Tarvaris Jackson said he is prepared to lead the Vikings to another winning season if Brett Favre decides to retire from football.

"I'm ready," said Jackson, who has started 19 games at quarterback in four seasons with the Vikings. He was working out Wednesday at the University of Minnesota with a group of NFL players at a camp led by Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald Jr., preparing for the start of Vikings training camp on Friday.

Jackson played eight games last season in relief of Favre, who won't report to Mankato on Thursday because he has not healed yet from ankle surgery. Jackson said he learned a lot from watching the future Hall of Famer.

"Just how to prepare for the game, the work you put in during the week to try to make the game as easy as possible, the little stuff he did to try to win the game, just do things to move the sticks," Jackson said. "Just watching him I got some things that probably subconsciously I've learned; I'll probably do it and not even know it."

Jackson said the two have texted during the offseason.

Jackson is ready to be the full-time starter, so how tough will it be when Favre returns, as expected, in a couple of weeks?

"I've been through this situation a couple of times already, so it's to a point now where I don't want to say I'm used to it, but it's a situation I'm kind of familiar with," Jackson said. "You just know that's how it's going to play out. But it's my job to just be ready for anything and be prepared to play regardless of the situation, that's all I can do."

Favre has made 285 consecutive starts (309 including playoff games), but he ended last season hobbled by injuries and might not make it through a full season in which he turns 41.

"I don't wish any harm on anybody," said Jackson. "But if it's God's will for me to play here, then that's how it's going to be. But right now I'm just preparing for anything and whatever, however it falls, I'm ready for it.

"We've got a championship-type team, so regardless of our individual things that I have going on, I'm a team player, so whatever is best for the team."

Jackson was impressive, throwing some great passes Wednesday while working out with Fitzgerald, who is the best receiver in the NFL.

Valencia hot

Twins rookie third baseman Danny Valencia had a .609 batting average on the seven-game road trip to Baltimore and Kansas City. The Twins went 6-1 behind a big offensive attack led by Valencia, Delmon Young (.531) and Joe Mauer (.480).

Monday, Valencia became the first hitter in Twins history to have his first career home run be a grand slam. In fact the last player to do it in franchise history was pitcher Camilo Pascual, in 1960 as a member of the Washington Senators.

Valencia, who might be the regular third baseman the team has been looking for, became the first Twins rookie to have back-to-back four-hit games.

Valencia was hitting .292 with no home runs and 24 RBI in 49 games when he was recalled from Class AAA Rochester. In 30 games with the Twins, he is hitting .387 with a .441 on-base percentage.


Former Gophers receiver Eric Decker signed a four-year, $2.52 million contract with the Broncos this week that included a $732,000 signing bonus. Decker, a third-round draft pick, was also able to participate in the first day of training camp after being recovering from a foot injury that ended his senior season with the Gophers.

Gophers men's basketball assistant coach Vince Taylor has been reported by several media outlets as a candidate to become the next coach at Illinois-Chicago. The UIC job is open because Jimmy Collins announced his retirement over the summer. Other candidates include Wisconsin assistant Howard Moore, Illinois assistants Jerrance Howard and Jay Price, and former Iowa coach Todd Lickliter.

Ohio State reported 13 NCAA violations between Jan. 1 and July 1, according to the Columbus Dispatch, and four of them concerned the recruiting of Cretin Derham-Hall's Seantrel Henderson. The violations included former player Malcolm Jenkins encouraging Henderson to attend Ohio State and current quarterback Terrelle Pryor texting Henderson with the same message.

The Gophers football team received its 12th commitment for 2011 this week when tight end Peter Westerhaus of Holy Family committed. Westerhaus, who at 6-3 and 205 also plays linebacker, was also highly recruited by Iowa State.

Vikings chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix reports the team is almost finished with its renewal process, and will end up with 94 percent of season ticket holders renewing. The team hopes to sell close to 60,000 season tickets.

Michael Cuddyer of the Twins and his wife, Claudia, will play host to a benefit for Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities on Aug. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Capital Grille in Minneapolis. Many of the Twins players help serve food at the benefit event.

It was a nice gesture by Twins CEO Jim Pohlad to allow attorney Ron Zamansky and his group to have their annual Create a Memory Day at Target Field, which gave a chance for a lot of young kids to associate with top athletes from the area.

The Gophers athletic department spent just short of $500,000 to install new turf in the Gibson-Nagurski indoor football building, and the plans are to spend $1 million next year to cover the entire grass practice field at the U.

Former Gophers outfielder Michael Kvasnicka is 15-for-36 in his past eight games for the Tri-City Valley Cats of the New York Penn League to raise his batting average to .227.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com