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MINNESOTA SPORTS BRIEFS: Gopher grids begin camp this week

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MINNEAPOLIS - Fall camp for the University of Minnesota football begins this week on campus.

The Golden Gophers will practice for the first time on Friday afternoon at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex. Friday's workout is free and open to the public and begins at 5:15 p.m. Minnesota defensive back Brock Vereen of Valencia, California says he knows the Gophers aren't picked to finish high in the Big Ten, but he says they don't worry about preseason predictions. He says the team has high expectations and that's what counts. The first Gophers' game is August 29th at home against UNLV at 6 p.m. 

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The Minnesota Vikings will for the first time this training camp hit the Mankato fields in pads this afternoon. Head coach Leslie Frazier put his team through a one-hour walk-through session this morning and will have them practice in football gear today. The team had four weekend sessions, but none included the team wearing pads. The Vikings will continue with the two-practices-per-day routine through Sunday, which will be a day off. The morning session each day is a walk-through, which is typically less intense. 

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Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson says he feels much better about where he is to begin this training camp than he did a year ago. Last year, he was the new receiver on the team, trying to learn the playbook, trying to get comfortable with quarterback Christian Ponder, and also trying to be productive knowing he had a four-game suspension hanging over his head to start the season. Then, as the season began, he suffered a leg injury, which never really fully healed. Simpson says he feels great this year, knowing there's no suspension, that he's fully healthy, and that he knows the playbook. He says he is in great physical condition. Simpson says his body is in "tip top shape."

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Quarterback Donovan McNabb is calling it a career. The 36-year-old has formally retired as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. McNabb spent his first 11 seasons in Philadelphia, leading the Eagles to 91 regular season wins, nine playoff victories and five NFC East Division titles. The six-time Pro Bowler holds nearly every passing record with the Eagles, including 32,873 yards and 216 touchdown passes. McNabb played with Washington in 2010 and in Minnesota in 2011 before sitting out last season. He finishes his career with 37,276 passing yards, 234 TDs and 117 interceptions. His 3,459 rushing yards rank sixth all-time among NFL quarterbacks.

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The Minnesota Twins are off today and return home and will open up a six-game homestand tomorrow night against the Kansas City Royals. The teams will play three games before Houston comes to town for three contests. Mike Pelfrey will take the mound for Minnesota in tomorrow's opener. He is 4-8 with a 5.15 ERA. KC will counter with Ervin Santana, who is 6-and-6 with a 3.06 ERA. First pitch tomorrow is set for 7:10 p.m. at Target Field in Minneapolis.

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The WNBA Minnesota Lynx are off for a few more days for the All-Star Break. Four Lynx players took part in Saturday's All-Star Game in Connecticut. Minnesota hosts San Antonio on Friday night at 7 p.m. in its next game. 

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Indiana's own Ryan Newman outdueled Jimmie Johnson late to win Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the 17th Cup win for Newman, but ended a 50-race winless streak. Johnson finished second, followed by Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth. With six races to go before the Chase, Johnson holds a 75-point lead on Clint Bowyer in the standings while Carl Edwards is 85 back. The Cup series heads to Pocono next week. 

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