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Zimmer Addresses The Media On Monday

Posted Aug 18, 2014

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

After watching the tape from the Arizona game, I thought we did some good things on both sides of the ball, also on special teams. We were in position on a few plays and didn’t make them, we need to make those plays in order for us to continue to improve. I like the improvement, I like the effort that they are putting out and I think we are moving in the right direction. This week, today is training camp, just like a regular training camp day and then we will get into more tomorrow. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be more like a game week schedule. We’re still working on us, we’re still going to be in training camp mode. We are just trying to give them the way, basically the schedule, the routine that we go through during the week. 

Q: Do you have anything to say about how you will play the quarterbacks against Kansas City?

A: We have a plan, but I’m not going to say it.

Q: Do you still have your secret date to name a starter?

A: I do.

Q: What is your biggest take away from watching the four safeties play against the Cardinals?

A: We need to keep evaluating them. Some of them, there wasn’t a lot of action in some of the plays for them and that’s the one problem with safeties, sometimes you don’t get a lot of action. We have got to continue to evaluate them again this week and probably the fourth preseason game, too. We are going to keep dividing the reps, try and rotate guys in there and figure out what’s the best way to go.

Q: Do you start to limit your starter’s reps as you get into the third and fourth preseason games?

A: It won’t change too much this week. I think it’s important with us having new systems. Things come up that happen during the course of the game that I think we need to prepare and play and happen on the move, so they have to make reactions and decisions out there without coaches telling them exactly what to do when they’re out here in practice.

Q: Do you worry about more potential for injuries with more playing time?

A: Yeah, that’s a possibility, but we didn’t scrimmage against anybody, we haven’t tackled a lot in practice. I think we just got to keep going where we are going. We had a plan when we came in and I think we just stick to it.

Q: Do you treat the third game with a heightened sense of importance?

A: Honestly, no. This is still alot about us. We’re going to have a few more sections than we have had the last two weeks with the cards and the scout team work, but it’s still about what we do. We’ll have plenty of time to prepare for St. Louis when we get going in there. It’s more about the routine that we are going to do this week, so we get into the in-season schedule routine as opposed to really sitting down and game planning.

Q: Are you going to gameplan at all for the Chiefs?

A: About like we did the last two games, we look at them on tape and we will watch a little more tape on them than we have watched on the last two games, we’re not going to go in there and double (Dwayne) Bowe, we are going to do what we do.

Q: Blair Walsh had been kicking the ball well throughout camp, but hasn’t been as consistent in games, what do you attribute that to and is there a concern there?

A: Yeah, I don’t know that I attribute to anything yet. You know he’s been great in practice and he has been great previously. I expect him to make those kicks and I’m sure he will.

Q: What are your thoughts on Teddy Bridgewater in the fourth quarter?

A: I thought he played well, he was calm, poised. You could tell he was kind of feeling it the whole way, getting the ball in the right places. He was getting the protections done. I think he was feeling more comfortable. He’s told you, that he’s better when he doesn’t overthink things and just kind of let the game go. We go out here and practice hard and try to be perfect in practice and I’ve told the team this, we don’t want you thinking about those things when you’re playing the game, we don’t want you thinking about your footwork. We want it to be habit that you’re doing all these different things. We want you to think about the play and be reactionary and aggressive when you’re out there playing, those things will all come. 

Q: What is your impression of Anthony Barr and how he has handled the mental side?

A: He has been good. There are a lot of things we can do with him so when we move him to a different position or move him to another spot we are very conscientious of what he can handle at that particular time. As we expand through the course of the season it’ll expand as well.

Q: Linval Joseph was out at walk through, is he doing anything that is increased and is there any chance of playing on Saturday?

A: I doubt that he will play Saturday, but he is doing more increased work.

Q: What is Linval Joseph doing?

A: Rehabbing, rehabbing, he hasn’t been on the field yet.

Q: Anthony Barr talked about UCLA rarely playing with his hand on the ground, how do you think he has progressed there?

A: He is pretty good with his hand up or down, really, to be honest with you. He has such great acceleration. The sack he had the other night he was in a three-point stance.

Q: Is there much difference in that regard do you think?

A: Not really, we like him down, but if we were a 3-4 team he would probably be standing up. I don’t think there is that much difference

Q: When you watched the film what stood out to you positive or negative in terms of defense?

A: Honestly, a lot of it was better than I thought; you don’t ever like them to score. I think we played hard for the most part. We were in the right positions most of the time. I mean, it wasn’t glaring mistakes, like we didn’t know what we were doing. We were in position on three plays, the screen you know instead of tackling for a one-yard gain it ends up being about a 50-yard gain, the long ball on Xavier (Rhodes), he was in perfect position really and the guy out jumped him for the ball and then the touchdown on fourth-down Chad Greenway was in great position but the guy out jumped him for the ball. It’s our job as coaches to get them in position to make the plays and then it is their job when they get in those positions to make them.  

Q: Do you see you using Anthony Barr more on the end?

A: I see using Barr a lot in a lot of different ways.

Q: When do you want to move on from the evaluation period with the strong safety position and get that figured out?

A: As soon as we can. As soon as I’m sure with what we’re doing. (Robert) Blanton will be out here today, so we’ll get a chance to look at him, hopefully. As soon as I make the decision then we’ll go.

Q: Can you say anything more about the cornerback spot? Will Captain Munnerlyn be your guy to start the season?

A: Looks like it.

Q: Can you see TCF Bank Stadium turning into a huge home-field advantage for your team going forward?

A: If we keep winning. I think everybody felt more comfortable whenever it was, two nights ago, in everything we did. I think they’ll start feeling more comfortable like it’s their home as we get going. It helps playing good, it helps doing those things that we did the other night in the game, too. It’s like anywhere else – you get comfortable with it, you feel good about it, you get the crowd behind you, the crowd appreciates how you play, how hard you play, how smart you play, I think that all helps.

Q: What are your priorities with the running back depth when it comes down to crunch time?

A: With (Joe) Banyard and (Dominque) Williams, they both played well the other night. It gets you starting to think about your 53 (man roster) and how many running backs you can keep, fullbacks, the combination of tight end, fullback, running back. If they can continue to do well then that sure does help their cause.

Q: Last week you mentioned four different safeties by name. How do you evaluate their play?

A: Well like I said earlier, there was (Chris) Crocker, when he was in there he didn’t get a lot of action, (Kurt) Coleman did some good things, he missed a tackle. (Andrew) Sendejo did some good things when he was down close to the line of scrimmage. But you know part of it is for me evaluating the safety is not when they are down by the line of scrimmage, it’s when they are back and when they have to cover guys and when they have to get in there and we didn’t get in as many of those situations the other night as I had hoped, whether it was because of what they were doing or what they were calling.

Q: Did you get any clarity at the Mike linebacker position?

A: No, honestly it’s close. I think they both do some good things and the problem with that the other night was I think Jasper (Brinkley) played eight plays or something like that because of what they were doing offensively, so we are going to get him in some of the substitution groups so we can get a better, longer evaluation of him. 

Q: How many matchup problems does a guy like Kyle Rudolph create with his size and ability to run?

A: Obviously, the tight ends always can give you problems but if you don’t have other areas where you have to be concerned about then it makes it a little bit easier. It depends on if you are a zone team or a man team and who you’ve got playing in there and all of those become factors. If you have to pay more attention to the outside then it typically opens up the tight ends a little bit more. If you don’t have to pay much attention to them, you can pay more attention to the tight ends.

Q: What are your thoughts on the increase in illegal contact calls? And how do you adjust to that for the regular season?

A: Well yeah, but we don’t coach penalties, we coach to play within the rules. We had a holding call and an illegal contact. The illegal contact shouldn’t have happened, we just got a little too deep where we collisioned him but we’re going to play within the rules and we’re going to do the best job we can. I don’t worry about this spike for everybody else because I just worry about what we do. I don’t think we had any in the first ballgame, we had the two this week. We’ll just keep coaching it better.

Q: You don’t coach penalties, but is it harder to know what a penalty is anymore?

A: Honestly, the good thing about it is they’ve clarified it. When there’s ambiguity in the rule,  or you’re not sure, then that makes it difficult, but they’re pretty clear on this.

Q: Do you have any comments on Shaun Prater or Jabari Price who left the game on Saturday?

A: Prater, I don’t think he’s going to go today. He has to get cleared but it sounds like he’ll go tomorrow. Jabari probably won’t play this week.

Q: What about Gerald Hodges?

A: Hodges probably will not play this week.

Q: What does your defense ask of the strong safety?

A: About the same as the free safety. I mean, we try to be interchangeable the best we can. Our guys have to be up in run support, they have to be back in coverage, they have to be able to get on some slot receivers, they have to be able to blitz. We aren’t looking for one-dimensional guys. We’re not looking for the old in-the-box safeties. Then they have to have intelligence. Really, we want all of our guys back there to be basically the same guys.

Q: Do you have an injury update on Josh Robinson or Robert Blanton?

A: Blanton, I think is going to go today and the other guy, who knows.

Q: Does Hodges have an ankle injury?

A: Hodges has a knee, I believe.

Q: And Price?

A: Price is not going to play this week.

Q: Have you disclosed his injury?

A: No.

Q: How do you assess the offensive line on Saturday?

A: Very good. One of the things I asked about is last week, which I was proud of, is we have to pass protect better, which I thought we did, and they blitzed a lot of in the ballgame. We had to rush better and I thought we did that in the ballgame. That part was good to see, but I thought the offensive line played well.

Q: Are you starting to see that continuity among the starting five starting to pay off?
A: Yeah, it’s nice to get [Matt] Kalil back in there, too. Where he’s starting to get in the mix a little bit more and he missed a lot of time in OTAs and that. Getting all of those guys going back together is good and (John) Sullivan does a nice job of keeping everything in order and making sure where guys are going. They all played pretty well the other night.

Q: When you went back and watched the film, how did you evaluate yourself in the two-minute situation?

A: Good. I don’t know.

Q: To be clear Cassel will start?

A: Cassel will start this week.

Q: Is there value to seeing Bridgewater play more with the first team?

A: That’s a possibility.

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