Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter takes part in drills at the NFL football team’s practice facility in Eagan, Minn., Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Mike Smith, who joined the Vikings’ coaching staff as outside linebackers/pass rush specialist after three seasons with the Packers, said Minnesota’s new 3-4 base scheme will take advantage of Danielle Hunter’s flexibility and line him up over guards at times to create favorable matchups. Hunter has the ability to cause nightmares for interior offensive linemen, as evidenced when former coach Mike Zimmer shifted him inside at times against the Saints in the Vikings’ playoff upset in 2019 at New Orleans. Hunter has spent the majority of his career with his hand on the ground at left end and was a Pro Bowl player before missing much of the past two seasons because of injuries. He had 14.5 sacks in both 2018 and ’19.
Defensive end Patrick Jones II, taken in the third round by the Vikings last season out of Pittsburgh, has impressed the new coaching staff. Jones also got positive reviews during the Vikings’ offseason camps last year but only played in nine games.
Hunter and Jones are both now listed as outside linebackers on the Vikings’ roster.
Wide receivers Ihmir Smith-Marsette (lower leg) and K.J. Osborn (undisclosed) both did not take part in the opening day of the Vikings’ mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Bisi Johnson, who suffered a torn ACL in training camp last year, got work with the first team with Osborn out. Osborn also did not participate in practices the past two weeks of Organized Team Activities on the days media were allowed to observe.
In addition to competing with Jesse Davis for the starting job at right guard, veteran Chris Reed is getting snaps as the second-team center. That could open the door for a competition between Garrett Bradbury, whose fifth-year option was not exercised, and Reed for the starting job in training camp.
The Yankees’ dominance of the Twins extends beyond the postseason. The Twins entered Tuesday’s 10-4 loss to New York with a 10-29 regular-season record against the Yankees since 2015 and a 7-19 regular-season mark since 2017. The Yankees also have won 13 consecutive playoff games against the Twins, the longest win streak by any team against a single opponent in postseason history.
Catcher Gary Sanchez, who was acquired along with Gio Urshela from the Yankees in the Josh Donaldson trade during spring training, entered Tuesday first in the American League among primary catchers with 27 RBI, second in slugging percentage (.446) to Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk (.465) and second in OPS (.735) to Kirk (.854). Sanchez clearly has benefitted by getting away from the scrutiny that goes with playing for the Yankees.
Former Twins on the Yankees’ roster include Aaron Hicks, Marwin Gonzalez, Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was acquired by the Twins in spring training from Texas before being shipped to the Yankees along with Donaldson. Three of the four were in the Yankees’ lineup on Tuesday. Only Gonzalez did not start.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said he expects shortstop Carlos Correa to return from his COVID-19 absence on Wednesday and be in the lineup against the Yankees. Starter Joe Ryan, who also was on the COVID list, is expected to make a rehab start in the minors before returning to the Twins.
Twins reliever Tyler Duffey, who gave up a three-run homer to New York’s Anthony Rizzo on Tuesday, when asked about his struggles: “It’s (bleeping) frustrating.” Duffey’s latest poor outing caused his ERA to climb to 6.55. Baldelli continues to support the veteran reliever, but you have to wonder how much longer a first-place club can allow Duffey to struggle in the big leagues?
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer has the Timberwolves taking Notre Dame wing Blake Wesley (6-3, 187 pounds) with the 19th pick in the first round of the June 23 NBA draft. O’Connor has Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren going first to Orlando. Holmgren and current Magic guard Jalen Suggs were teammates at Minnehaha Academy. Suggs, who also spent a season at Gonzaga, was the fifth-overall pick in the 2021 draft.