, a 6-3 freshman guard at Hopkins, have received invitations to the 2012 USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team minicamp this weekend at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. There will be 46 candidates competing for a chance to play with future USA teams.

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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