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Updated: January 15th, 2012 9:43pm
Zulgad's Roundup: Adrian Peterson's plans for where to rehab not clear

Zulgad's Roundup: Adrian Peterson's plans for where to rehab not clear

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

The Minnesota Vikings took the proactive approach of making Adrian Peterson and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman available to the media on Friday at Winter Park.

This served as the Vikings' latest attempt to provide transparency on how things were going for Peterson, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the Vikings' victory on Dec. 24 in Washington. He underwent surgery on Dec. 30.

Sugarman and Peterson discussed the surgery the running back had to reconstruct his ACL, what type of progress he had made and the rehabilitation he would be doing in the coming months.

However, there was one thing that remained unclear when Sugarman and Peterson were finished addressing reporters. How much time is Peterson going to spend at Winter Park doing his rehab and how much of it will occur near his home in a Houston suburb?

The Vikings have an enormous investment in Peterson - they signed him to a seven-year, $100 million contract that includes $36 million guaranteed just before last season began - and aren't about to lose track of the progress one of their star players is making in trying to return from injury.

There is little doubt the Vikings' first preference would be for Peterson to commit to spending nearly the entire offseason rehabbing at Vikings' headquarters. But it doesn't sound as if that is going to happen.

Sugarman acknowledged "it's important" to have Peterson do his rehab at Winter Park, but Peterson would only say he has a plan laid out.

"We have to discuss what that details," Peterson said. "I feel like it's going to be pretty good. It's going to work out. We're going to be able to do this together in the best way."

Asked if that meant much of his time would be spent at the team's facility, Peterson said: "I don't know. It's something we're going to discuss more in detail. I'm confident in the guys surrounding me now, (Sugarman) and his staff.

"The first two weeks, man, just having those guys around, (Sugarman) and those guys in there, some familiar faces, guys just encouraging me and pushing me, it's just really helped me a lot. So, I know those guys are going to continue to do a good job in this process for me."

That's one heck of a non-answer.

Peterson, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first four NFL seasons before running for 970 yards in 12 games this year, usually spends much of his offseason training in Texas.

After the Vikings lost to New Orleans in overtime of the 2009 NFC title game, Peterson basically disappeared from Winter Park and even missed the team's three-day mandatory minicamp because he was attending festivities surrounding a day held in his honor in his hometown of Palestine,Texas.

Peterson had rushed for 1,383 yards that season but also fumbled seven times and lost six of them. In the NFC title game, he had two more fumbles. While he did not lose either of them, Peterson also was involved in a botched handoff exchange with Brett Favre on what proved to be a costly turnover.

Peterson's issues with hanging onto the ball fueled concern that he wasn't addressing the problem by electing to remain in the Houston area. Those worries proved to be unfounded as Peterson had only one fumble in 2010.

Sugarman said he will be making trips to visit Peterson in Texas - Peterson has told Sugarman he can use the guest room -- and given Peterson's professional approach there shouldn't be great concern if he elects to do most of his rehab at home.

Nonetheless, you can be sure there are some at Winter Park who are hoping that isn't the case.

Singletary a possibility?

It appears the Vikings would like to have a new defensive coordinator in place by the time the coaching staff heads for Mobile, Ala., to lead the North team in the Jan. 28 Senior Bowl.

Fred Pagac, who held the job this season, was officially relieved of those duties on Friday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. That move had been expected for several weeks and Raheem Morris and Mel Tucker were brought in for interviews as Pagac was allowed to twist in the wind.

Morris, fired after the season as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, did not receive an offer from the Vikings and ended up becoming a defensive backs coach with the Washington Redskins.

Tucker, meanwhile, did get an offer from the Vikings but elected to remain defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars when he was offered his old job back by new coach Mike Mularkey.

While there are other names that have surfaced as outside candidates to become the Vikings' coordinator, including Steve Spagnuolo, Todd Bowles and Juan Castillo, it's impossible to eliminate Mike Singletary as an option.

Singletary got anything but positive reviews for his work in his first season as the Vikings' linebackers coach, but he is good friends with head coach Leslie Frazier and was on the list to interview for defensive coordinator's position.

Things get interesting here because Pagac reportedly has been offered the chance to return to his old job as the Vikings linebackers coach, a spot he held from 2006 to 2010.

So that means Singletary is either in line for a promotion, he's going to be fired or a new job is going to be created for him that will go along with the assistant head coach title he holds.

While Singletary might not be a good option, he could end up being one of the few the Vikings end up having.

That's because it's going to be difficult for Frazier to find a coordinator given his predicament.

The Vikings recently promoted Rick Spielman to general manager, making him the franchise's football boss. Frazier, meanwhile, has two years left on a three-year contract.

There has been little information made available about Frazier's contract, but there is a chance that final season is an option year and it could be a team option.

Spielman has said ownership will have final say on Frazier's future, but if Spielman tells owner Zygi Wilf after next season that he wants to make a coaching change odds are good it will happen.

That means there is almost no security for anyone who takes over for Pagac.

Want an example of what could happen to a coach who joins the Vikings staff?

Look at what transpired with St. Louis offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who decided to go to work for Spagnuolo last offseason.

McDaniels received a multiyear deal from the Rams, but all the team's other assistants had their contracts expire in February and were easily cleaned out when Spagnuolo was fired.

McDaniels wasn't a lame-duck coach, but buying him out wouldn't have been all that painful given he was the only one who had to be paid to go away. (McDaniels ended up quickly getting a job with the New England Patriots.)

How does this tie into what's going on with the Vikings?

A new defensive coordinator also likely would get a multi-year deal, but Frazier's coaching staff is believed to have some assistants who could end up working in the last year of their contracts in 2012. That would mean sweeping the entire staff out could be done rather easily, just as it was with the Rams.

All of this might add up to Singletary being given the job before the staff leaves for the Senior Bowl for a week of practices or an unknown ending up as the defensive coordinator.

Birk refutes report

Baltimore's Matt Birk disputed a report by Charley Casserly of CBS Sports on Sunday that said the former Vikings center plans to retire at the end of the season.

Birk signed a $12 million, three-year contract with the Ravens in 2009 and will be playing in next Sunday's NFC title game against New England.

"No, I haven't made a decision yet and I don't know Charley Casserly," Birk told reporters. "I don't even know who he is, I don't know him, he didn't talk to me."

Birk, who spent his first 11 seasons with the Vikings and is from St. Paul, will turn 36 in July and his contract does expire after this season.

One has to wonder if Birk's decision about continuing his career will be impacted in a big way by whether the Ravens are able to advance to the Super Bowl. As Vikings fans know all too well, Birk has never appeared in the big game.

Not so fast

There was a report last week that the Twins had landed the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field.

While the team has submitted a bid for that game, Twins president Dave St. Peter quickly posted on his Twitter account that nothing had been made official.

Rather, St. Peter said that the Twins "remain hopeful" that for the third time in club history an All-Star Game will come to Minnesota.

The Twins do have to be optimistic that they will find out in the coming months that the game will be awarded to Target Field. It's likely the New York Mets will play host to the 2013 game at Citi Field, although that also is not official.

A new stadium essentially assures a team of getting an All-Star Game, but clubs like to wait a few years before they play host to it.

The strategy makes sense because in the first few years season-ticket sales and interest should be strong based on the newness factor.

The All-Star Game can serve as a way to provide patrons with an incentive to continue buying season tickets and for companies to want to be involved with the product.

The All-Star Game this coming season is set for July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Heatley makes list

Winger Dany Heatley made it clear at his introductory press conference in Minnesota last summer that he was not happy with his 26-goal performance in 2010-11 with San Jose.

Heatley expected much more of himself.

Unfortunately for the Wild, it appears the production Heatley provided last season might be a reflection of where he's at as a goal scorer.

Heatley, who put up back-to-back 50 goal seasons with Ottawa in 2005-06 and 2006-07, has only four goals in his past 15 games dating to Dec. 13. He has 49 shots in that time.

Heatley, who will turn 31 on Saturday, has 13 goals in 45 games this season to lead the team. However, the Wild was third from last in the NHL in scoring entering Sunday's game with 105 goals. That was three more than the New York Islanders and four more than the Los Angeles Kings.

A recent poll of 161 NHL players by Sports Illustrated had Heatley rated as the fifth-most overrated player in the league. Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf was atop the list, followed by Washington's Alex Ovechkin, Montreal's Scott Gomez, Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and Heatley.

Winger Martvin Havlat, whom the Wild traded to San Jose for Heatley, has only two goals and 13 assists in 26 games.

Havlat suffered a partial tear in a tendon in his left hamstring in late December while jumping over the Sharks' bench in a game against Edmonton and is expected to miss up to eight weeks.

Gophers to play outdoors?

There was hope at one point the Gophers men's hockey game against Notre Dame on Jan. 7 could be played in TCF Bank Stadium. That didn't happen.

But there is a chance the Gophers will have an outdoor game next season -- in Chicago.

Wisconsin Badgers coach Mike Eaves confirmed to the Wisconsin State Journal that the Badgers have been approached about playing the Gophers at Soldier Field next season.

Next season will be the last for the Gophers and Badgers in the WCHA. The schools will join the new Big Ten hockey conference in 2013-14.

The State Journal reports that Miami of Ohio and Notre Dame also have been contacted and could meet in the other half of the regional doubleheader.

Talks remain in the early stages but Eaves told the paper he was "absolutely" intrigued by the idea. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. 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.
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