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Presser Points: Zimmer on Mankato Relationship, Rookies & RBs

Posted Jul 23, 2017

MANKATO, Minn. — The Vikings final scheduled Verizon Vikings Training Camp officially opened in Mankato as coaches, rookies and select veterans reported to the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus on Sunday.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer spoke at the podium for the first time since wrapping up the spring offseason program.

“Its good to get back here to Mankato,” Zimmer said. “There’s been a long tradition here with this school and the Vikings and were going to make sure we do a good job here and get a lot of work done.

“It’s been a great relationship for the 52 years. I heard somebody say the other day that this was one of the longest continuous schools there was with training camp. We’ve been proud of the relationship we’ve had, and we’re here and ready to get back to work.”

Here are four other topics addressed by Zimmer on Sunday:

Rookies report Sunday

Zimmer is making a point this summer to give his rookies a chance to take extra reps before the majority of the veterans report to camp on Wednesday.

The Vikings drafted 11 players in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the head coach wants his younger players to be able to make contributions to the team this season.

“We did this in the spring where we had extra practices with the rookies,” Zimmer said. “I just felt like we want to try to get them up to speed as quick as we can. Last year a lot of the rookies didn’t play as much as they had in the past, so I just figured that, ‘Let’s give these guys every opportunity they can to get them up to speed a little bit quicker.”

Zimmer noted that the opportunity for rookies to have a few extra chances to continue to work with the techniques and terminology they learned in the spring would be key to their growth as players. The Vikings will have enough players to field a full practice with players on offense and defense for three practices until the rest of the team reports.

“I don’t know the exact number, but yes we will be full on both teams,” Zimmer said. “That was part of the deal that if we were going to do this I wanted to make sure we had enough offensive linemen, enough defensive linemen and enough corners.

Zimmer has high hopes for this year’s rookie class.

“I just felt like this year it was important that we brought these guys in early,” Zimmer said. “With the way the NFL is going now with younger and younger players, I just thought it was important. Hopefully a lot of these guys will be playing.”

Cook reports to camp

Zimmer has been impressed with the way Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook performed in the offseason practices but is excited to see the second round draft pick with the pads on.

“I thought he had a really good spring,” Zimmer said. “With running backs the vision and acceleration to the hole are always big. When he has a crease and to be able to accelerate to it, I thought he did a really good job with those things. For a shorter-stature guy, in college at least he was a physical back. He carried his pads out in front of him.

The head coach commended Cook’s versatility in different formations and commended his ability to take hits while holding onto the football.

“Dalvin did a lot of different things (at Florida State),” Zimmer said. “He ran from the (I formation). He ran from the (shotgun). He’s been very good at all of those. I think some of the offensive plays are similar but he’s done a good job when he’s been in there.”

Running back competition

The Vikings look to have a three-headed monster out of the backfield with free agent acquisition Latavius Murray, Cook and Jerick McKinnon.

Each of the players will be given the opportunity to find their role on offense with reps during camp.

Murray reported to camp on Sunday and has to meet with Vikings Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman before being cleared to practice.

“I think (Latavius) and (Jerick) McKinnon and all of those guys will add to the depth,” Zimmer said. “Part of it is us figuring out the roles for each of those guys. For the young running backs, pass protection is always the most important thing. They’ve got to be able to protect the quarterback on the pressures, so that will be a good test for Dalvin.

“I know that Latavius has done that a lot in the past, so I don’t anticipate that being an issue, and Jerick had a chance to do quite a bit of it last year.”

Injury updates

Zimmer had not met with any of the players before his interview but was asked about an update on the status of Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee).

“I don’t know. He’s improved. That’s the last I heard, but I don’t know where he’s at,” Zimmer said.

The Vikings head coach was also asked if he believed Teddy Bridgewater (knee) would start the season on the physically unable to perform list.

“I think so,” Zimmer said. “But again, I haven’t seen him.”