LONDON — A trio of Vikings — plus Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer — met the media Friday afternoon once the team wrapped up practice at Hazelwood Centre, the home of the London Irish professional rugby club.
Minnesota will go through its final preparations on Saturday for Sunday's game against Cleveland at Twickenham Stadium. The game is at 1:30 p.m. local time and 8:30 a.m. (CT).
The Vikings are 5-2 and sit atop the NFC North while Cleveland is 0-7.
Here are four highlights from Friday's media availability:
A sole focus
Zimmer's job is to win football games and get the Vikings ready to win each Sunday.
That's the case even 4,000 miles from home as the Vikings are in London. Zimmer on Friday credited the Vikings logistical and operations staff for taking care of the details and letting him and the coaching staff worry about the Browns.
"I think it was good, not so much the players, but the management people have helped me with some of the things," Zimmer said. "I'm about football, not who sits where on the airplane.
"I find out where we're going to have practice, and we practice," Zimmer added. "I'm just trying to get our football team to play the best they can and compete the best way we can on Sunday."
Twickenham, Round 2
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum is on a repeat trip to London. He crossed the pond during the 2016 season while with the L.A. Rams.
Keenum completed 32 of 53 passes for 291 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions against the New York Giants.
Keenum, who will start Sunday for the Vikings, will be in a familiar setting, playing at Twickenham Stadium for the second year in a row.
"It's great. I love the stadium itself, just kind of how it has the awnings, the overhang, it's got this open-feel to it," Keenum said. "The weather here, I think it's pretty cool.
"Just walking in, you feel like it's a soccer, or football, spot, the way the fans are, it's great," Keenum added. "They're really excited about American football. It's a rugby field, so it's wider, and it's just a cool place to play."
A team mentality
Vikings safety Harrison Smith is a key part of a Vikings defense that ranks fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per game (283.0) and fifth in points allowed per game (17.0).
Smith said Minnesota's defense prides itself on playing as a team. If all 11 players are on the same page, the back-to-back Pro Bowler said, that creates havoc for an opposing offense.
"I think you always have to start with the fundamentals," Smith said. "You do your job, you execute whatever assignment you have, 11 guys across the board, and then those turnovers come with that.
"You know, teams are going to start pressing if we're on our keys and making tackles, and everybody's running to the ball. Balls are going to come out, balls are going to get tipped, guys are going to make plays that way," Smith added. "So I'm not just saying we need to go get turnovers; it's more, go do our job, play fast, play physical, and the turnovers will come because of that."
Perhaps one of the best individual matchups of Sunday's game was going to be Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen going against Browns left tackle Joe Thomas.
Griffen has at least one sack in every game this season and has made back-to-back Pro Bowls, while Thomas had been to the Pro Bowl every season of his 10-year career.
Thomas suffered a triceps injury in Week 7 and saw his consecutive snaps streak end at 10,363.
Griffen said he is bummed out he can't go up against Thomas, who likely will be replaced by Spencer Drango.
"I really wanted to go up against Joe Thomas. He's one of the best in the game, and I like going up against the best because that's where you make a big name for yourself," Griffen said. "I was disappointed that he got hurt. I hate to see another player get hurt. I wish him a speedy recovery.
"The guy I'm going against now, it's his first time starting at tackle, so I'm just going to pin my ears back and rush like I normally do," Griffen said. "But yeah, I really wanted to go against Joe Thomas."