Our pro sportswriters opened their Twitter feeds and e-mail boxes to your questions for the latest editions of Sports Mailbags. Here's a selection of the most interested questions that were submitted. You can see the full versions at startribune.com/sports.
Our next batch of mailbags will focus on the Gophers and high school and other amateur sports.
VIKINGS writer BEN GOESSLING
Q How do they play without spreading the virus? — @PJ_Vikes
A The answer to this question might ultimately determine what the 2020 NFL season looks like, and I'd be lying if I knew the answer to it right now. Instead, I think it'd be worthwhile to look at a few of the questions the league will have to answer to make the 2020 season happen safely. In terms of putting fans in the stands, the NFL will have the advantage of watching how the NHL, NBA and MLB make decisions about resuming their seasons, in all likelihood, before football comes back. But even if games happen without fans, the number of people on an NFL sideline and the amount of contact on the field would seemingly create fertile conditions for the virus to spread. Does the league quarantine players between games? Would the NFL Players Association give its blessing to such an arrangement? How reliably can players be tested, and how will the league manage things if a star player like the Broncos' Von Miller tests positive for coronavirus during the season?
The NFL has undoubtedly been thinking through these issues and will have to continue to do so before players reconvene in person. But the question you raise is a tricky one, and based on the conversations I've had with people in the league, it will have to be managed carefully for a 2020 season to happen with any sense of normalcy.
Q Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were renowned for their otherworldly work ethic and practice habits. Who on the current squad is the guy who "outworks" everybody? — @escribianodavid2
A This was a really interesting question — my mind went initially to Adam Thielen and Danielle Hunter, for obvious reasons: Thielen's is as much of a self-made man as you'll find in the NFL, and Hunter — in addition to looking like an Avengers character — absorbed a wealth of knowledge from defensive line coach Andre Patterson, on his way from 1 ½ sacks in his final year at LSU to his status as the youngest player to reach 50 career sacks in the NFL. Thielen has opened his own gym in the Twin Cities, and Hunter trains in Houston as part of Adrian Peterson's famously grueling sessions with his longtime trainer, James Cooper. Four other names came up in conversations with a couple people in the know: Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook on offense, and Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris on defense.
TIMBERWOLVES writer CHRIS HINE
Q Where do you see Naz Reid fitting in the Timberwolves timeline? — @dylan_hedeen
A It's clear the Wolves are investing long term with Reid. Everything they've done as an organization from the beginning has hinted at that. When the Wolves signed Reid and introduced him after summer league, he was at the press conference with their two draft picks from last year, Jarrett Culver and Jaylen Nowell.
And they didn't hesitate to give Reid starting minutes when Karl-Anthony Towns went out with a wrist fracture before the season was postponed. The Wolves like Reid's athleticism and his shooting ability, and he has committed himself to getting in better shape. He has the tools they think can thrive in their system.
TWINS writer PHIL MILLER
Q Instead of starting the season in quarantine in Arizona, why not end the season in Arizona? They could keep playing there through the end of December. How about July, August and September in the teams' own stadiums, and then October, November and December in Arizona? — Roger Zahn, Minnetonka
A This is an interesting idea, since it could conceivably allow Opening Day to be pushed back to August or September if necessary. But there is one big hangup preventing baseball being played into the winter: Pitching. The value of good pitching has skyrocketed. Of the 20 MLB contracts worth more than $200 million, six belong to pitchers. And because pitching is so expensive, teams are unwilling to risk those arms. Remember, Stephen Strasburg was held out of the playoffs (the PLAYOFFS!) in 2012. MLB will want more than anything to have a normal 2021.
LYNX writer KENT YOUNGBLOOD
Q Are reports about backup center Temi Fagbenle not playing this year true, and how will the Lynx respond to this decision?
A Fagbenle, a former third-round draft pick who had become Sylvia Fowles' backup the last three seasons, will not play in the WNBA in 2020. It appears the Lynx were anticipating such a decision. "She's not signed," Lynx GM and coach Cheryl Reeve said. "So she will remain a reserve player. She received a qualifying offer and didn't sign. She'll sit out 2020. We hold her rights. When January comes, we'll send a qualifying offer again."
The Lynx knew Fagbenle would likely sit out the season if the British team had made the Olympics — and the Olympics hadn't been canceled. But, even with no Olympics, Fagbenle decided to sit out the season, something the Lynx learned a while back.
MINNESOTA UNITED writer JERRY ZGODA
Q How incredibly jumbled will the world of international soccer be because of the pandemic? Will some MLS players prefer to stay in their home countries, or would they maybe become full-time players in the United States? — Brook from Burnsville
A There is no way to predict just what will happen, in Europe or South America, just as there's no way to predict what the virus will do from here. I'm sure there will be a few players who will re-evaluate the world and their lives from a new perspective as this continues and question what they're doing so far away from family, friends and home.
But here's one thing to remember: Compared to many leagues worldwide, MLS is as solid as you get as far as ownership and financially. Unlike a lot of teams and leagues in South America and in lower divisions across Europe, players know that the league will move forward once we're through most of this pandemic.
WILD writer SARAH McLELLAN
Q What are the Wild's biggest offseason needs? Seems like we still need goal scorers, which is a constant in Wild land. — Dan Chang
A The Wild's offseason priorities could evolve depending on how the season evolves, but figuring out its depth chart up the middle already looks like an area that will need to be addressed. Eric Staal is under contract for 2020-21; so are Joel Eriksson Ek and Victor Rask. But after that, the Wild has a few question marks. Captain Mikko Koivu's contract is up after this season, and his future — like the current state of the NHL — is up in the air.
Alex Galchenyuk, an unrestricted free agent after this season, looked like he could be a short-term solution for the Wild when he was acquired in the Jason Zucker trade with the Penguins in February, but perhaps he has worked himself into a full-time role. Galchenyuk plays wing, but he also was lining up at center before play stopped. Rask also had a strong showing in his final game before the league stopped, but before that, he was a frequent healthy scratch. Clearly, the Wild has some decisions to make. And if its top-six incudes Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov, the push to find complementary centers could be pressing.