Sid Hartman: Turner liked what he saw from Gray with Browns

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2014 - 12:32 AM

Having spent time with MarQueis Gray in 2013, Norv Turner is happy the Vikings brought him in.


MarQueis Gray saw action in 12 games with the Cleveland Browns last year.

Photo: Duane Burleson, Associated Press

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As offensive coordinator for the Browns last season, Norv Turner saw enough of MarQueis Gray to recommend that the Vikings pick him up after the former Gophers quarterback was waived Saturday.

Making the Cleveland roster last year as an undrafted free agent, Gray played tight end and had six carries for 43 yards and two receptions for 9 yards in 12 games. He also had two special-teams tackles.

“Well, everyone says I wanted to bring him here, but our scouts had great grades on him,” said Turner, now the Vikings offensive coordinator. “He became available, really didn’t fit what they were trying to do in Cleveland, and we saw him as a young, aspiring player who we project as a guy that can be a tight end that has a lot of strengths. He can run, catch — he can run with the football, he can throw the football. He’s a multitalented athlete.”

The Browns picked up Gray after San Francisco cut him following last year’s preseason. Turner said that it took some time, but eventually Gray worked his way into the lineup.

“He played quite a bit. We used him the last five or six games,” he said. “We had some injuries at tight end and he played quite a bit. We used him at quarterback. We had a Wildcat package with him, so we’ll be able to do that here. There’s a multitude of things we can do with him.”

Asked why Gray couldn’t make the Browns roster this year, Turner, who departed for the Vikings staff this year after Rob Chudzinski was fired as Cleveland coach following only one season, said: “They’re just kind of going in a different direction. I don’t know that it’s a surprise. He’s a young player, and he probably fits what we do a little better than what they’re doing.”

Turner described how he sees the Vikings using the 6-4, 220-pound Gray.

“We’re going to get him up to speed, get him to where he knows everything and then just mix him in as soon as he gets ready,” Turner said. “But like I said, he can run, he can catch, he got better in pass protection, so he’s a guy that should be able to contribute.”

Excited for Week 1

Turner said that while he was pleased with the Vikings’ 4-0 preseason, he knows it is all merely prelude to their season-opening matchup with the Rams in St. Louis.

“The whole thing changes when the regular season starts,” he said. “You’re playing the entire game against their 1s [first-teamers], your 1s the entire game, people game-plan a lot harder against you. But I like what our guys have done, and I still believe we have a talented young group that is going to keep getting better. I expect us to be a lot better in December than we are now. But I think we’re ready to play.”

While Adrian Peterson didn’t play a single snap in the preseason, Turner believes that shouldn’t affect his ability to perform right away.

“Adrian has had great practices,” he said of the 2012 NFL MVP. “Our guys have been trying to strip the ball from him, grabbing him, banging him a little bit, he’s fresh, excited, and I can’t wait to see him go.”

Turner, who used four starting quarterbacks last season with Cleveland, said he was happy the Vikings were able to keep Christian Ponder on the 53-man roster and liked what he saw out of the former starter in the preseason finale at Tennessee.

“He played really good,” Turner said. “I thought he played the way I expect him to and the way he is capable of playing. He was accurate, he was quick with the ball, he made good decisions. It was good for him and good for all of us. This league, it’s a long year, and all you have to do is look at Green Bay last year, they lost [Aaron] Rodgers for seven weeks and it took a toll on their season and they struggled to get done what they wanted to do when Rodgers wasn’t in there. Having three quarterbacks is a big bonus to me.”

Turner said even though Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is injured again, the Vikings will have a real test in Week 1.

“They’re good,” he said. “They were second in the league in sacks by their defensive linemen. Their front four is outstanding. They’re fast, faster down there on the turf. We have to go in and handle a hostile environment. We have to be smart. The best thing we did in preseason was we protected the ball. We only had one turnover. We’ve got to take care of the ball, protect the quarterback and we have to go play four full quarters.”

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
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NY Giants
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Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
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Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 96 4th Qtr 5:15
Brooklyn 80
New Orleans 98 4th Qtr 0:44
Chicago 106
Atlanta 64 3rd Qtr 2:26
Milwaukee 58
Philadelphia 32 3rd Qtr
Utah 44
New York 2 1st Qtr 10:10
Sacramento 2
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 3rd Prd 14:38
St. Louis 2
Philadelphia 1 3rd Prd 11:07
Nashville 3
Anaheim 1 3rd Prd 8:13
Arizona 1
Chicago 2 2nd Prd 13:36
Colorado 2
Edmonton 0 1st Prd 17:31
Calgary 0
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
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St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 43 2nd Half 2:38
Tennessee 61
Kennesaw St 18 2nd Half 18:30
Illinois 57
Colorado State 24 2nd Half 16:17
New Mexico St 30
Portland 37 2nd Half 11:34
San Diego 37
Wayland Baptist 38 2nd Half 15:31
Utah State 44
Bristol University 39 2nd Half 15:20
Weber State 67
Sacramento St 43 2nd Half 14:30
Utah Valley U 38
Southern Utah 7 1st Half 15:32
SD Christian 4 1st Half 16:30
San Diego St 8
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 17 3rd Qtr
(24) USC 24
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(18) Clemson
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(1) Alabama
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Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
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(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
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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 NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




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