Dalton: AP Still Special Player
Adrian Peterson ran for 102 yards yesterday in the Vikings’ 20-13 win over the Lions, his best total in four games during his comeback ACL surgery. His longest run from scrimmage this season is only 20 yards but former Vikings running back coach Dean Dalton told Sports Headliners that Peterson “can be as good as ever, maybe even better.”
Peterson, 27, has rushed for over 1,200 yards in four different seasons. His reputation as one of the NFL’s elite runners is part of the reason why Dalton said last week Peterson’s numbers are mediocre so far in 2012. “Everybody (opposing defenses) is keying to stop him,” said Dalton who has an NFL show on Sirius Satellite Radio.
The other problem, at least before yesterday, is what Dalton terms “rust.” During his recovery program from the ACL surgery Peterson didn’t play in preseason games. His first football contact came in week one this season. As Dalton described it, many months had passed since Peterson “had to run over a guy.” Running through drills isn’t the same as a collision.
During the comeback Peterson has shown the ability to power into tacklers and cut by them. Does Peterson think the “rust” is gone and does he have the feel for playing the game the way he once did? “…I felt like (after game three) the rust is knocked off now and that’s what I needed, and I’ll be ready to roll even better,” Peterson said last week.
Peterson was pressed for confirmation on whether he feels like his old self. “Pretty much,” he said. “Pretty much.”
Dalton doesn’t see any physical limitations in Peterson after his long rehab. “I think he’s fine. He will keep getting better.”
Peterson reportedly earns a base salary of $8 million this season and is among the better paid players in the NFL. Dalton said Peterson is worth the money, describing the All-Pro running back as a threat defensive coordinators have to scheme against, and that attention should help make for a more productive Vikings’ passing game.
“Very, very valuable,”Dalton said. “He remains the face of the franchise. He puts fear in opponents. He’s nearly impossible to stop in the red zone. I see him getting back to form sooner rather than later.”
The Vikings’ Marcus Sherels gave himself a 25th birthday present yesterday, returning a 77-yard punt for a touchdown against the Lions.
Vikings’ tight end Kyle Rudolph has caught three of quarterback Christian Ponder’s four touchdown passes this season. Both are second-year NFL players who have bonded. The two spent a month in Florida this year working out together and socializing. “I think that really helped us,” Rudolph said.
Don Becker, who works for the Wilf family on real estate projects out east, will have major responsibilities for the Vikings’ stadium project.
The Gophers (4-1) struggled on Saturday to stop Iowa running back Mark Weisman in the first half when the Hawkeyes built a 24-0 lead before winning 31-13. Minnesota didn’t face a power running team in its first four games of the season, playing schools that emphasized throwing the ball.
Coach Jerry Kill said on WCCO Radio’s “Sports Huddle” yesterday that he wouldn’t predict whether quarterback MarQueis Gray’s high ankle sprain will allow him to play on October 13 against Northwestern. The Gophers have a bye on their schedule this Saturday.
Terry Ryan, the Twins’ general manager, also was on the “Sports Huddle” and indicated there could be a change(s) coming soon with manager Ron Gardenhire’s coaching staff.
Miguel Sano, 19, led the Midwest League in home runs with 28 and RBI, 100. He’s probably the most anticipated hitting prospect in the Twins’ organization. Twins’ minor league executive Jim Rantz told Sports Headliners that Sano could be in spring training with the Twins next February. Will Sano make the final roster and start the season in the major leagues?
“I think that would be a little too much at this time for him,” Rantz said. “I don’t see that happening, but never say never.”
Sano, a third baseman, hit about .300 early in the season at Beloit but finished with a .258 average. Rantz said pitchers threw Sano a lot of breaking balls and “off-speed stuff.” But Rantz believes Sano can become a .270 or better hitter in the majors. “I think that’s a possibility. Sure do.”
Gophers’ baseball coach John Anderson is an advocate for northern schools—like those in the Big Ten—switching to a summer schedule that would start in June and close with playoffs in August. Moving away from the unpredictable northern weather in the spring and playing in the summer would turn Gophers baseball into a revenue producing sport, Anderson said. A larger budget would even allow teams like the Gophers to use wooden bats.
Prep basketball authority Ken Lien, who chairs the Mr. Basketball program, told Sports Headliners that Apple Valley is his preseason choice for No. 1 team in the state.
Lien said Apple Valley, led by point guard Tyus Jones, will play Robbinsdale Cooper, led by shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, in the Timberwolves Shootout in January at Target Center. Jones, Vaughn and DeLaSalle’s Reid Travis are part of a nationally recruited threesome that could be the best in Minnesota prep history. “Vaughn might be the only one who ends up with the Gophers,” Lien said.
Lien also said that Edina senior point guard Graham Woodward was scheduled to visit Penn State last weekend. Senior forward Kyle Washington, who played for Benilde-St. Margaret’s in 2010-11 but now goes to school in New Hampshire, has verbally committed to North Carolina State after Wisconsin showed a lot of interest. Grand Rapids sophomore center Alex Illikainen is being recruited by Kansas, according to Lien.
The Gophers’ first two games in the late November Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament will be intriguing. Minnesota plays Duke and legendary coach Mike Krzyzeski in the opening game. Then the Gophers will either play Virginia Commonwealth or Memphis. New Gophers’ athletic director Norwood Teague is from VCU and Shaka Smart, who Teague hired as coach at VCU, might one day be a candidate for the Minnesota job. Jimmy Williams, who has been involved for years in a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota, is an assistant coach at Memphis.
Don’t be surprised if the Gophers upset favored Duke in Minnesota’s opening game.
Former Gophers’ coach Jim Dutcher said Ray Williams, who played for him at Minnesota and had an NBA career, has recovered from colon cancer and is living in Florida.
The Wild’s Dany Heatley is profiled as part of the “Becoming Wild: Chapter Two” series starting at 7 p.m. Thursday on FOX Sports North. A similar feature on Mikko Koivu airs starting at 6:30 p.m. on October 11. The series began with other Wild players last month and features details of their daily lives. Episodes can be viewed at www.wild.com.