Vikings General Manger Rick Spielman
I would like to welcome everybody down here to Mankato. I think the first thing that I need to address is the Mike Priefer situation. Just so everybody is clear, Mike Priefer will be suspended for the first three games of the season. That suspension will start Monday before the St. Louis game and end on Monday after the New Orleans game. He will be asked to take sensitivity training classes. We will set up an outside firm for that sensitivity training, and the firm does nothing but sensitivity training. Once that is complete, our ownership will review everything and determine whether that three-game suspension will come down to a two-game suspension. Coach Zimmer and myself are working on our contingency plans for when Coach Priefer is not with us. We will decide what is best for this organization going forward during this short time frame, and once we determine which direction we are going to go and how we are going to approach it, I will have Coach Zimmer address that with you guys. Our organization has always promoted diversity, respect, tolerance in our workplace, and we always strive to make it the most conductive environment as possible. We also continue to educate ourselves – not only our players and our coaches, but also our front office and everyone else in the building. This is going to be our 49th year down here in Mankato. I cannot tell you what an outstanding job this University does and what an outstanding job this city does as far as welcoming us down here. It makes us feel like it is home away from home. That is probably why we have been coming down here for 49 years. I am very excited to be down here and get started on a football aspect. There is a lot of new going on – we have a lot of new players and made a lot of moves this season. I cannot tell you how impressed we have been with Coach Zimmer and his staff from the minute they walked on that field, to the first volunteer mini-camp, and to the end of our last mandatory mini-camp. You see tremendous strides with all of our guys. I cannot tell you how hard our players have been working to get better as well. But, I can tell you that starting here in Mankato, we have a long way to go. Our coaches realize that and I know that our players realize that, and they are working extremely hard to look forward to hopefully a successful season coming up.
Q: Did you choose to suspend Coach Priefer for the first three games for a reason, or is the league involved in that?
A: This decision comes directly from our ownership after they have reviewed everything. This is what they felt was the best after reviewing the whole situation, and we will go on and move forward from here.
Q: Is any action taken for Les Pico?
A: I am not going to comment on Les Pico. You guys all read the Littler Mendelson report. I think everybody knows Les and what he does, but due to pending litigation, I cannot go down that road.
Q: Does Mike Priefer have some credibility to build with the organization?
A: I cannot tell you enough how much I respect him, not only as a family man and as a person, but also as a football coach. You know, he made a mistake, and he owned up to that mistake. He is going to serve his suspension, and then we are going to move on. As far as everything else goes, we are looking forward to getting down to work here, and that is the most important thing.
Q: Did the organization seriously consider firing Priefer at all, or was there only talk about a suspension the whole time?
A: When the report came out last Friday, I know that we reviewed everything, and this is what ownership thought was the best course of action.
Q: Did you know the before the report came out and after the second interview that after denying it twice, Priefer finally admitted to saying that?
A: I am not going to get into anything. I just know where we were at on Friday and where we are going from here.
Q: What did you say to Mike about the fact that he was not initially honest?
A: I think Mike is very remorseful. I know that he just wants to put this past him. Everyone makes mistakes. This does not define that Mike Priefer is as a person or a football coach. He has admitted and apologized for his mistake, will serve his suspension, and we will move forward as a football team.
Q: Will you address the team on the Mike Priefer situation?
A: I know that we will have our team meeting and Coach Zimmer will probably address that.
Q: Is Priefer allowed to make any contact with the organization during his suspension?
A: No, he will be completely removed from the building, just like if a player is suspended. When that Monday comes, he will be out out of the building and no contact within the building whatsoever. After ownership reviews everything, they will determine when he comes back.
Q: Will that be with or without pay?
A: That will be without pay.
Q: Was there a reason why you went with a summary versus releasing a news release?
A: I am not going to get into any of that area today.
Q: Whose decision was that?
A: I am not going to get into that area today.
Q: Does the NFL need to change some of its views in the way that the locker room weighs into everything?
A: I think that every year, you are trying to educate yourself. As the environment changes, you have to be able to change as well, so we are continuing, and our owners are very proactive in continuing to make the best working environment as possible. That is our job to adjust and it is the right thing to do.
Q: What can the organization learn from what has happened these last six months?
A: You just learn from what happened, how you improve, and how you move on.
Q: What do you expect from Coach Zimmer and his training camp?
A: I can’t wait. I am very excited to watch him get on the field. You get excited about watching your players, seeing the new players, the undrafted Free Agents, the draft picks, but you see them out there in shorts. Now we get into the football side of it. A lot of the guys that have worked extremely hard, not only what did they did during the Organized Team Activities and Mini Camp phase, but what they also did this offseason with a new strength and conditioning program and how hard they attacked that. This is where you start to build that chemistry as well, and start to grow as a football team because you get a chance to start hitting people.
Q: Now that you have
A: We did a pretty extensive research on him, but I can tell you that he has been very impressive. He is still a young quarterback, he is going to have some growing pains as we go through this, but he has been extremely impressive on his approach with not only what he does on the field but what he also does off it with how hard he is working and studying to understand Norv Turner’s system.
Q: What factors will included in the quarterback competition?
A: I think Coach Zimmer has referred it to be an open competition. The coaches have a plan in place on how they are going to evaluate this, and the number of reps. I will say that all of our quarterbacks have improved, you see tremendous improvement in
Q: In a perfect world, would your rookie quarterback sit this year and learn by observation?
A: In a perfect world, we want the best quarterback that is going to help us win ball games.
Q: Is there another position battle that you are looking forward to?
A: Across the board we have a lot of young rookies, we had another ten picks come in. For those guys to come in and compete, whether it is a potential position to start, or whether it is a backup role that is going to compete on special teams. Our fans better bring their programs because we had some turnover. We are very excited about the ninety man roster and we think it is a very competitive roster. We are going to have some very tough decisions to make once we get down to the fifty three man roster, and realizing that some of the guys that we could potentially cut, will have opportunities to play elsewhere.
Q: How do you feel about the roster from the year turn around?
A: There is a lot of new schemes and philosophies on the part of the coaches and that is our job on the personnel side to make those type of adjustments. Understand what they are looking for, and what the requirements are at each position, and go out and do the best job that we can to find those types of players that will fit well within their scheme.
A: I will just tell you this, that I am not going to make any comments on contract negotiations, but Kyle Rudolph is a very good football player for us. We drafted him, and hopefully will be able to look at something in the future.
Q: What is the number one thing you saw in Organized Team Activities and Mini Camp that you are looking forward to this new regime in their first Training Camp?
A: I think the biggest thing is that this coaching staff are tremendous teachers, just from the detail that they put in to the technical side of the game, and how our players progressed from where we started to where we finished, but now they have been off for three or four weeks. Now they have to get back out there and see how much they can recall. I do not have any question that this coaching staff, if they aren’t able to, they definitely will be.
Q: How much do you expect from
A: Cordarrelle has made tremendous strides this offseason, and I can’t commend enough the work ethic that he has, and the approach he has taken. To see how Coach Stewart and Coach Turner have worked with him, and refining his routes, we are expecting big things from him, and not just in the return game.
Q: Rick how do you fill the void with Mike Priefer, and what impact will that have on the team?
A: That is what we are going through right now. We are going through all of our options out there on how we will approach this, and Coach Zimmer and I feel very confident that we will have a strong plan in place, and we will move on from there.
Q: Will bringing in an interim special teams coach be a possibility?
A: We are looking at all options
Q: What did the organization send
A: I just saw today in the paper that he got married. I didn’t even know that he got married. I think we will give him some free dinner over here at the chow hall.
Q: From training camp atmosphere standpoint, what will Coach Zimmer create?
A: I think it is the intensity, he has already created that along with accountability that the players know they will be held accountable on and off the field. That is why I am so anxious to see, the preview that we saw in this offseason is going to continue down here.
Q: Do you expect everyone to practice or is there anyone that will be unable to?
A: What I will do is once everyone is done reporting and gone through their physicals, cause some of these guys we haven’t seen since they left, so once we find out where they are at we will release potential guys that are Physically Unable to Perform or roster moves.
Q: All the medical examination and conditioning is done today?
A: Yes, as we are speaking.
Q: Is there any difference between the conditioning test last year and this year?
A: We didn’t do any conditioning test last year. This conditioning test I think Coach Zimmer wanted to send a message to the players that you don’t go home and spend four weeks on the couch. I did, but the conditioning test was well thought out so the players don’t have dead legs, but also you had to do stuff in your training to pass the test.
Q: How much did Spencer Nealy’s suspension influence his release?
A: Not at all.
Howdy! I’m sure glad to see all of you again. I missed you for these five weeks but we’re glad to be here in Mankato. We’re excited about the way this football team is shaped up. The work they’ve done in the offseason, we want to continue where we left off in the OTAs and continue to build a big, tough, smart, disciplined football team that our fans are going to be proud of each and every Sunday.
Q: What’s the single message you want to convey in your first meeting?
A: Well, I’ve got a few things but it will be a take off of basically on what my first meeting with the team was when I first got here. Talking about what kind of players I want, what kind of team I expect us to be, what I think we have to do to continue to improve to be a good football team.
Q: What is Mike Zimmer training camp going to look like?
A: It’s going to look a lot like OTAs but a little bit more physical. We’re trying to make sure that we’re precise in everything we do. We want to be disciplined. We want to be tough. We want to play fast. We want to play physical. We want to continually improve each and every day and then we want to try and find the players and fit them into the right places so we can take advantage of their abilities.
Q: What is your thinking about what you’re going to do with Coach Priefer being suspended for the first two or three games?
A: Well, Rick Spielman and I have talked about it. We’ve got a few options that we’re going through and we’ll work through it. I think we’re pretty close to having an idea of what we’re going to do but we’ll announce it when everything is final.
Q: Do you intend to address the team with a message about that change?
A: Yea, I’m a pretty straight up guy. I address them with everything. If a player comes late to a meeting, I address it with them in front of the team. I’ll address all situations.
Q: Will you share that message publicly?
A: No, my players get a little bit more information than you do.
Q: Are you concerned at all that this will be a distraction or do you think it’s something that you can move from?
A: Well, it is a distraction today but tomorrow I’ll be focused on football. We’ll be out there in the conditioning run at 3 o’clock and going about our business. I’ve been with the Dallas Cowboys and the Bengals and Atlanta and there have been distractions on every single team, so-called distractions, but the media and the fans and people make it out to be a little bit bigger distraction than it is for a football team. We try to go out and focus on our business and go about it. And really the distraction is the questions that you get and having to figure out what to say. It is what it is and we’re just going to move forward and go on.
Q: What was your take on Priefer not being honest and denying things and then finally admitting it the third time?
A: I don’t know all those things that went on there. Coach Parcells texted me the other day and he gave me some things about my first training camp. He said, “Mike, believe your eyes. Don’t believe what other people tell you. Believe your eyes.” I’ve been here for seven months. I’ve had a chance to see this organization and the people in this organization. The way they work, the way they conduct themselves every single day in a professional manner. I’ve had a chance to visit with Mike Priefer on numerous occasions, almost every single day and find out what kind of person he is. I knew his father. I know what kind of family guy he is and he made a mistake. I just go by what I see. I don’t go by what I hear.
Q: Mike can you explain the thought process in deciding to keep him on the staff back when you were assembling the staff?
A: Well, kind of like what I’ve said before, I knew about him as a person and I knew about his father. His father was a good coach in this league. We all make mistakes. We all try to learn from our mistakes and I think this guy is a high character, quality person that I want to stand behind. Honestly, I want to stand behind him because I know what’s inside of him. I know what’s in his heart. He made a mistake and if anybody here hasn’t made a mistake I want you to raise your hand. Because I know I have made plenty.
Q: When you were deciding whether to keep him on staff, did you discuss the situation with him as you were going through that process?
A: Yes, I discussed the situation with him and Rick when I first got here. We talked about everything and went on. At the time, and I still do, I feel like it was the best thing for me to do with this football team, with this organization and for myself, for my future.
Q: At what point did he tell you what he said and when did he level with you all?
A: I don’t know. We’ve had so many conversations that I don’t know exactly when it was. So I can’t really tell you any data on that.
Q: When you laid out this training camp, did you lay it out after a Bill Parcells camp or after ones that you did in Cincinnati?
A: There’s a little bit of all of it. I went back and took a lot of the things we did in Dallas with Parcells. I went back and looked at a lot of the things we’re doing with Marvin Lewis. I talked to Norv Turner about it a lot. I guess when you’re an old coach, you get more experience that way. It’s just a combination of a lot of things I think. I think over time you get a chance to say well I’d do this a little bit different or I’d do that. We may change things as I continue to look at the football team and see where we’re at in different areas, where we might need to adjust the camp. I think that’s part of coaching and teaching is being able to adjust to the players that you have and how you have to adapt to alright well, we’re short on corners today so we need to do it this way or we need to do it that way. It’s just part of the business.
Q: What kinds of structural changes are you looking forward to making that you couldn’t do as a defensive coordinator?
A: As far as structural changes?
Q: In general, how things are run?
A: Maybe the number of plays, the different situations. We are going to be a lot on situations. That’s one of the things that Coach Parcells talked to me a lot about is situational football. Making sure that we’re smart in those areas. Making sure that we’re disciplined. I think the situation part of the game, as you’ll probably see tomorrow, we’ll have a situation right away.
Q: You’re pretty adamant to have your identity on this team and your blueprints on both side of the football. Is there anything else like you still have to do to feel like your identity is apart of every position and every side of the ball?
A: Quite honestly, I just try to be me. I don’t try to pound this point in or pound that point in. I just try to do what I think is the best thing to do along with our coaches. I think we’ve kind of shown them how we want to be and how we want to act and how we want to practice. How we want to lift weights. How we want to eat. All those things during OTAs. For me, really the only thing different now is we have pads on and we’re getting ready to play games for real.
Q: Will Lindval Joseph and
A: Yes, as far as I know unless something happens with the conditioning test today.
Q: Do you envision anybody starting on the pup list?
A: There may be somebody but we’ll announce that tomorrow.
Q: How do you balance that pup atmosphere with not beating these guys up too much?
A: It’s a fine line. It really is a fine line. I was talking to one of our coaches the other day. We were talking about scrimmaging and tackling and those different things. He said, “ Well you know if you’re scrimmaging against the Pittsburgh Steelers, you have eleven players on the field but if you’re scrimmaging against yourself, you have twenty-two players on the field at the same time.” We’re going to try and be smart about it. We’re going to have contact because that’s football. As far as live contact, we’ll have some early in camp and then kind of see where we are at. I believe that to be a good defensive team you have to be a good tackling team. So we’re going to have to work on that but that’s also why you have four pre-season games too. There’s a lot of different ways to do it and we’re just going to figure out what’s best for us and for this football team at this particular time.
Q: How do you handle the quarterback’s snaps throughout camp?
A: It’s not exactly even. You know it’s not one third, one third, one third. It’s a little bit more and then some drills we are going to have a little bit less. You’ll figure it out by watching practice. You know we will get some guys in there that like I said from day one I want to have everybody compete for positions. I think the more you compete the better you get. People don’t get complacent, they continually get better, they study harder, they work harder on the practice field, and so I want to make sure that everyone feels like they have the opportunity to play and obviously all the reps cannot be exactly the same but they will be similar at the beginning and then we will start backing them down some.
Q: Do you kind of enter though with Cassel apparent in your mind as the starter because he is the veteran?
A: In my mind I have Cassel as the number one quarterback going into camp. I don’t have a starter in mind yet. They’re going to determine who the starter is on the practice field by how they go about their business out there, by how they preform in the preseason games, and I understand the quarterback is a big situation. Part of the question about answering who the quarterback is going to be is okay what kind of defense do we have? What are we going to ask the quarterback to do? How can we use the quarterback in different ways? I think a lot of that has a factor in who the quarterback will end up being, not just who the quarterback is.
Q: It seems like you have a lot on your plate, for the first time but its been a long journey are you going to allow yourself the time to appreciate having this opportunity?
A: You know I appreciate this opportunity every single day. There’s times in this time off that I’ve had that I’ve said to myself, “you know you have to be the head coach now”. That’s one of the things that Parcells texted me the other day too, “Make sure everyone knows you’re the head coach, not just the defensive coordinator or a figure head or anything like that.” Honestly, when I get out on the practice field that is when I feel most comfortable. It’s what I love to do, I love to teach, I love to coach, and once I get out there I wont have any time to think about anything else. I’ll be going full speed. I told somebody, I think it was Matt, that for the last three weeks every night I was having a dream about football and the last couple nights I haven’t been able to sleep much. I get up in the middle of the night, “Well this day we need to make sure we are doing a little more tackling or we do a little bit of this”. I’m into it pretty good right now. I promised the Wilfs last night, both Mark and Zygi called me last night, and wanted to wish me good luck on my first training camp and all that. Then I promised them that I will do my very best job that I possibly can do to bring what they want to bring to this organization and to this football team. That’s my mission.
Q: Is there one thing that you’re most excited about or nervous about heading into camp?
A: Well there is a lot of each. I think I’m most excited about watching how this group of players comes together and how they go out on the field. I’m excited to watch them play smart, play disciplined, play fast, play physical. I’m nervous about possibly getting too many people injured or we don’t have this or that, but you know its just part of football we go on about our business and we try to overcome any shortcomings that we get.
Q: All things equal in the quarterback competition would anything prohibit you from starting a rookie?
A: No as I said before, The Minnesota Vikings, Rick and myself, we really aren’t afraid to do anything. It’s about doing what we feel is the best and if we do make a mistake, we pick the wrong guy, the left corner is the wrong guy, then we will try to fix it at that time. It’s part of adjusting. I have no problem playing a rookie quarterback, a 9th year veteran, or a 4th year veteran. We are going to do what we think is best collectively as a group. I’m lucky as heck to have Norv Turner here to help with this decision. I was lucky to have him in the draft process to help there. Honestly our scouts, I know I keep saying these kinds of things and people probably think I’m just saying it but it is true I’ve been in a lot of organizations and these guys are first class people that know their jobs very, very well.
Q: Mike you mentioned exchanging texts with Bill Parcells did you talk or text any of your other mentors heading into training camp?
A: I talked to Marvin Lewis, I texted him and I guess that’s about it.
Q: What did Marvin tell you?
A: Well we talked a lot about the number of reps at practice. He sent me some things that we used in the past and he said he loves me and good luck.
Q: Did you check out any boats or cabins this summer to disengage?
A: No, actually I was on the world tour. My family and I went to Mexico, I was at my ranch for a little bit, and I went and saw my dad down in Naples. My daughter got an internship with NFL Films so I went there one day. I’ll tell you it was really cool to go in there and see all the old pictures and the way they put together these videos. I actually wanted to do it more than she did but it was a really neat thing. Where else did I go? I went somewhere else.
Q: A lot of fishing?
A: I did a lot of fishing yeah.
Q: Which daughter got the internship?
Q: You talked about you wanted to see the players stay in condition through this time from OTA’s to now, how will you measure that? How will you know? What will the steps be to make sure that the guys are ready to roll?
A: Well we have the conditioning test coming up at three o’clock and that will give me a decent indication. You know if guys aren’t in shape then they will have to do more work and I’m going to let them know that I’m not happy with what they have done in these five weeks that we have been off. I don’t anticipate that, I anticipate that our guys understand what is at stake for each and every one of them and they understand what is at stake for us as a football team. The biggest thing to me is that we play as a team. I am convinced that if you play with 22 guys the team that makes least mistakes and plays together as a football team can beat anybody. I think that showed when the “Dream Team” came a couple of years ago. We are going to work on being a heck of a football team, that’s what we want to be.
Q: What is all involved in your conditioning test?
A: It’s a standard condition test. There are all different kinds and this is a timed, not a sprint, but a timed run. It’s not really sprints but pretty good runs.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
I’d like to start off by saying that I like to set myself, or set a higher standard for myself – a higher standard of conduct, a higher standard of work ethic, a higher standard of being a father and a husband – and I expect a lot from my players as well. I say the same things to them when I coach them. We talk a lot about setting higher standards for yourself, whether in preparation or in performance. My wife and I raised our children in this way, representing our name, our last name and what that means and remember who you are. In this regard and this situation with my comment, I’ve failed. I didn’t just go below the bar, I went way below the bar. I made a mistake. I was wrong. I brought a lot of undue attention to the Minnesota Vikings organization and brought an unwanted distraction and I apologize. The apology that I had spoken about that I put out on Friday, I wanted to reiterate that in a very humble and sincere manner. I still stand by that and now I’d like to move on. I’d like to move onto the 2014 Minnesota Vikings and what this season has to offer for us.
Q: What has been your biggest regret in this entire situation?
A: The biggest thing I regret is I’ve brought a lot of bad publicity to the Minnesota Vikings and I feel like I let my family down.
Q: Do you wish you had said what you said in the second interview right away during the first one?
A: I spoke to the appropriate individuals and I cooperated throughout this entire process and the results are in that investigation and now I think it’s time to move on.
Q: Just to clarify you don’t make decisions in roster moves and personnel decisions, correct?
A: That’s correct. I don’t make final decisions. That’s up to our General Manager and our Head Coach and all I do is make recommendations.
Q: Kluwe said you made more than one homophobic remark. Did you make more than one?
A: At the end of the day, and I appreciate that question and I understand where you are coming from, but I did speak to the appropriate individuals, I’ve cooperated fully from the very beginning of this investigation and I’ve told them everything I’ve needed to tell them.
Q: Do you think the three-game suspension is fair?
A: It’s something that I respect, it’s a decision that I respect. It’s one that I obviously have to accept and it’s one I will fulfill.
Q: Do you think that it’ll be easy to move on with the players because they are familiar with you?
A: You’ll have to ask the players but I’m not brand new. The good thing is I’ve been here for three years. There’s a great three-year foundation of our special teams and I believe that our players really believe in what we are doing. I feel bad for them that I won’t be here for two weeks, three weeks, probably three weeks and that is what hurts that I won’t be with them. At the end of the day that’s the hard part for me with suspension.
Q: Is the full report something you’d like the public to see?
A: I haven’t seen the full report, I wouldn’t know.
Q: Do you feel like you need to do anything to rebuild the credibility with the players or the organization?
A: I hope to be doing that right now. I’m doing that now because I came out with that apology on Friday and I sincerely mean it. I know I’ve let some people down, I’ve embarrassed the organization a little bit and that’s obviously the worst thing for me. I believe throughout the entire spring and offseason, I thought we had a great offseason. The guys worked hard, they believe in what we’re doing, working with a bunch of new players and they are buying into what we are doing. It’s an exciting time for Minnesota Viking football and that’s why I want this distraction hopefully behind us in that we can move forward and onto a great season this year.
Q: What kind of relationship do you have with your players because your comment comes off as something that’s not what a coach would say to a player?
A: Well I’m not going to change the way I coach and I’m not going to change the way I teach, but I’ve learned a lesson. I have learned a lesson here. That’s the great thing about this situation. I’m going to look back and say you know what something good has to come of this and that’s going to be it, that I learned a hard lesson that I’ve got to be sensitive to other people in what I say and that’s not going to happen again.
Q: Why did you say that it’ll probably be three weeks that you’ll be suspended versus two?
A: It’s at three weeks right now. I made a mistake. It’s at three weeks right now.
Q: Is there a chance that it could go to two weeks?
Q: What does the sensitivity training entail?
A: I have not been told that but I’m going to take that sensitivity training I believe the first week of the season. I obviously can’t go to the office for three weeks and can’t be around my guys for three weeks, so I will take the training and we’ll go from there.
Q: Does it last one week? Do you know where it’ll be?
A: No sir. I don’t know all of the detail right now.
Q: How is the team set up to go on without you for three weeks?
A: That’s something that I know Coach Zimmer and Rick [Spielman] are working on right now and I don’t know the details.
Q: When you’re coaching on the field is there an assistant you have?
A: My assistant Ryan Ficken does a great job for me. He’s an outstanding young coach and he’d be fully prepared to do it if need be. If they feel like they need to bring in someone with more experience then so be it, but I know our foundation will be set up and whoever comes into help bridge that gap for three weeks, they’re not going to change what we’re doing. We’re going to keep going with what I’ve taught and what I’ve done here for the past three and a half years.
Q: What will you do during those three weeks?
A: At least one of those weeks is going to be the sensitivity training and from there I don’t know, drive myself crazy.
Q: When did you address this situation with Mike Zimmer and what kind of conversations did you have?
A: You know the conversations between the head coach and I, I would like to keep them private, but we’ve been talking about this situation since I was interviewed to be essentially re-hired here.
Q: Were you concerned about losing your job?
A: That’s a great question. I figured out a long time ago that I can only control what I can control and the rest of it, I’ll go batty if I think about it all the time. I try not to think about it and just came out every day and did my job.
Q: How did you sell yourself to Mike Zimmer to stay when he was putting his staff together?
A: I went in there and talked about the success we’ve had, some of the failures that we’ve had on the field, some of the things we needed to improve upon, talked to him a lot about personnel, talked to him about my philosophy on special teams and a lot of it matches Coach Zimmer’s and I hope that’s one of the reasons why he hired me.
Q: Do you think you owe Chris Kluwe a personal apology? Is there any plan to reach out to him?
A: My focus has totally been on getting ready for the season and the 90 guys we’ve got coming to camp and I’m really excited about this new season.
Q: What’s the support been like from players?
A: They’ve been great. From the Wilf family to Rick Spielman to Coach Zimmer and our coaching staff, all 90 players. The new young guys don’t really know a whole lot about the situation but the veterans that are here I know they have my back, they’ve been giving me great support. They realized I’ve made a mistake, they know this does not define who Mike Priefer is as a man or a football coach and I think they are ready to move on.
Vikings Wide Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson
Q: There are a lot of big expectations of you this year. Does it make you nervous or does that inspire you?
A: It does not make me nervous at all. It kind of inspires me, but you have to go in expecting big things out of yourself. Do not let other people do it for you.
Q: Do you have some numbers in mind of how good you can be?
A: I really do not have any numbers in my mind. I just want to be out there and play every game that I can play, stay injury-free, go out there and give it my best.
Q: What can you do differently this year from the second half of last season?
A: I just want to continue how I played last year. I want to continue to build off of that and I hope my game gets better and better each week.
Q: Are you excited about Coach Zimmer?
A: I am excited, and I know that everybody is excited about what he has brought to our team. He has an offensive mindset so we feel like he is going to do a lot of great things this year. We expect a lot, and we start tomorrow so we are expecting big things.
Q: What is your impression of Teddy Bridgewater so far?
A: Teddy has been good. I have had the opportunity to go in with him a few times. He is looking good. He is a young guy and I feel like he is going to be the star of this team one of these years.
Q: What do you think people are going to notice about this offense?
A: We want everybody to have a good year. We do not want people to just talk about 28 [Adrian Peterson]. Everybody wants to be talked about: Greg Jennings, Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder, me – we all want to be good. We all want to be heard of. We feel that every player is going to have the opportunity to be in the spotlight this year – not just me, Greg, Adrian, Matt. We have to step up this year.
Q: Is there something you learned at camp last year that you now know going in this year?
A: It is not so much learning something, but it is more of what to expect and what not to expect. Last year was my first year, so I did not know what to bring as far as clothes and food, so this year, I have a whole new mindset. My work ethic is better and I can learn from these guys. This is my second year and it is a blessing.
Q: Does this camp feel different to you?
A: It does not feel different at all. It is just year two of camp. Zimmer is a different coach than the last coach, but I try not to play differently. I want everything to stay the same. I will just get out there and do what I do best.
Q: Obviously you are in tremendous shape coming from this off-season. Was that something you believed you needed to work on coming into this season? What did you take from last year that you worked on this summer to get the numbers you want?
A: I noticed that I needed to work on my routes. My routes were not that good, and this year, I have just been staying in shape. I have been working hard and working with Matt, and he has been working me, which I appreciate.
Q: How are you feeling?
A: Physically, I am feeling great. I feel like I am in top-notch shape, but we will find out today. I will run my sprints and if I do not pass, then that means that I was not working hard. I feel like I am in great shape, and better shape than last year.
Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson
Q: Do you have any big bowl predictions?
A: I do not want to make any predictions, but obviously the goal is to win a championship. That road continues here. Driving here, I wasn’t excited, not going to lie. But once I made it to Mankato, like the previous seven years, I started feeling the butterflies and getting more excited about the upcoming season.
Q: How do you feel about the team’s chances this year compared to the past years?
A: I feel pretty good about our chances. I feel like we have a great coaching staff and a good group of guys. We have some young guys like the rookies from last year, and they have another year under their belt. We brought in some good talent in this year’s draft, so I feel like we have all of the pieces. It is going to be all about building and making sure that we are all on the same page in terms of what we are trying to accomplish and what it is going to take to accomplish that.
Q: What are your thoughts on the quarterback position?
A: I feel like we have three good quarterbacks right now. Of course, Matt Cassel is our guy with Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater right there behind him, but those guys are looking good as well. I am confident in our organization, from the top to the bottom, from the head coach to who is going to do what is best for us for our team. The best player will play at any position, and I am just excited to get started tomorrow.
Q: You have been through first training camps with new coaching staffs beforehand. Where do you think this regime stacks up going into this training camp?
A: To be honest with you, ahead of the curve. That confidence comes from the guys who are buying in to what they are presenting to us, and having great coaches surrounding us as well. There is a lot more energy in the air and in the building. There is a lot more energy from the players and I know that it has a lot to do with the coaches and what they have prepared for us defensively and offensively.
Q: How do you maintain the energy from the locker room into training camp?
A: We build off of where we left off at mini-camp. Being on the same page. We are trying to accomplish winning the NFC North, our division, need to give ourselves the chance to get that ultimate prize, which is the opportunity to go to Arizona and play for a championship.
Q: How important is it to you to be able to play all sixteen games?
A: It’s important. It is really important for me. Taking these past two years, I have missed a couple of the last games and I have not been able to be a part of everything and fight through all of it. Personally, it is very important for me to do the small things and keep my body healthy and making sure I make it through the entire season.
Q: Are you more nervous or excited about the new coaching staff?
A: I am definitely excited. Nervous? No, not nervous. Taking on a new offense, the new offensive scheme. What we did in the OTA’s and mini-camps, but that is nothing compared to what we are about to experience now. I am actually excited about that. I have a lot of energy because I feel like we have some good pieces in place, we are surrounded with some good coaches and good people as well. I am excited to be here and I am happy. I am excited to get started.
Q: A lot of guys are returning to camp. Is there anything specific you look most forward to being down here?
A: Just being around the guys and being in the building stage. Just being away from your family because this is where all of the guys get together with the coaches, and you really get that bond and get the ball rolling towards winning a championship. With that, you have great memories, not only in practice, but also during the time off with the guys and just the fans and everything that comes with being in camp and leading to a new season.
Q: What are your expectations of Mike Zimmer?
A: I expect him to be tough. He is a hardheaded guy, and he expects the best from us. I definitely expect the intensity to be a little higher than normal. A little more contact than normal just off the feel of what I have of Coach Zimmer and what I feel like he would expect during training camp. Me personally, I am all in for that.
Q: As a player, how quickly do you want the quarterback position settled?
A: I feel like it is going to be very important for us. I feel like the coaching staff and the guys up top will evaluate and do what is best for us. It feels good to know that you have a couple of guys to lean on. It is not a secret that the quarterback position has not really played well, but that is why you bring guys in, you improve as an individual, and you try and take steps forward. From what I have seen from Christian and Matt, those guys have done that. That is the approach that they have been taking. That is all that you really can ask.
Q: Do you get nervous about the conditioning tests?
A: No, not at all. I should be able to make that even if I take two months off, especially with the types of conditioning tests they conduct. This is my first conditioning test. I am not nervous about it, but I would rather not do it to be honest. It is what it is, and I am sure it will be short and sweet. The type of work I do during my off-season I don’t their conditioning test can faze me too much.
Q: What do you have to do?
A: I don’t know. I heard like 16 60’s or something like that. It can’t be that much. They aren’t trying to run us into the dirt the day before the first day of practice.
Q: Is there a plan to limit you during camp?
A: Not that I know of.
Q: Is that a Super Bowl ring you are wearing?
A: No, it is not. I got married on July 19. We made it official. We were engaged July 4th, and that was an exciting and explosive night. We were talking about going to the court to get married, but we did something more intimate at the house and tried to keep it in the wraps. That did not last too long, but yes, I am official. I am a married man. Only about twenty family members were there. Some of my brothers did not even make it because it was supposed to be something small and we wanted to do something later.
Q: Are you honeymooning anywhere?
A: We came back to Minnesota the night after and attended the Starkey Gala. Met Forest Whitaker, Hillary Clinton, John Legend preformed. It wasn’t bad at all.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
We are finally here, finally. It’s good to put the pads on. I am looking forward to the 2014 season, and ready to get started.
Q: What have you been doing for the past month since minicamp broke?
A: Since minicamp broke I was able to get back home, see my family and friends, and I also continued to work out, stay in playbook, and continue to further my knowledge of the playbook.
Q: What do you expect, what have the guys told you about camp? Have they told you their horror stories?
A: Not at all. This group of guys just told me to bring my A-game and be ready to compete. That is what training camp is going to be all about - just competition. I am just looking forward to going to work every day.
Q: What were you able to do in the offseason to mentally prepare yourself for training camp?
A: I continued to look over the playbook, continued to study film, and I am big on correcting my mistakes. While we are here in training camp, my biggest goal is not to make the same mistake twice. I was able to watch the film over this past month off. I am just going to continue to try to get better with what happened in OTAs and minicamps.
Q: How did you balance in your preparation and enjoying the offseason when you got a chance?
A: I know that I have a goal in mind, like I said, and that is to not make the same mistake twice and be a better player when training camp comes around than I was in the OTAs and minicamps. When I make up my mind and tell myself that is what I want to do then it is easy for me to just balance it. My family understands that I have a role now and they understand that football comes first. I am still going to make time for them, but they understood while I was down there that it wasn’t all about seeing family, that it was still me trying to become a better player.
Q: What changes when the pads come on?
A: Guys can play relentlessly now. There is no more thinking about your next movement. All the guys have waited so long to get to this point, so we are just looking forward to competing. Competition makes the team better.
Q: What is your comfort level with the offense compared to shortly after you arrived?
A: I am somewhat comfortable, but I will never be totally comfortable because each day you can learn something new. Going forward into training camp I look to become more comfortable in the offense each day, each rep, and each opportunity to go out on the practice field.
Q: How much does it help you in the competition with Matt Cassel that this is also his first year in the offense?
A: It helps a lot and it also helps the team. Once I am able to show that I can compete at a high level, Matt has been doing a great job at competing at a high level, and Christian Ponder has done a great job. Those guys have been accepting me with welcoming arms and it will only make the team better being able to compete with each other.
Q: Do you think it is an open competition or do you think they are leaning a certain way?
A: That is something that I have not been focused on. I just want to become the best quarterback that I can be. I just feel that the competition will make the team better and I am just looking forward to getting started.
Q: Did the greeting from the fans today surprise you?
A: It was somewhat of a shocker. It just shows how loyal and supportive our fans are, and they just want to see us get started.
Q: You are not too far removed from living in the dorms, but some of the vets don’t like coming here and doing that. What are your initial thoughts on that? Did you talk to anyone what this experience will be like?
A: As soon as I walked into the dorm room, it just opened my eyes. I can’t let where we are staying affect how I am going to be out practicing. The veterans have told me just to come ready to compete and that you don’t spend much time in the dorm rooms. I am just looking forward to getting started with this group of guys, and hopefully getting the Vikings back to the playoffs.
Q: You said you went back and watched your film from OTA’s and minicamp, what is your evaluation of those performances?
A: The OTA’s and minicamp went fairly well. After looking over the film of the mistakes that I made as well as the good plays that I made, I can say it went fairly well. I am never satisfied with my performance because I want to be better than I was the day before. After looking over the film, I am just going to continue to put my head down and work hard.
Q: Is it going to be hard to block out the fact that you are trying to win a job, and watch what Matt or Christian does?
A: It won’t be hard at all because I have to compete with myself first. That will make me a better player, then I can compete with the guys in the room and that will make the team better. I am looking forward to the competition overall.
Q: Do you prefer to watch the mistakes you make on film or the successful plays?
A: I watch every play. You can learn from the good plays and you can learn from the bad plays. With the bad plays, I train myself to not make the same mistake happen twice. With the good plays, there is always something you build on, whether it is your footwork, your drop technique, or your mechanics. I am always trying to find areas to improve.
Q: Mike Zimmer is a rookie head coach, and you are a rookie as well. Has there been any conversation on your approaches to training camp?
A: No, we haven’t. Coach Zimmer’s focus has been on this team and the competition within the team. We are going to get started later today and looking forward to what is in store later in training camp.
Vikings Long Snapper Cullen Loeffler
Q: How stressful has the situation been for you?
A: It really has not been that stressful. I am just glad the investigation has now come to a close. I am back here, excited to play some football, and ready to go.
Q: When the investigation was going on, did it affect you and your family at all?
A: Sure, it affected my family just because I was spending time on the investigation. During the offseason, I try to focus on spending my time with them, but my family did not really know anything about it. It has not been discussed with them other than the fact that I was busy, and that was it.
Q: In what context did you take Mike Priefer’s comments?
A: I never thought that it was a serious comment. I always thought it was a joke. We both laughed about it, and I never thought anything about it.
Q: Were you surprised that it came down to this in these past six months?
Q: What was Chris Kluwe’s reaction from that? Do you remember any of that?
A: It happened so long ago, and I do not remember the exact direction other than he had laughed as well at that time.
Q: Were you nervous at all about your job, and potentially speaking against the coaching staff?
A: I was never worried about my job and never worried about the Vikings support. They have been very supportive throughout the process. They just wanted me to cooperate, which I did, and talk and engage in my side of the story for the investigation.
Q: What was it like going through that and Chris Kluwe asking you to speak up?
A: At the time, I was not really sure what was going to come about it. Everything that I have said is in the report, so if you want to address that question, you can find it in the report.
Q: Do you still have a friendship with Chris Kluwe?
A: I have not talked to him in quite some time.
Q: Have you talked to him since the report first came out?
A: No, I have not talked to him since the report.
Q: Have you spoken to him since his Deadspin article?
A: No, I have not.
Q: You know that the NFL is every man for himself. Is it difficult to stand up and answer some of these questions?
A: It was not difficult. I just told the truth, as the Vikings wanted me to tell the truth. They have been supportive throughout this whole process, so it has not been hard at all.
Q: What are your feelings towards Chris for putting you through this situation?
A: It is one of those things where I am ready to move past it and get back to football.
Vikings Tackle Phil Loadholt
Q: What’s going to be different about the offense?
A: I think you’re going to see a lot of different guys getting the ball. We’ve got a lot of talent, and we’re going to spread it out. And we are still going to do our thing, Vikings offense. But I think you’re going to see a lot more guys get some touches.
Q: Mike Zimmer is promising a tough physical camp, are you ready for that?
A: Yeah I’m ready for it, that’s what NFL camps are all about.
Q: You got a pretty good taste at the mini camps too?
A: Yeah, we’ve been working hard since we all got together. I’m excited and looking forward to the team to work.
Q: What’s the toughest part about having a new coaching staff, not knowing what to expect at camp?
A: I think the toughest part is just the new things, the new terminology, knowing what the new coaches want and what they expect from you and things like that. One of the good things for me is that I have my offensive line coach still here so we have some same terminology there. But I think everybody’s excited about it and looking forward to it.
Q: So how did you guys evaluate the offensive line as you headed into the offseason?
A: I think we played solid as a unit. There are always things that we can improve, which we will try to do now, and just continue to get better week in and week out. If we can do that like we did last year, we’ll be alright.
Q: What changes with the blocking schemes with Norv Turner versus the previous?
A: The terminology is the main thing. There are some new schemes that we have that we didn’t have and vice versa. But terminology is the main thing.
Q: How tough and physical do you expect this camp to be under Zimmer?
A: I think it’s going to be physical. Every camp I’ve been in since I’ve been here has been physical. So, that’s nothing new. It’s going to be a grind just like always and I’m looking forward to it.
Vikings Kicker Blair Walsh
Q: How do you think the Chris Kluwe situation is going to end up?
A: I am focused on camp right now. I am not going to talk about Chris and the situation that is going on with him. I did my part and answered my questions in the investigation, and I will just leave it where it is.
Q: Can you say if there was any truth to the text messages Chris Kluwe claims were sent?
A: I talked to the investigators and I feel that the job I did with them was sufficient. I am available when they need me and I will be fully cooperative, but I am not going to get into the details about it and talk about what was true and what was not true.
Q: What is the best and worst part of camp?
A: The worst part about camp probably has to be living in dorms for three weeks and leaving your house. The best part is that you get to know teammates on a different level. This sort of environment forces you to get to know your teammates. When you are at the facility, you are comfortable and you don’t talk if you don’t have to. Here, you do, and it makes you grow as a team.
Q: Blair, you have done this for a few years now. Would you be able to make a list of five things you actually missed about living in Mankato after last year?
A: I probably can, but we can go over this list in about three weeks.
Q: This is a breath of fresh air obviously with new coaches and whatnot. What are your impressions that you took from all of the minicamps and all of that going into this training camp?
A: I think they are going to be tough but fair. This new regime is going to hold you accountable in practice and we have to have guys performing at practice just like they would in the games. That does not necessarily mean practicing harder, but practicing smarter and getting the most out of your time out on the field.
Vikings Punter Jeff Locke
Q: What is Mankato to you?
A: It is a place to get better, you separate yourself from what you are comfortable with back home. You are not going to be comfortable in a game all the time, so I think it is a good experience to get down here, do something different, train on a different field, and get better.
Q: Will you experience a lot of different conditions being down here during the course of training camp?
A: It is definitely a good prep for this year. The field is open so we will get winds from any direction out here and obviously it will rain a couple times, it did last year. It is a good way to get better and get ready for the season.
Q: Have you been involved in training at TCF Bank Stadium and have you kicked there a couple of times?
A: I think three or four times. Cullen Loeffler, Blair Walsh and I have gone down to the stadium. We charted the winds, and made a wind map so we know what is going to happen when the winds are coming in certain ways on the weather report. The turf is a little different too so that is a new experience for us.
Q: Do you like it overall though? Is it a nice place to play?
A: I love it. That new turf is really nice. I think the guys are going to love it. The stadium is really nice, the wind is going to be a factor, but it is something we can get a handle on.
Q: You have a new coaching staff outside of Mike Priefer, how has the culture been different?
A: It is too early to tell from Organized Team Activities in my opinion. I think we will see a lot in camp from how the culture is going to be different, but as you said for a specialist it is kind of the same with Coach Priefer. We know the expectations that he sets for us, and we can try to get better at those.
Q: How much do you think those wind charts will come into play this season when you talk about different directions. Do you expect the same patterns that you get in December that you got in June?
A: Right now it is just a hypothesis for us of what we saw the four times we were there. It is not really set in stone, or a fact yet for what we are doing.