Monday, July 6, 2015

minnesota

On Aug. 31, the Vikings claimed former Minnesota Gopher MarQueis Gray off waivers when he was released by Cleveland. Gray immediately took to social media, announcing the news to his Twitter followers:

Despite growing up in Indianapolis, the Twin Cities have become home for Gray.  His wife, stepdaughter and twin sons live in Minnesota, so returning to play for the Vikings is a dream come true for the 24-year-old.

At 6’4″, 240 lbs, Gray proves an extremely versatile player. He played both quarterback and wide receiver while at the U of M, and he was listed as a tight end upon his transition to the NFL.

Gray stepped into a full-time QB role as a junior in Minnesota. In 2010, while still splitting time between positions, Gray started seven games at WR, grabbing 42 catches for 587 yards and five touchdowns. In addition, he tallied 119 rushing yards on 23 carries. Gray demonstrates strong athletic ability for his size. At the 2013 NFL Combine, Gray logged a 4.73-second 40-yard dash, coming in as the fourth fastest QB.

Gray signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent, working out as a half back before moving to tight end. He played preseason with San Fran before being cut and then picked up by the Browns. Gray spent the 2013-14 season in Cleveland, in which he got six carries and two catches in 12 games.

If the Gophers alum sticks to the TE position, he will fall into third string behind Kyle Rudolph and Rhett Ellison.

Minnesota released linebacker Larry Dean and offensive tackle Austin Wentworth to clear roster room for Gray and tackle Mike Harris, waived by the Chargers.

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(photo by Chris Price)
(photo by Chris Price)

Last season, Gerald Hodges met criticism for a lack of focus. This season is a whole new story.

There has never been any doubt as to Hodges’ athletic ability. When Minnesota drafted him in the fourth round in 2013, Hodges was coming off his junior season at Penn State. That year he started all 11 games, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and ESPN.com and second-team accolades by the media. He also was named a Pro Football Weekly honorable-mention. Hodges led the team with 106 tackles (60 solo) and ranked in the top 15 in the Big Ten in hits (eighth) and sacks (14th tie with 4.5).

At 6’2”, 243 lbs, Hodges is a machine of a linebacker. He is a safety convert, which brings its own set of advantages. However, Hodges didn’t stand out as fans hoped he would as a rookie. In an Aug. 3 interview, he explained to ESPN’s Ben Goessling part of the problem:

“Last year, I don’t think I came in as focused [as I should have been],” Hodges said. “I was coming from the combine. I wasn’t studying my plays in as much detail as I’m doing this year. I think last year I was focusing on too much instead of focusing on my job.”

Coming into the 2014 season, Hodges has made some adjustments—including working to be in better physical shape this offseason. “I just [want] to be as healthy and in shape as I can be,” Hodges said. “I feel as if I’m ready to run around on the field more effectively, able to get to the ball.”

Hodges expressed a confidence in playing the nickel defense, and says his team mentality has improved. “Each day I come in and work hard […] work on improving the team and improving myself as well.”

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I haven’t paid taxes in Minnesota for nearly a decade now (wow, time flies) so I try to avoid sticking my nose into the State’s affairs, especially when it involves the money of Minnesota taxpayers.  In fact, on this blog, I try to avoid political topics all together.

With this post I break both of those pseudo-rules, but I will try to do it tactfully.

As fans log onto their work computers Thursday they will likely be bombarded with news about a bill being introduced to the State Legislature that could/would/should get a new stadium built within their borders to ensure the Vikings don’t abandon the nest for at least another 30 years.

At the time I am writing this, no details have emerged detailing how the State would finance the public portion of this stadium, but all indications are that this Republican Legislature understandably has no interest in raising taxes.  Thus, it appears likely that some sort of gambling deal will be the answer.

Now, I am a huge supporter of keeping the Vikings in Minnesota, but I just cannot reconcile in my mind why Minnesota voters would want to increase the gambling platform to pay for this thing.

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