Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS—Long before Johan Santana was a feared ace on the mound, a guy who defined the Twins' pitching staff in the mid-2000s, he was a wide-eyed 21-year-old patiently for his opportunity. He vividly remembers sitting in the Metrodome bullpen on April 3, 2000. It was Opening Day, and he had a front-row seat when Twins ace Brad Radke served up a home run to Tampa Bay Devil Rays center fielder Gerald Williams on the first pitch of the season.
EGAN — Like most NFL teams, the Vikings seek clarification about a new rule that will penalize tacklers for lowering their head and leading with their helmets. "There's going to be a lot of challenges with it," coach Mike Zimmer said last week. "It's going to take a little bit of preseason to clean up a little bit. It's going to be tough at first."
EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen might be the NFL's best bargain. After bursting on the scene two seasons ago, Thielen signed a three-year, $17 million contract last offseason that pays him an average of roughly $4.8 million a season, according to OverTheCap.com. He then caught a career-high 91 passes for career-high 1,276 yards while assuming the No. 1 role while partner Stefon Diggs battled a groin injury.
EAGAN, Minn. — Laquon Treadwell has spent the early portion of training camp turning heads, especially in the red zone, and doing so with a sense of joy rarely exhibited during his first two seasons. A first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the 23-year-old Treadwell hasn't lived up to his billing, barely playing as a rookie and catching 20 passes for 200 yards last season. That lack of production has weighed on Treadwell, entering the third year of a rookie contract paying a guaranteed $9.6 million.
EAGAN, Minn. — Nearly a decade into an unlikely NFL career, it seems like Marcus Sherels could be back on the chopping block. While he's developed into one of the league's most reliable punt returners since signing as an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota in 2010, Sherels enters training camp already ceding reps to rookie Mike Hughes. Over the weekend, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer went on record saying he expects Hughes to start as the Vikings' primary kick returner, with Sherels remaining as the primary punt returner.
EAGAN, Minn. — Less than a week after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said his players would be required to stand for the national anthem at games no matter what, Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf remains noncommittal about the issue. Wilf said Monday, July 30, he is "encouraged" by the fact that the NFL and the NFLPA are working out the jargon of ever-changing anthem protocol that has become a point of contention across the league since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee nearly two years ago.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.—Jack Morris cried on Sunday afternoon, July 29. Just like he thought he would. After belting out a rousing "Hello, Cooperstown!" to open his speech, his eyes started to well up with tears late in his speech, the dam bursting at about the 11:45 mark when he started talking about his family. While he quickly composed himself, it was a strange sight, especially considering the big, bad Morris made a career out of being the gruffest competitor on the field, the very definition of the idea that there's no crying in baseball.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting, St. Paul native Jack Morris finally will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. He was elected by the Modern Era Committee after failing to get enough votes from the writers during his 15 years on the ballot.
EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings first-round draft pick Mike Hughes definitely made the most of his time away from the Twin Cities. After participating in organized team activities in May and then mandatory mini-camp in June, the 21-year-old Hughes returned to the West Coast to continue training for his first NFL season. "That's pretty much what I've been doing," Hughes said. "Just training, chilling with family, and relaxing."
EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings running back Dalvin Cook took the NFL by storm for the first month of last season, rushing for 354 yards and a pair of touchdowns before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Week 4. That ended what had the makings of an all-pro rookie season, and made the 22-year-old Cook start to question the game he loves.