Hartman: Vikings draft picks make contributions

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2013 - 12:36 AM

Rookies such as Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson will be used more and more.

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Cordarrelle Patterson 84 returned the opening kickoff for a 105 yards during NFL action between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field Sunday September 15, 2013 in Chicago , IL.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was asked what he thought about the contributions from some of the team’s 2013 draft picks so far this season.

“Well, we have some young guys that are playing well for us,” he said. “[Defensive tackle] Sharrif Floyd has really come along and gave us some good snaps. [Cornerback] Xavier Rhodes has done a good job for us. I like what [wide receiver] Cordarrelle Patterson has done as a kick return guy. We have some guys that are contributing; we just have to put it all together as a team.”

So far this season, Floyd has a pass deflection and one tackle while seeing limited time in a backup role on the defensive line. Patterson provided a glimpse of his explosiveness with a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Bears on Sunday and has three receptions for 24 yards receiving and two first downs in two games. Rhodes has four tackles this season and also made a tremendous pass deflection late against the Bears, but the play didn’t count because of a penalty.

Frazier also said he is waiting to judge whether this team will improve over last year’s squad, which went 10-6 and made the playoffs.

“I hope [we’re better],” he said. “Our record doesn’t show it right now, but we’ll see. It’s a long season. We have a lot more football to play. We’ll see when the season is over.

“It’s one game at a time. We need to get this Cleveland Browns game and go from there.”

Good QB at San Jose St.

Last season San Jose State was an offensive juggernaut, averaging 34.8 points per game. Quarterback David Fales completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns against nine interceptions for a 170.8 quarterback rating.

Those statistics put Fales in position to be a high NFL draft pick next season, but through two games this year the Spartans have started a little slower.

They defeated a paltry Sacramento State team 24-0 in their home opener, then lost to top-10-ranked Stanford 34-13 two weeks ago. Fales has completed 45 of 75 passes for 441 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

San Jose State coach Ron Caragher was asked by the San Jose Mercury News this week if he’s concerned about the offense’s slow start.

“I’m not into statistics and fancy numbers,” Caragher said. “I just want the offense to execute. I think we’ve been close on a few additional big plays in both games. I think once we get those, it’ll be real exciting for our team. I’m confident we will. Things will click. It’s just a matter of when.”

Prep coaches for Kill

Ron Stolski, executive director of the Minnesota Football Coaches Association, said members of his organization are big boosters of Gophers football coach Jerry Kill, and that Kill’s four epileptic seizures on game day during his three years at the U won’t change their support.

Stolski, who has coached high school football in Minnesota for 52 years and in Brainerd for 39 years, wrote: “The Minnesota Football Coaches Association [MFCA] has existed for over sixty years. During that time it has forged a strong relationship with the University of Minnesota and its football coaching staff. Through the over six decades, we have never had a better relationship or better leader than Jerry Kill. Coach Kill has been relentless in his support of and for football in Minnesota. His energy, enthusiasm and influence is true and unconditional. … He is respected throughout the country as one of the best leaders and coaches in the nation.”

Stolski’s e-mail continued: “The MFCA is thankful for coach Kill. We respect his ability and integrity. We applaud his will and desire to help his players become better men, better sons, better husbands. We appreciate his leadership in teaching the game within the game. We endorse and support his efforts to make all of Minnesota proud of the Golden Gophers.”

Jottings

• The Wilf family, owners of the Vikings, are taking all team employees to London for the game against Pittsburgh on Sept. 29. The players’ plane will leave Monday and the football employees will leave Thursday. … Steve LaCroix, Vikings vice president of sales and marketing, reports that the team has sold 8,000 new season tickets this year.

• Former Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray will be the No. 3 tight end on the Browns’ depth chart for the game against the Vikings on Sunday. Gray has yet to appear in a game for Cleveland, but with the Browns offense changing so much this week, maybe he’ll get in at the Metrodome.

• Andre McDonald, the highly recruited Hopkins wide receiver who was a freshman for the Gophers last year and took part in spring practice, is no longer in school and could go to a junior college so he can be scholastically eligible at Minnesota or another school. … According to Gophers deputy athletic director David Benedict, Saturday’s football game against San Jose State is 600 tickets from a sellout. The Minnesota athletic department donated 2,000 tickets.

•  Isaiah Whitehead, the 6-4 shooting guard out of New York City, was one of the Gophers’ top recruiting targets for 2014, but he made a surprising commitment Thursday by deciding to play for Seton Hall over the Gophers, Indiana, Pittsburgh and St. John’s.

• The Baltimore Orioles have been using former Twin Danny Valencia as an occasional designated hitter, primarily letting him hit against lefthanded starters, and that move is paying off. From Aug.19 through Sept. 18, Valencia has played in 16 games and is hitting .464 [26-for-56] with three home runs, seven doubles, one triple, 11 RBI and eight runs scored.

• Former Twin Denard Span has the longest hitting streak in baseball this year, a streak he extended to 29 games Wednesday night. It’s the longest streak since Dan Uggla hit in 33 consecutive games for the Marlins in 2011. During the streak Span has hit .371 [46-for-124] with five doubles, two triples, two home runs, nine RBI, 20 runs scored and seven stolen bases.

• Dylan Malmquist, a top hockey prospect from Edina, has committed to Notre Dame. … Former Gopher Jordan Schroeder is being given the chance to earn the No. 3 center spot for the Vancouver Canucks.

• Good news for the Gophers baseball team: Money to put up lights at Siebert Field in time for next season has almost been raised.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM 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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