EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –The Vikings have gained a reputation for developing and retaining players, and it's a shared responsibility.
In his annual film review session with Twin Cities media Wednesday, Zimmer explained the team's focus on investing in and developing young players. He said it's a responsibility that the coaching staff and veterans readily accept.
"All of our older players take these [rookies] under their wings," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "They continue to show them and teach them and talk to them about the different coverages, the way we run a route or the way we do things."
After participating in a minicamp over the weekend, 21 Vikings rookies – eight draft picks and 13 undrafted free agents – have met returning players and started a learning process that will be enhanced through team meetings and eventually practices.
"You know, one thing every player wants to do is get better," said Zimmer. "There's no player that doesn't want to get better."
Zimmer said one key to a team's success is the ability to bring in the right players who will then continue to grow within the system and beneath veteran leadership. Sometimes, it's about finding diamonds in the rough. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer have proven effective in reaching into the late rounds or finding free agents who can be molded into the types of players Zimmer is looking for.
"The good thing is, we feel like we can find guys like that," Zimmer said. "Rick and myself are always looking for athletes, guys that we can mold into really what we're trying to do."
Zimmer likes the opportunity to develop talented athletes by refining and advancing their techniques and approaches.
Zimmer used 2015 third-round draft pick Danielle Hunter as an example of a player who showed significant signs of development in his debut season.
"We just try to coach them into trying to be better – using the gifts that they were given," Zimmer said.
A look inside the Vikings team meeting room
Zimmer fired a few film-related questions at media members during his session, not unlike actual team meetings he holds with his players. Just like a teacher, Zimmer aims to keep his students on their toes while in the classroom.
The coach explained that recent meetings have covered specific game outcomes throughout last season.
"I always like to ask questions at the end; I always like to reiterate points," Zimmer said. "I might just ask a [defensive] question out of the blue […] to an offensive player."
Last week, Zimmer asked 11th-year linebacker Chad Greenway to provide the definition of a "red zone discipline."
"He spit it out, and he was correct," Zimmer said.
Technology on the sidelines
After going through a number of game films, Zimmer reminded media members of a potential change involving the use of film by teams on the sideline for 2016.
A bylaw change proposal to allow review of video on Surface tablets was presented at the Annual League Meeting in March, but was tabled until later this month. Rules currently allow review of still images on the tablets that have replaced quick-print photographs.
"It's always been pictures on the sideline," Zimmer said. "[Then] they went to Microsoft Surface pads, which do the same thing."
It's a suggestion that Zimmer doesn't favor.
"Like the tape we were watching, you could watch that on the sidelines," Zimmer said. "There are some good things for it, but I'm not for it."