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.”

MTSU likes chances

Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Stockstill was asked this week about facing the Gophers and a Big Ten opponent.

“I think we’re competitive against everybody,” said Stockstill, whose Blue Raiders opened the season with a 61-7 victory over FCS team Savannah State. “Sure, we’ve had some mismatches against some schools that we’ve played. I don’t look at it as competitive against the Big Ten or the ACC. We’ve had chances to win some games against the Big Ten, SEC and ACC. We’ve beaten them sometimes and we haven’t the others. We are getting better as a program. We are getting better as a team. We are not in awe. We are not going to be in awe in going up there to Minnesota. We’ll approach it just like we do any game.”

The Gophers played their opener at Middle Tennessee State in 2010, winning 24-17 in what was the final victory for coach Tim Brewster before he was fired when a six-game losing streak followed.


• One reason the Gophers had one of their biggest student turnouts for their opener last Thursday was that coach Jerry Kill spoke to freshmen the day before, encouraging them to come to the game free of charge with hope they would buy season tickets.

• Twins pitcher Phil Hughes, who signed a three-year contract for $24 million, can earn up to an additional $1 million for innings pitched. He already has earned a $250,000 bonus for pitching 180 innings, gets another $250,000 for pitching 195 innings and gets $500,000 for reaching 210. Hughes has never pitched more than 200 innings in a season. At 15-9, he still has a chance to become the Twins’ first 20-game winner since Johan Santana in 2004. Asked about Hughes’ success after struggling in New York, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said: “Well, he did win with the Yankees. He had one bad year out there [in 2013], but he actually put together a really good year the year before that. It just comes back to he’s back to the basics now.”

• Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio isn’t being asked to shoot much for Spain at the FIBA World Cup, but he is playing great all-around basketball. He is averaging 5.8 assists, 2.5 steals, 5.0 rebounds and 3.8 points per game through four games with Spain, which is 4-0 in the tournament and looks like the lone challenger to the United States squad.


Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. •

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Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 10 1st Qtr 0:04
Atlanta 0
Detroit 0 1st Qtr 2:28
Green Bay 7
Oakland 0 1st Qtr 5:19
Denver 10
Arizona 7 1st Qtr 2:57
San Francisco 7
St. Louis 3 1st Qtr 1:56
Seattle 0
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
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TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
Detroit 7 1st Qtr 5:40
Cleveland 13
Houston 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 6:30 PM
New York 8:00 PM
Toronto 8:00 PM
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4:00 PM
Vancouver 7:00 PM
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
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Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
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Marquette 81
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Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 39 2nd Half 6:14
High Point 71
Texas Southern 43 2nd Half 4:01
Kansas State 48
Rutgers 57 2nd Half 0:06
Monmouth 57
NC Wesleyan 50 2nd Half 1:26
NC A&T 50
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 60 2nd Half 3:00
Radford 115
Bowling Green 72 2nd Half 2:23
South Florida 65
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 58 2nd Half 14:00
Arkansas 65
Saint Peters 15 2nd Half
Cornell 17
St Katherine 29 2nd Half
Fresno State 52
Haskell 20 1st Half 1:26
Oral Roberts 40
Wake Forest 33 2nd Half
Richmond 25
Fla Gulf Coast 23 1st Half 2:35
Xavier 36
SD Christian 13 2nd Half
Northern Ariz 42
Judson 0 1st Half 19:24
IUPU-Ft Wayne 0
Ill-Chicago 4:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland 4:00 PM
Miss Valley St 4:00 PM
Lehigh 4:00 PM
Delaware State 4:00 PM
Belmont 5:00 PM
Howard 5:00 PM
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UC Davis 5:00 PM
Washington St
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Grand Canyon
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Stony Brook 7:00 PM
Buffalo 7:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
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 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
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West Virginia
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(18) Clemson
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(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
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(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
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(12) Arizona
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(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
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IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
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Saint Josephs 67
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Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
UNC Greensboro 47 2nd Half 6:17
LSU 69
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Coppin State 50
Lamar 59 2nd Half 1:53
Rice 94
Penn State 48 2nd Half 3:18
(23) Iowa 70
Purdue 51 2nd Half 3:11
Illinois 49
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 40 2nd Half 2:59
Wichita State 64
South Dakota 59 2nd Half 11:13
TX-San Antonio 46
(4) Notre Dame 38 1st Half 1:00
Coll of Charleston 20 2nd Half
SC State 41
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Texas-El Paso 21
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Niagara 28
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Siena 14
Michigan 21 2nd Half
Wisconsin 28
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CS-Northridge 17
Yale 8 1st Half 13:07
(25) Arizona State 9
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(16) Stanford
Long Island 4:00 PM
Long Beach St
Jackson State 4:00 PM
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Western Ill
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(22) Syracuse
Temple 7:30 PM
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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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