Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer talked to the press after a day of mandatory minicamp:
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Ordered a beautiful day for you today. We’re ready to get back to work. We’ve got this final week that we’ve got to get going and really what we’re trying to do is improve to the point where when we get ready to go to camp we don’t have to start over with everything again. Obviously we’ll start back with our install and start back with our techniques and all that but we don’t want to regress from last week to this week to when we get to training camp. Rick [Spielman] and I went down to Mankato last week. It’s a beautiful setup, the facilities are outstanding and we’re excited about getting down there.
Q: How do you avoid that with the month layoff?
A: Well we’re going to stay in touch with the players, just kind of remind them, sending little messages, just keep going where we’re at, make sure we’re working out. We’ll have a conditioning test when they come back to keep them motivated. A lot of it falls upon the player but it’s part of our job to remind them.
Q: Are you guys fairly healthy as you start minicamp?
A: Yeah, we’re pretty healthy. I think we got a couple of guys that won’t go this week but other than that we’re good to go.
Q: Is everybody here?
Q: Are both Matt Kalil and Linval Joseph planning on getting back?
A: They’re not totally cleared yet but we’re working them into things. They won’t be going as much in the team stuff but they’ll be going individually a little bit more.
Q: Is there any concern of them not being ready for training camp?
Q: Is Anthony Barr behind the curve a little bit because he hasn’t been here? How big are these next three days in getting those three rookies up to speed?
A: Well it’s hard for me to tell how far they’re behind because we’ve only had a walk through so far and they didn’t mess anything up in that. I’ll know more as we get going in practice and how far they’re behind. Today is a fairly easy install day for those guys. They’ve had everything we’ve done in the rookie minicamp so that shouldn’t be too difficult for them but we’ll have to find out where they’re at throughout the week.
Q: How beneficial was it for the position coaches to keep in contact with them and visit them during their time away?
A: You’ll probably have to ask them more so than me. We felt good about it as coaches being able to go down and spend some time with them. We were on the phone with them quite a bit, we went through a lot of tapes with them. There is no substitute for doing that out on the field. It’s a way to be within the rules and do the best job we can.
Q: How excited are you to see Scott Crichton and what you have with him?
A: Really all of the guys that weren’t here – [David] Yankey, Crichton, Barr – we drafted them because we think they’re good players and felt fortunate that they were there when we picked. The excitement level will raise or lower based on what they do on the field.
Q: What do you like from what you’ve seen out of Crichton?
A: Crichton is a tough guy, he’s a multi-position guy, he’s a great effort guy. He’s got good strength. We’re excited about what kind of potential he does have down the road.
Q: How do you look to divvy up the snaps at quarterback?
A: We are working with the three different guys. Obviously it’s hard to get three ready but Norv and I talked a little bit about it yesterday on some of the things we plan on doing as far as training camp. I want to give everybody an opportunity and make sure it’s a legitimate opportunity for all of them and start narrowing down the reps as we get going but it won’t be for a while. The thing I want to guard against most is rushing into a decision where we make a decision quickly as opposed to making the correct decision. Our main focus now is making the correct decision not so much for the fans or the media or anybody else on this football team and that’s really in regards to all of the positions, not just the quarterback position.
Q: Do you have to have a favorite that gets a little more reps than the rest just to make sure he’s ready for the season?
A: Eventually we will. There’s still a lot of time. We’ve got 20-some practices before the first game and 20 walk throughs or something. We’ve got time. Everybody wants to rush into things but it’s more important that we make the right decision and when we do then we’ll go with it and hope it’s the right call.
Q: So you don’t go in saying that Matt Cassel is the guy?
A: I’ve never said that. I know I’ve heard other people say it but I’ve never said it. From the day I walked in here, I said I want tough, passionate, smart football players and I want competition at every position. To me we are still competing, everybody is competing for jobs. I’m competinig to be a good head coach, the assistants are competing to be good assistant coaches. Again, I don’t want to rush into anything.
Q: What did you see from Jasper Brinkley on film that made you think he’d be a good fit for this defense?
A: Well he was a solid guy at Arizona that did a nice job in the running game. As you know watching on tape is a little different than when you actually have the opportunity to coach him but the thing I’ve been impressed with Jasper is he studies very, very hard, he doesn’t make very many mistakes and as I was saying a minute ago, the least mistakes, the smart football teams typically win and it’s hard to tell what kind of physicality he has now without the pads on but he hasn’t made a lot of mistakes. He seems to be getting the calls right. For the most part he knows where to get other people lined up and like all of them there is a few alignment errors instead of being here they’re over here half a yard or something. Those are all things we’re trying to clean up and this is why we are doing this stuff now.
Q: Is Jasper Brinkley the favorite with his experience for now anyway?
A: We have to line them up somewhere, but I don’t look at, this guy is the favorite or that guy is the starter. We line them up, he’s lined up with the first team right now, but I don’t know, once we get into practice and games and the things that prepare us for games and for the season, that will determine who lines up there on September 7.
Q: How do you feel about the Vikings being displaced two years, playing at the University of Minnesota and have you talked to people from Seattle or Chicago in preparation for that?
A: I have talked to people, I still have one more phone call to make, but I have talked to people about that situation. It’s kind of like that movie Hoosiers a little bit. The field is 100 yards long, I know it’s not the stadium that we have been playing in or the stadium that we will be playing in, but it’s 100 yards long and still at the end of the day the team that is prepared the best, the team that plays the best on that particular day will win football games. I look at it as an advantage for us, we’re not the only team that has to go into a different stadium and play, they have to come into a different stadium and play too. I don’t look at it as playing on the road, I look at that’s our home stadium for the next two years and if we prepare good, we play good, we block and tackle and all of the fundamentals, none of that stuff will matter.
Q: Who have you talked to?
A: Some head coaches. You’ve probably mentioned a few of them already.
Q: Did they help you?
A: Yeah, each situation is a little bit different, one team travels that weekend, one team had to play one year at one stadium, one year at another stadium, but it’s just good to get their input and kind of find out what their negative thoughts were and what the positive thoughts were and really what they tried to do to make it more as a home stadium, I guess would be the way to say it.
Q: Is the conditioning test something new, did you do that in Cincinnati?
A: I mean it’s similar to what we did in Cincinnati. I think it’s important that when players go off for five weeks that they understand that they can’t lay on the couch for those five weeks. They have got to be in shape, we have got 90 players counting on one another to be a good football team and we don’t want 85 of them sitting around doing nothing for five weeks. I’m trying to keep them motivated, not just for the conditioning test; I’m trying to keep them motivated for the other guys on this football team. We’re trying to take ownership in something bigger than ourselves. We’re trying to make this team a good football team, not 90 individuals or 11 individuals playing at one time. We all have to count on one another to do their respective jobs and come back and be ready to go. As you know the NFL season is a grind. It’s not unusual. A lot of teams do it, I don’t know if they did it here or not, it’s just what we do.
Q: Is this five weeks as big of time of dread for a head coach?
A: We’re trying to get away from everything and kind of relax, but I think the excitement as you start building, the first part is, and “Hey we don’t have to practice today, we don’t have to do this.” The players understand that they have got to work and they have got to lift. We will give them a lifting program and a lot of guys will be here, obviously. I think these players understand that to be a great professional, this isn’t a six month a year job, you have got to be prepared and that’s by making your body prepared for the physicality of the season, being prepared for the length of the season and all of the different scenarios. One of the things we want are guys with stamina, guys that can go 16 games and go 65 plays if they have to. They have to understand that this is part of that too.
Q: What have you impressions of Cordarrelle Patterson, are you impressed with how he carries himself off the field?
A: Yes, Cordarrelle, I happened to see him last night at dinner somewhere and I like his attitude. He’s a fun guy, but the thing that I’ve been impressed the most with is how he works out here. I mean he works. I don’t know, I was told that he didn’t work real hard on the practice field, but that’s not the case at all. He works hard, he wants to be good, he’s a very talented guy and so we’ll just keep getting him to work hard. He wants to be good, so guys that want to be good I love those guys.
Q: How does Michael Mauti look?
A: Michael’s doing a good job also. He’s again competing for a spot as a starter or on the team, both. He’s a smart guy, he’s got a tremendous family background with playing football and he’s an extremely hard worker, very, very focused on what he’s trying to get done and so I’m excited to see him when he gets in here in pads, see him when the bullets are flying a little bit more.
Q: Do you get the sense that all of his knee troubles are behind him?
A: He looks good running around. I don’t think there’s any, you’d have to ask him that. Watching him and obviously, I didn’t watch him before the knee, all I’ve see is now. But I don’t see a guy that’s limited athletically because of that.
Q: Are you a soccer fan at all?
A: I like the United States.
Q: Did you watch?
A: I did watch a little bit of it last night.