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Updated: December 14th, 2011 5:43pm
Notebook: Jim Kleinsasser not saying, but retirement seems likely

Notebook: Jim Kleinsasser not saying, but retirement seems likely

by Tom Pelissero and Judd Zulgad
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings' longest-tenured player isn't ready to talk about his 13-year NFL career in the past tense.

But veteran tight end Jim Kleinsasser made it clear on Wednesday he has no intention of testing the free-agent waters when his contract expires after the season.

"What's the cost of moving?" Kleinsasser said. "Uprooting your family for a year or two -- it doesn't make sense to me."

Two sources with knowledge of Kleinsasser's thinking told the 34-year-old has been telling friends and family members he's going to retire.

He has two young sons with his wife, Christa. He's active in charity work. He wants to go back to school. And he has made more money playing football than he could have imagined when he arrived as a second-round draft pick out of North Dakota in 1999.

"I'm proud of it," Kleinsasser said of playing his entire career for one team. "I've been lucky, been fortunate. I've had just such a great system throughout my career with my family, my friends. Good coaches, great teammates, everything has been kind of set up for me I guess you could say. I was just glad I was able to take advantage of it."

Kleinsasser has seriously considered retirement before. In 2009, the Vikings talked him into returning on a three-year, $9.5 million contract.

He turned down two more lucrative offers that year to stay with the Vikings, a source said. He also flirted -- "and that's about as far as it will ever go," Kleinsasser said -- with the idea of going to the Washington Redskins before re-signing with the Vikings in 2004.

"Yeah, it was one of those things that get just enough interest in the Vikings to make them nudge a little to get close to it," Kleinsasser said. "I was fortunate that the Vikings took care of me and definitely now looking back it's like, who knows if I would have gone somewhere else would I have played 13 years? You never know."

There's a chance Kleinsasser could change his mind if the Vikings beg him back, but that seems like a long shot as their rebuilding process continues. He has been battling an elbow problem since early this season and played only 10 snaps in Sunday's loss at Detroit, which dropped the Vikings to 2-11.

"You never want to go through something like this," Kleinsasser said. "It's definitely disappointing, but there a lot of other factors that go into your decision (about the future) than whether or not you had a better year or if you had a great year.

"There's a lot of other things, internally in this game and externally, family-wise and everything else that have got to be considered. I would say that whether this is a great year or a horrible year, that's not the main basis (for a decision)."

Set to return

There have been multiple reports in recent weeks that Leslie Frazier will return as the Vikings' coach next season despite this year's struggles.

Frazier said Wednesday that no one has been talking about his future.

"Really (we) haven't talked a whole lot about what has to happen with me," Frazier said. "Everything is really about getting ready for this New Orleans Saints game.

"But (I'm) very happy to be head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and that's where my focus is. But there is no indication from anyone in our organization that things are going to be any different from a leadership standpoint in 2012."

Ponder feeling better

Quarterback Christian Ponder remains on the injury report because of an issue with his hip but he did not miss any practice time Wednesday and the plan is for him to start Sunday against the Saints at the Metrodome.

Frazier attempted to explain Wednesday that when he sat Ponder in the third quarter of Sunday's loss in Detriot, he didn't really consider it a benching.

"It was just pulling him out as he was struggling with what I thought the injury was doing to his game," Frazier said. "That's all it was. If I thought he could do some of the things that he's capable of doing, he wouldn't have been out of the ballgame. But he's handled everything extremely well. It's hard.

"Nobody wants to turn the ball over or be in a situation where you don't lead a team to a win. But I think overall, he's managed the situation well, to the point where he didn't have any problems (Wednesday) in practice. He seems to really be in tune with this ballgame and moved on from the last game."

Ponder was lifted in favor of Joe Webb after throwing his third interception Sunday. He has thrown five picks in the past two games.

Frazier said Ponder was affected in part by the hip injury in the past two losses to Denver and the Lions. He was injured early in the game against the Broncos.

"Obviously, it slowed me down some," Ponder said. "I don't know how big an effect it was. I think also, subconsciously, that had an effect there."

Ponder said his hip has started to feel better.

"It's definitely a lot looser than it was last Wednesday and it's feeling pretty good," he said. "Continue to get treatment and everything but definitely getting better."

Ponder has thrown 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in going 1-6 in his first seven NFL starts.

"I need to show improvement -- not only for myself, but for my team," Ponder said when asked about the final three games. "I've got to do a better job of holding onto the ball. It's hard to win ballgames when you give the other team points, and so I've got to do a better job these last three weeks and hopefully, get three wins."

Not a city guy

Defensive end Jared Allen caused a stir last week when he made comments about his distaste for the cities of Detroit and New Orleans.

"I talked with Jared about his comments and hopefully, his comments will stay on what we need to get done and try to get a win against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday," Frazier said. "That's where it should remain."

In a conference call with reporters in New Orleans on Wednesday, Allen said he has no problems with the people of the city and offered an apology to anyone he might have offended.

Allen was booed throughout last Sunday's game in Detroit and made it clear while talking to reporters in the Vikings locker room on Wednesday that that didn't bother him one bit.

"The Lions fans had some funny things to say," Allen said. "I didn't insult any of the people. I'm not a city person, man. I grew up in the country. I just talked to the media from New Orleans. One guy was really upset about what I said. I was like, 'Well ...'

"I said it was more about the drive from the airport to the hotel. It was just a bunch of abandoned buildings. So take it for what it is. I thought it was great. I thought the Detroit fans responded well. It's supposed to be a rivalry. We're not supposed to like each other. I'm sorry I don't like your city. I guarantee there's people that hate where I'm from and it doesn't bother me."

Loeffler honored

Long snapper Cullen Loeffler, who is out for the season because of a broken bone in his back, has been named to the USA Football All-Fundamentals team.

USA Football picked 26 NFL players for the team whom felt they exhibited exemplary football techniques for youth players to emulate. Each player chosen will receive a $1,500 equipment grant to donate to the youth or high school football program of his choice.

Loeffler will donate the money to Tom Moore High School in Ingram, Texas.

As far as his recovery, Loeffler said, "I'm feeling a lot better. ... Things have been moving right along. I'm right on track."

A record to avoid

The Vikings have gone eight games without an interception and will set an NFL record for consecutive games without a pick unless they get one Sunday.

According to ESPN Stats & Information no team has gone more than eight consecutive games without an interception since the 1970 merger.

It isn't going to be easy for the Vikings to avoid the record considering they will be going against Saints Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees and a high-powered offense.

"We need to get some picks," Frazier said. "The quarterback we're playing, he doesn't throw a lot of them. But it'd be great to get one this week or get a few this week. We need some turnovers. We need some interceptions, fumbles, something against this offense."

Right cornerback Cedric Griffin was benched in the first quarter last Sunday, but Frazier said no decision has been made on if Griffin or Benny Sapp will start.

"We're going to let them practice the next couple days and then make a decision," Frazier said.

Rubbing it in

Nose tackle Remi Ayodele has been able to have some fun at the expense of teammates this week, pointing out that he was on the winning side when New Orleans beat the Vikings in overtime of the 2009 NFC title game. The Saints went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl.

Ayodele joined the Vikings shortly after the lockout, signing a three-year, $9 million deal.

"Remi sure rubs it in a lot," wide receiver Percy Harvin said. "We were just talking about it. ... He kind of jokes around about them beating us. He wants to show the ring and show the team that stopped us. We have fun with it, but I don't know if it's still true hatred between the two teams."

Roster moves

Two days after placing Stephen Burton on injured reserve and promoting Emmanuel Arceneaux to the active roster, the Vikings signed two rookie receivers to the practice squad.

Kris Adams, from Texas-El Paso, previously was in the St. Louis Rams' camp. Owen Spencer, from North Carolina State, was in the Detroit Lions' camp.

Offensive lineman Butch Lewis was released.

Arceneaux signed with the Vikings last January after playing for Vancouver of the CFL. He received a $75,000 signing bonus in part because he had worked out for eight teams over a two-week period.

So was he surprised not to be promoted from the practice squad sooner?

"Not really," he said. "I just come and work every day fired up. You never know what can happen. Any Sunday or any day anything could happen, so the thing is just trying to be ready so you don't have to get ready.

"It's just staying focused. While you're in those meetings and while you're out on the practice field never count yourself out because you're not sure what can happen to anybody."

Quick hits

• Running back Adrian Peterson (ankle) was limited in practice Wednesday, as was safety Jarrad Page (hip) and linebacker E.J. Henderson (shoulder). Only Greg Camarillo (concussion) sat out. Cornerback Asher Allen (shoulder) remained listed on the report but did not miss any practice time.

• Running back Mark Ingram (toe) and linebackers Jonathan Casillas (knee) and Jonathan Vilma (knee) did not practice for the Saints on Wednesday. Defensive end Turk McBride (ankle) was limited.

• Vikings players were granted their request to have their daily schedule altered so practice is held earlier in the morning and they are now done for the day around 2:30 p.m. Previously, players were not getting done with meetings until 4:30 or 5 p.m.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd