Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and Running Back Adrian Peterson both talked recently after an OTA workout.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
We have had a couple of good days of work so far, guys are still learning a lot of the system and really what we are trying to get accomplished with everything that we are doing. I’ve been pleased with their effort and the way the study and the way they try to take to the coaching, so we’re good.
Q: Do you feel like the defense is taking it personally how they played last year?
A: I don’t know. I don’t worry about last year much. I just worry about trying to get them better now.
Q: What have your initial impression of Chad Greenway and what he brings to the table and what he can do in your system?
A: He can fit in fine, he’s a good guy, he’s smart, he’s very conscientious, he’s a pro’s pro. He should fit in very well.
Q: You talked about him learning a few different spots, is that something you look for in him?
A: When you go to the game with six linebackers, you know, something happens they have to be ready to go. Part of the deal with all of our guys is we are trying to give them a lot of different things to do. I’ve always felt like the more things that you can do the more valuable you are, especially on game day.
Q: How receptive has the secondary been to your coaching?
A: I think they are receptive, I don’t know; I don’t worry too much if they are receptive or not, we just try to coach them up. I mean they want to be coached, so I’ve spent a lot of time back there in the past so that is really nothing new.
Q: Is this an open competition, do you find yourself trying different things?
A: Sure, our coaching staff doesn’t know these guys for the most part so we are just trying to figure out what guys do what best and how we can use them and then who’s the best guys. I think competition makes us all better.
Q: With a guy with an education from Illinois State and a name like Mike Zimmer, is the sky the limit for a linebacker like that?
A: I don’t know. Illinois State is a good school so I don’t want to be negative on that, so we will see.
Q: What did you like about the player Mike Zimmer during his tryout?
A: He was a good player in college and then he went to Jacksonville a year ago. He’s a good smart instinctive player. He needs an opportunity like everybody else that is here.
Q: Kyle Rudolph said that they looked around in the offensive meeting room and realized that they have everything they need to be a strong unit. Do you feel there is strong forward momentum?
A: I think we have got a long way to go, but I do feel like there is some ability here. It’s part of us to get him back into playing together as a team, playing smart, doing things to win football games, but we have some ability. Norv (Turner) talked to the offense yesterday about some of the pieces that they have, and why can’t they be good? People forget that we have two quarterbacks that have taken teams to the playoffs by themselves. We have some ability, I know that people are saying, “We don’t have this or we don’t have that”, but what I can tell that we do have is we do have some heart and we do have some competitors and we have some guys that want to be good.
Q: How can you tell for sure that players are buying into a new system and a new coach?
A: I don’t worry about that. I don’t worry about if they are buying in. My job is to coach them hard and try to get them to be the best players they can be. You’d have to ask them if they are buying in, really. My job is to coach them.
Q: Is the team taking your competitive edge to OTAs and do you like to see that early?
A: It’s not so much that, it’s we have to be smart. We are a team; we have to play together as a team. We have to do things together both on offense and defense. We have got to help each other out. I love competitors, but I also love smart guys so the more we can continue to learn how to practice and practice good and play the right technique. This time of the year is about technique and fundamentals and understanding the scheme and understanding where everybody else is in the offense and the defense and the special teams, the more that we can understand that, the better football team we will be.
Q: What have you seen from Adrian Peterson? He said he was excited to work with Norv Turner.
A: Yeah, he looks great. He’s made some tremendous cuts, you’d have to ask him, but he seems excited to be here, about some of the things that we are trying to do with him and I think it’s only going to continue to get better. It’s good for him to be here and I know other places there is other things going on, but I told him I appreciate him being here.
Q: Is it tough to not have Teddy Bridgewater here for the first OTAs?
A: Well he was here for the first day, he just wasn’t here for today. For Teddy especially, he’s learning, he has a lot of catching up to do, but he is doing a good job.
Q: What is the value of the OTAs with all of the limits that are places on them?
A: It’s a tremendous, tremendous value. The things that we get a chance to work on and accomplish, being able to understand where we are supposed to be in zone coverage, how the receivers are supposed to run the routes, the timing of everything, understanding how to play blocks, how to combination blocks on offense, the calls that we make, I mean there are so many things that are so valuable. We’re still in the early stages of what we are learning but I do feel like as a team, we’re starting to work together a little bit better.
Q: What is preventing Matt Kalil from participating at this point?
A: He had a little procedure done I guess it was about 4 or 5 weeks ago. He’s going through individual and stuff like that, so we are just being real careful with him right now.
Q: Was it his shoulder?
A: No, it wasn’t his shoulder.
Q: Chad Greenway said he has been carrying his iPad around with him and this was the most he has ever studied football in his life. Do you like to see that in a player that has already established himself?
A: That’s good, I like that, I do. It’s important to him. That’s why he has been a good player for a long, long time, because it’s important to him. If we had 90 of those kind of guys we would really be good. I do think our guys are studying a lot and hopefully we are keeping them accountable about knowing what they’re supposed to do all of the time. Yeah, it makes me feel good.
Q: As a coaching staff are you looking to see confused looks turn to confidence?
A: I did tell them yesterday everything is happening pretty fast right now, the offense is shifting and doing a lot of different things and so it complicates other things, but it will slow down once everybody starts getting a little bit more comfortable with the terminology and the calls, the movements on offense and the motion, formations and play calls. Once that happens it will slow down a little bit and everything. But it’s good that everything is going fast right now because they feel like, “Woah, I got a lot of work to do.”
Q: Is that a productive of three day OTAs
A: No, the product of this part is teaching them. We will go back in training camp, we’ll reteach things, but so that they feel more comfortable when we get to training camp and we start going playing games and everything, hopefully things will slow down.
Q: Can you talk about what’s holding your three defensive backs out (Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Sandejo and Josh Robinson)?
A: Sandejo had a procedure on his back not too long ago and the other two guys got a little nicked up yesterday, day-to-day, little muscle pull, nothing major.
Q: Have you talked about Mike Zimmer the linebacker?
A: We did a little bit. We didn’t have a lot to talk about.
Q: It would be kind of hard to cut Mike Zimmer, wouldn’t it?
A: No, it won’t be hard. Hey, they will cut me, I’m not worried about cutting him.
Q: What are your expectations for Tom Johnson and why you went after him in free agency?
A: Tom is a good kid. He’s got great quickness, he has got good acceleration. He’s smart, he uses his hands well. We feel very fortunate that we were able to get him.
Q: Is he a guy that can compete for a starting job?
A: I don’t know about that. We have got to wait until we get in pads and training camp. We are just rolling guys in right now. We’re not worried about the depth chart, we are worrying about trying to get each player better, trying to get better as a team, trying to make sure everybody understands what the other person is doing the guy next to him, the guy behind him, the guy on the other side of the ball and in the same thing. I think that is all about teaching us how to be a team and play together as a team and play together as one.
Q: Is Linval Joseph nursing an injury too?
A: Yeah, he had something in the offseason. Actually, before we signed him we knew it. He will be fine, he actually is getting real close now.
Q: How much of a difference maker can Linval Joseph be?
A: We like a lot of things that he does. Obviously, we have to get him out here on the field and get him going a little bit more, but we felt really good about him when we signed him, so we are anticipating, I hate to comment on guys until we really get them out here and get them going.
Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson
Q: Are you excited to be in this offense?
A: I am excited to be in this offense. As a whole, what Coach Turner brings is pretty amazing. If we are able to digest everything as a group, I think we’ll be fine.
Q: Kyle was talking about playing now and not thinking about his foot, are you at the point at practice where there’s nothing in the back of your mind?
A: That’s what I think, I’m well enough to go out and perform and don’t feel like I’m going to injure myself or hurt myself. I still have some work to do to get my strength back. I’m comfortable when I’m out there practicing.
Q: How do you feel about catching the ball more out in space?
A: I’m pretty excited about that, as a running back I’m looking to be more diverse in the offense and being more involved in the passing game is something I look forward to.
Q: What’s it like to have the quarterback situation be a story as usual?
A: It is what it is. I’m seeing guys are out here looking good and looking sharp. Bridgewater is looking good too. I was able to watch him. Our system is going to take a load off those guys.
Q: What are your first impressions of Teddy Bridgewater?
A: I’ve had a chance to sit down and talk to him, talked to him briefly. He’s a smart kid and looking into his eyes he’s hungry. He’s going to compete for a starting job. He’s going to really have to work hard; Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are out there working and working hard to get that starting position.
Q: What about Jerick McKinnon?
A: I like the kid, I do. He’s quiet but he’s a hard worker. He’s a smart kid and a good learner which you can see during our meeting. He’s definitely picking up the offense well. I think he can really do some good things.
Q: Last time we talked at minicamp you said that the offense was like performing heart surgery without a license. How do you feel now? Do you feel like your closer to getting a license to operate?
A: Yeah, I’m definitely closer; I still want to practice on the side. I’m picking up the terminology more and more, it’s all about staying in that play book and understanding the terminology and breaking the play down, but it’s going well.