Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Happy Labor Day, we just had a good little practice and we’re trying to get them a little acclimated to St. Louis. The players will have a day off tomorrow and then we will get back to work on Wednesday and keep preparing. The guys are focused in and are working hard.
Q: What stood out about the guys you claimed on waivers?
A: Norv (Turner) was with both of them, one in San Diego and one in Cleveland, so he had a good feeling about both of them. We played against MarQueis (Gray) last year a couple of times and he’s a good athlete, he has some position flexibility and runs well. (Mike) Harris is a big tackle that has a chance to help us right away.
Q: Did you feel like you need some more experience along the offensive line?
A: We’ve got some younger guys, like I’ve said before, we’re always looking. We had a plan going in that we were going to look real hard. We had an idea of who might get released and who wouldn’t. The scouts did a great job of researching a lot of guys and the coaches, too. We came in and looked at a lot of guys yesterday before we put the claims in.
Q: How does the safety position look now that you have set your 53-man roster?
A: I don’t know yet, we will see, we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes in practice this week.
Q: What was the thinking on the release of Chris Crocker, Fred Evans and Kurt Coleman?
A: Chris (Crocker) and I had talked a long, long time ago about his situation and where it was. Nothing is set in gold. I’ve kind of told him the situation all along. We felt like Shamar (Stephen) was playing better, with him. The safety position, we’ve felt like we had a lot of the same guys, special teams had a lot of influence on it.
Q: What is the plan for
A: I’m only worried about this year and what we are doing now.
Q: What changes now that it’s the regular season?
A: Hopefully, not too much, the preparation or intensity. I’m sure it will pick up some, but we’ll start game planning, we’ll start narrowing things down. When you’re in training camp mode, you put a lot of different things in, look at a lot of different things and then you will narrow some things down that we feel is good against the team that we are playing each week and then we will go from there. Obviously, the 53-man roster, the 46 on gameday, that changes a little bit.
Q: When you look at this roster do you say, I can win with this team?
A: I don’t see why not. We’ve been playing good football, we keep doing smart things, we keep doing the things that we have done in the preseason we can go out and beat anybody. But we have to go out and do them, we can’t talk about it.
Q: What do you like about
A: He’s a smart guy. Sometimes, when you make the transition from corner to safety it takes those guys awhile, but he’s a smart guy, and does that. You have a little bit more athletic ability usually, when you bring a corner in there. It was unfortunate he got hurt early and we didn’t have a chance to see him a little bit more.
A: I’ve decided.
Q: Who’s it going to be?
A: I’ve decided.
Q: Have you made a decision on your middle linebacker?
A: Yeah, I’ve made a determination there, too.
Q: And that will be declared on Sunday?
Q: When did
A: He practiced yesterday, we had shoulder pads on, looked good, athletic, looked good.
Q: Do you see anything different in his conditioning since the incident?
A: No, he’s been working real hard. I didn’t see anything conditioning wise, I didn’t see anything technique wise, he looked really good yesterday.
Q: When you decided on your 53-man roster, did you step back and say, I like this team?
A: I’ve liked this team all along. Obviously, the cuts were hard, especially in some of the positions but like I said before, these guys have all worked real, real hard. The nucleus of guys, the guys we have out here now, you see guys still out there working. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do. As long as we continue to play real hard, we play real smart, we’re physical. I think the fans are going to like watching this team. I think they are going to like watching the things we do offensively and hopefully we will do some good things on defense too.
Q: What have you seen from
A: He’s really always been the same guy since I have been here. He’s come out of his shell a little bit more now. He’s a little more vocal in some of the things. As far as his work ethic and the way he prepares and the way he wants to please, that’s been the exact same every single day.
Q: Now that you have been through the offseason and the preseason is there anything that was eye-opening as far as being a head coach has gone?
A: Obviously, there has been some things that I have had to think about a little bit more. The first preseason game I was a little nervous for because I was doing a lot of different things. Using the timeouts and the challenges and those things, it’s just getting accustomed to doing it. As far as the football team, not so much other than the schedules, when we are going to take the team picture and things like that. What time we are going to practice today as opposed to yesterday and the day before, I think once we get into the routine of the season things will be a little smoother that was as far as schedules and how much time I spend with the offense, how much time I spend with the defense.
Q: Do you expect nervousness for your first career head coaching regular season game?
A: I was nervous every game as a defensive coordinator so I’m sure that won’t change.
Q: Did you guys raise the expectations at all after going 4-0 in the preseason? Did the way you play raise expectations of the season?
A: No, I don’t know about raising expectations. I think we’ve gained some confidence in some of the things, I think we’ve gained confidence in the techniques that we’re teaching and maybe the coaches and what we’re doing offensively and defensively but if our expectations weren’t very high to begin with then we probably wouldn’t be a very good football team anyway. I think the players believe in what we’re doing and the things we can accomplish if we continue to do the right things and it’s important to me, as I’ve said 100 times, it’s important to me that we have a team that plays real hard, plays real smart, does the right thing, don’t commit penalties and those things did show up in the preseason whether it’s just the preseason or not, it did show up, I think.
Q: Did you figure things out during the preseason that now you feel comfortable making defensive calls?
A: I figured it out.
Q: Do you plan on doing some or all of the play calls?
A: We’ll see.
Q: Were you able to get as hands on with players in addition to juggling the head coach’s responsibilities?
A: Pretty much. I’m not afraid to jump into any spot so if I see something. I was coaching some guys today, that’s what I do. I’m pretty hands on.
Q: What are your expectations of
A: Kyle is a tremendous young man that, like a lot of our guys, wants to do really, really well, wants to be successful, wants the team to be successful. I don’t think we have a lot of “I” guys, I think we have a lot of team guys and that’s what he is. I expect him to have a heck of a year. He’s a good tight end. I think some of the things that we can do with him, opening up the field, will help create some space for him and hopefully will create some space for everybody else.
Q: When you make a big decision during the game do you now have to think like a head coach and not a defensive coordinator?
A: It’s still all about a mindset about what we’re trying to accomplish. I’m going to try to do the best job I can in each of the situations and I’m sure that I’ll make some mistakes but hopefully I’ll learn from them. I made plenty of mistakes as a defensive coordinator, too. The more you’re in those situations, the more you learn. Norv helps me a lot. We talk about a lot of these situations. He’s been through all of these things quite a bit and so being able to talk to him on the sidelines and talk to him about timeouts. I remind him of things too so we’re just going to do the best job we can, just like the players.
Q: What did you see out of Antone Exum, Jr. that made you feel comfortable keeping him on the 53-man roster?
A: He’s a young, developing player that has some ability. He’s improved a lot on special teams and so we’ve got to keep getting him better on defense.
A: No, he’s playing corner and nickel like he’s always played but I told you awhile back that I might even look at him some at safety and he’s been playing safety on the scout team so I thought I’d just give him some drills there. Honestly, we’re trying to see what guys can do and how many guys you might need at emergency safety and he’s got to know what to do when you go in there. That’s no different than teaching other guys on the defensive line to play linebacker.
Q: So you view him still primarily as a corner that has the flexibility?
A: Yeah, and even when I was in Cincinnati I had a corner that played nickel corner and safety so he was a defensive back and defensive backs play defensive back, however we need to use him.
Q: Chris Crocker did a little bit of that for you, right?
A: Crocker did some. Oh man, what’s his name. I can’t remember now. We had another guy that did it too who was an older vet who was able to do a lot of things. Nate Clements.
Q: Among your injured players do you see anybody that might not be able to go on Sunday?
A: I don’t believe so.
A: Well Watts probably. Mauti, we’re expecting him to practice on Wednesday.
A: Yeah, I don’t know where he’s at.