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Training Camp Talkers: Karl Scott Integrating Tips from 'DB Gurus' Nick Saban & Mike Zimmer

EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings defensive backs coach Karl Scott has had the opportunity to learn from some pretty renowned defensive coaches.

After working under seven-time national champion Nick Saban at Alabama from 2018-2020, Scott joined Minnesota's coaching staff under Head Coach Mike Zimmer this offseason.

Scott spoke with Twin Cities media members Friday and called it an "honor and pleasure" to absorb all he can from a DB pundit like Zimmer.

"Every day you walk into his office, you're eager to learn something new," Scott said. "I want to pride myself on being a guy that's always evolving, and I've had that opportunity to do that as well as bring some things to the table, you know? But at the end of the day, Coach Zimmer knows what it looks like. I trust his leadership, and it shows on the field."

According to Scott, the pair of coaches go "back and forth" daily, trading ideas and brainstorming ways to improve the Vikings defense and adapt as needed after a tough 2020 season.

"That defensive staff room, it's obviously a little different than being in college where you're also worried about recruiting and all that stuff," Scott explained. "You take out the recruiting and add more football, and I can't get enough of it."

Likewise, Zimmer said during his own media session that he's enjoyed his first months of working with Scott.

"Karl is a terrific coach. Very smart," Zimmer said. "We sit in there all the time and talk about, not just technique, but schemes and things like that. I'm extremely appreciated that he's here."

A jump from the college level to the NFL can carry with it specific challenges, but Scott emphasized that there definitely are similarities between Minnesota's defensive scheme and Alabama's.

"The funny part about Coach Zimmer is, everybody wants to compare when they ask me – Coach Zimmer versus Coach Saban," Scott said. "They're both DB guys. They're both gurus when it comes to that position group.

"But at the end of the day, they both have the same philosophy as wanting to be tight in coverage, close windows, make it tough for offensive guys to compete for catches," Scott continued. "As far as that goes, they're pretty similar. Totally different in personality, but they've been successful in their own right. So it's been a pleasure to work with Coach Zim."

Quote of the Day

"They've gotta know when they're doing a good job. That's critical. My position is a very non excitable position. I'm probably the only guy who gets excited when we block the 3-technique in this whole place. People have got to know that they're doing their job, too. Building players' confidence to let them know that they're great or have the potential of being great is just as important as correcting the negative in my opinion. What me and [assistant offensive line coach Ben Steele] do is we emphasize both. If you screw up, we're going to let you know. If you do a good job, we're going to let you know."

— Vikings offensive line coach Phil Rauscher on his "boisterous" nature at practice and balancing praise and criticism of players. (Note: Watch for a written feature on Rauscher and the offensive line following Friday's practice).

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.

2 More Points

Here are two other takeaways from Friday's media session.

1. U.S. Bank Stadium practice

For the first ever, the Vikings will hold a training camp practice at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The team will practice in front of fans at the stadium Saturday in a session scheduled for noon.

Zimmer expressed excitement for getting back not only the state-of-the-art venue but especially in front of a crowd after the COVID-19 pandemic forced games to be played in an empty stadium last season.

"It will be good to get down to the stadium tomorrow. Some of the rookies have never seen it, really so we'll be able to get down there and do some work in there," Zimmer said. "Other than that, we're just getting ready, excited for Denver to come in here next week. So it should be fun, good competition, and I think we'll get a lot of good work done."

Zimmer noted it will "pretty much" be a typical practice.

"We're going to do some normal stuff, and then we'll do a little bit of game-like situations."

Click here to claim your tickets for Saturday's practice at U.S. Bank Stadium. Fans are encouraged to come early and visit the plaza to enjoy all the activities and excitement of a typical Vikings game day.

2. The best ability is availability

Zimmer expressed some level of frustration Friday about players needing to miss extended practice time.

While injuries certainly can't be predicted and recovery can't be rushed, it's tough to evaluate players during training camp if they're unable to participate.

Asked about rookie Christian Darrisaw's progress returning from a groin injury, Zimmer said, "I don't know. He's one step forward and two steps back."

Darrisaw participated in individual drills Wednesday and Thursday but has not yet been a part of team work.

"Hard to get it done when you're not out there doing stuff," Zimmer said.

He also noted difficulty in evaluating a kicking competition due to Riley Patterson missing time.

"They said they had a strong leg. We felt like he was one of the top guys in college," Zimmer said of Patterson. "[But] he hasn't done much, either.

"It's hard to have competition when, I think, he's only kicked one day," he added. "If he comes out here and kicks, number one, and makes them, number two, we'll have some competition."