Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Just finished up the third practice this week of the four, we have one more tomorrow. We had a lot of situation stuff today. We had short yardage and goal line, a couple of two minute drills and we are making progress. We got better today and I still like the way that the effort that these guys are giving, the way they are concentrating and the way they’re studying. We have the Vikings Golf Tournament tomorrow, I can’t wait to watch some of the media get out there in the morning and hit the ball around, so I might have to film you all, but we’re excited about doing stuff for the community like we were at the Playground Build. We feel like it is important for us as Vikings that we go out and not only be good citizens on the field, but do a great job off the field as well.
Q: Would you expand on the idea of the playmakers you have on offense and needing to find a way to get them the ball?
A: One of the great things about Norv (Turner) is he understands who’s the guy to get the ball to, number one. When I’ve played him in the past, he’s always figured out who they’re trying to take away and then counter that. We want to be explosive down the field, but in saying that it opens up a lot of spaces for other people, for the running backs, for the tight ends as you’ve seen in a lot of his offenses in the past. He has a lot of different things for the defense to practice against and offensively, we are putting a lot of stuff in, we’re giving them a lot of things to kind of figure out, alright what can these guys do good and give them a big, broad picture, then we will narrow it down to what we feel like we do best for our players and for the quarterbacks and for Adrian (Peterson) obviously.
Q: How does Jerick McKinnon look?
A: Jerick is doing a good job. We are using him in a lot of different situations, he catches the ball well, he has excellent acceleration coming out of the backfield, he’s learning the run reads better now. We’re glad we have him, he’s a good change of pace back, I mean not that Adrian is a slow guy, because he is obviously extremely fast, but just a different kind of back.
Q: What have you seen from Xavier Rhodes early on this year?
A: Xavier, I’ve been impressed with him, he’s working very, very hard. He’s a good kid. We have been working on his technique quite a bit, I’ve talked to him several times about things out here in the field, and he wants to be really good. Jerry Gray is doing a hell of a job coaching him, actually, he’s doing a great job coaching all of those DBs. It’s actually impressive to me, because us being from different places, he’s to the point now where he can correct them before I can get to them, so that’s a good thing. But going back to Xavier, he has got great acceleration, he’s learning the techniques much better, he’s staying on point much better. The thing I’m impressed with, the things that we talk about, he needs to improve the next day he’s working on it. We’ll go in the meeting room here in a minute and we’ll talk about the next process to where he is going, but I’m excited about him, he’s doing well.
Q: You seem to be a hands on guy, especially with the defense how have you seen players react to that do they think it’s intimidating?
A: You’d have to ask them that, I don’t think it’s intimidating, I’m coaching. I think they like to be coached. I probably answered the question wrong last time, about what they think. I hope they think that I’m an expert at what I do and what I’ve done and the techniques that I’m teaching, so I’m hoping and hopeful that they are paying attention to it and trying their very hardest to accomplish the things that we are trying to accomplish. I do think that we have improved quite a bit defensively in these eight practices, I think we have improved quite a bit. We’re not anywhere near where we need to be, but I feel like we are playing the coverage tighter, I feel like we have some guys up front that can do a nice job up front rushing the quarterback, we will have to be able to stop the run, which is hard to tell right now not in the pads. We seem to be fitting things pretty well and they’re giving great effort. Actually, both sides of the ball I feel like are giving great effort and are really busting their rear-ends.
Q: Do you see things slowing down for the players and gaining more of a comfort level with everything that’s been thrown at them the past couple weeks?
A: It’s a little bit, I was talking before, one of the things we’re doing offensively is giving them a big broad picture of a lot of different things and then what we’ll try to do is try to narrow it down to try to figure out what these guys can do best. Right now it’s put this in, put that in, see how much they can handle, see what things they’re good at kind of start scoping it back down just a little bit.
Q: What are your impressions of Sharrif Floyd?
A: Sharrif is doing a great job. He’s improved tremendously, he’s using his hands well. He’s a very dedicated kid. He’s done a great job in the weight room as far as changing his body and his strength levels and he shows great quickness. We’re very, very excited to have him and I look forward to having him have a good year.
Q: Do you think some of that is the natural progression of a guy in his second year?
A: It’s hard for me to comment about last year very much because I wasn’t here and I didn’t know what they were doing, but all I can comment about is what has happened this year and I’ve seen him progress. He’s another one of those guys like I was talking about with Xavier, you’re talking to him about something in a meeting, he’s got to do this better, he’s got to that better, and you see him working on it. Coach [Andre] Patterson and Coach [Robb] Akey are doing a good job with those guys. They’re staying on top of it. It’s a good group overall because I think they want to be really good. They’re working extremely hard, but I like Sharrif a lot. We as coaches don’t look at next year’s transition, we’re looking for how they improve from today to tomorrowto the next day and then go from there.
Q: How do you asses Jerome Simpson right now and how can he contribute?
A: Jerome (Simpson) has always been a great athlete. He can run like crazy, he’s catching the ball well. When he was in Cincinnati the first few years, he was basically in this same type of offense and so he has a little bit better of a grasp than some of the guys, just having a little background in it, but he’s a guy that can stretch the field, he’s doing a lot of good things.
Q: Are you expecting to have him all season?
A: I don’t know. It’s hard for me to comment on those things, to speculate on what’s going to happen. The guys that are here we coach.
Q: What were your impressions of David Yankey and are there any challenges he faces in the first few days of OTAs
A: There’s always going to be some challenges, because they’re going to be behind. Obviously, he’s a big guy that has played guard and tackle, he’s obviously a smart guy and he’s been a guy that in that Stanford offense there is a lot of pro-style stuff. The thing I was impressed with, he finished up, took the redeye and got out here and got to work today, we like those kind of guys.
Q: Was it your idea or the training staff’s to change some of the nutrition plan?
A: It’s always a collective decision, but before I forget to say this, in the offseason program this year our team gained 70 pounds of muscle and lost 170 pounds of fat, so part of it is nutrition, our strength coaches are doing a good job, our trainers are doing a good job, Geji (McKinney, team chef) upstairs, she got the award for the national award. It’s a collective effort, but it was the strength coaches and the trainers brought it to my attention, so we’ve changed. Heck, I think Rick (Spielman) even said he’s lost some weight. I actually have also lost some weight too, but I think that’s from stress. No, I’m eating fish every day for lunch so that’s a change for me too.
Q: When you see Matt Birk and other alumni players, how important is that for you as a first-year head coach to see those former guys come back and support the team?
A: One of the things about myself, I’ve always respected the players and coaches that have made this game so great and what it is and the popularity that it is. I love having those guys back. We’re having an alumni barbeque next week, we are inviting a lot of alumni that live in the area to come out here. We’ve got another guy coming next week, I got a note from Randall McDaniel last week. Those kind of things are important to me, so consequently I make it important to the players because if it wasn’t for these guys that we have had in the past that had played in the NFL and done the things that they have then these guys wouldn’t have all of the opportunities that they have, so it’s great having guys like Matt out there, Coach Burns was out here last week. All of those guys, I loved having them come out here, Benchwarmer Bob (Lurtsema), all of those guys, we love having them out here, (Scott) Studwell, it’s important to me.