Hartman: Vikings' Sullivan feels confident

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 25, 2013 - 12:20 AM
hide

Center John Sullivan is the one who starts things for the Vikings offense, and he’s feeling good about the team’s starting point this season because he is healthy and his offensive linemates are all back from last season.

Photo: MCKENNA EWEN • Star Tribune file,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

It was some sort of miracle that Adrian Peterson came just 9 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s rushing record last season with the anchor of the Vikings offensive line, center John Sullivan, blocking on a knee that needed surgery in the offseason. While Sullivan, the humble person he is, says that he was never injured, he does admit that “it was more of a degenerative condition in my knee that, once the season was over, needed to be taken care of.”

“Well it was a situation where I would play through it but there was some pain,” he explained. “I had some issues in the range of motion with my knee. So it was determined by the doctors that the best course of action was just to get it fixed in the offseason.”

Sullivan does admit that because of the surgery he missed a lot of the offseason conditioning, “but I feel like I’m getting better each and every day. So yeah, we’ll see how 2013 goes.”

So with a Sullivan who is 100 percent healthy and maybe the best center in the NFL, there is reason to think the Vikings can improve on their overall offensive production in 2013.

Along that same line, Sullivan is optimistic that Peterson will continue to run up big numbers because every starter from the 2012 offensive line is back.

“Continuity is huge,” the former Notre Dame player said. “We’re very happy that we have all five starters returning, but we just need to keep going out and working every single day to get better.”

Asked whether this team can match or exceed last season’s 10-6 record that got it in the playoffs, Sullivan said: “It is hard to put expectations. We’re striving to be the best team that we can be, and that would mean better than 10-6.”

Sullivan believes that, as happened in 2012, the 2013 draftees are going to contribute greatly.

“Three first-round picks, obviously our front office did a great job. I like all three of the first-rounders for sure. Cordarrelle [Patterson, receiver] has looked great in the return game and has very strong hands in the receiving game,” Sullivan said. “Xavier [Rhodes] has made some big plays out there [in the secondary], made a big one against Buffalo. I know Sharrif [Floyd] has dealt with some [injuries] recently, but he’s a force there on the inside and he’s only going to get better as he gets older.”

Speaking about his opinion regarding the value of the preseason games. Sullivan said: “It’s not that they don’t mean anything. They are opportunities to go out there and get better, but you can’t read too much into the outcomes.”

Sullivan said there has been a lot more planning for the 49ers game than there was for the previous two games.

“Obviously it’s the third week so your starters play the most,” he said. “But at the same time it is a preseason game. We’re coming back tomorrow and playing against the Vikings defense, not San Francisco’s. That’s just the way it goes right now.”

Does Sullivan think this season can be one of his best?

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m striving to be a better player in 2013 than I have ever been in my career.”

Grant nearly three-time Vikings coach

Three people I respect a lot as coaches — Bud Grant, Lou Holtz and Bobby Knight — have written some of the best sports and motivation books that I have read.

Naturally, I’m a little prejudiced because all three are good friends. But Knight and Grant have come out with terrific new books recently.

Grant has an interesting item in his book, “I Did It My Way,” which tells the story about Grant’s potential opportunity to succeed Mike Tice as Vikings head coach in 2005. Negotiations didn’t go far because team owner Red McCombs couldn’t come close to matching the salary Grant wanted.

In the book Grant says he wanted to be paid $1 less than the highest-paid coach in the NFL at the time. Grant told McCombs, “I was a head coach for 28 years and we won many championships and went to four Super Bowls, so that’s my counteroffer.”

But McCombs and the Vikings simply couldn’t pay Grant that much money.

The truth is that Grant also turned down the opportunity to be the first Vikings coach when he was working in the Canadian Football League for Winnipeg and also received a formal offer to coach the Lions, which he turned down.

Kill sees players make big jump

Gophers football coach Jerry Kill was asked which players have really improved their standings on the depth chart going into the season opener against UNLV on Thursday.

“Off the top of my head, we’ve had a lot of guys,” Kill said. “Roland Johnson [defensive lineman] has played really well. He is coming off that knee surgery and he really dominated at the line of scrimmage, I thought. [Thieren] Cockran [defensive end] has stood out in camp and has really rose up to the top of the depth chart.

“The two junior college linebackers … I mean, you walk out on the practice field and Damien Wilson and De’Vondre Campbell — it’s easy to spot those guys. We’ve had a lot of guys get better. Marcus Jones is playing in the secondary... and showed the speed he had when he first got here. He’ll be a big influence on special teams.”

SID’s JOTTINGS
• For a while during the Twins season, the rumors were strong that Ron Gardenhire would not be back with the Twins. But if you are a betting man now, make a bet that Gardenhire will be back again next season, likely with a one-year contract and some type of option.

• Mark Dienhart was the senior vice president
at St. Thomas for the past five years, and has been at the university in various major roles since 2001. In his time the Tommies became a power in almost every sport because of his ability to hire the right coaches and make sure programs were run the right way. But now he has left that position to run the Schultz Family Foundation, so the future of St. Thomas athletics should be interesting.

• The Timberwolves have 14 players under contract now and have a 15th spot for another player. “We’re going to probably bring guys in at training camp and let those guys really kind of fight it out for that last spot,” said Flip Saunders, team president. “[Robbie] Hummell is going to be one of those guys that we plan on coming in, [Lorenzo] Brown is going to come in, too, that one last spot, unless there’s some potential trade that happens.”

• Yes, the big three of Tyus Jones of Apple Valley, Rashad Vaughn of Findlay Prep in Las Vegas and formerly of Cooper, and Reid Travis of DeLaSalle have been getting the big write-ups of the 2014 class of recruits. But J.P. Macura of Lakeville North has been offered scholarships by Auburn, St. Louis, Butler, Texas Tech, Xavier, Kansas State, Purdue and Minnesota. Incidentally, Travis, an outstanding quarterback, is giving up football because of a leg injury.

• One of the most recruited football players in the
state is Frank Ragnow of Chanhassen. He has either visited to plans to visit Arkansas, Florida State and Nebraska.

 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 115 FINAL
Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
UNLV 75
CS-Northridge 56 FINAL
Oregon 79
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
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 NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close