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Mike Zimmer: Plan is to Return to Vikings in Early June

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer gave an update on his health Friday morning and said he plans to return to the team in early June.

Zimmer, who recently had an eighth procedure on his right eye, is resting at home at his Kentucky ranch and staying connected to the team through video review of practices, phone calls and text messages.

Zimmer told the Twin Cities media on a conference call that he plans to return to Minnesota on June 4 and have a doctor's appointment on June 5, which is Zimmer's 61st birthday.

"Hopefully at that point we're good to go," Zimmer said.

While the Vikings held the first three practices of Organized Team Activities this week at Winter Park, Zimmer stayed engaged and informed more than 700 miles away.

Zimmer said he's watched film from each practice, texting feedback to players and also joining Vikings coaches in meetings on a daily call.

"The players are probably getting tired of me texting them because I text them things I see on tape," Zimmer said. "Then I talk to the coaches and make sure they relay it.

"The coaches have done a great job relaying the message from one practice to another about things I think we have to get better at in all three phases," Zimmer added. "I do miss being in the meetings with the players and especially being out on the field where I can give immediate feedback to technique and things like that."

Zimmer, who is entering his fourth year at the helm in Minnesota, said being away from his team has been a chore.

"It's not much fun," Zimmer said. "Usually I love it down here in my place but I don't love it too much this week.

"It was kind of a forced situation, but I guess in the long run it's the best thing for me," Zimmer added.

Zimmer said he's been focused on leisurely activities to keep himself busy but stress-free.

"My house is done, and I'm just kind of cleaning it up a little bit," Zimmer said. "I go for walks … (Friday) morning I went up to my neighbor's and had breakfast.

"I get on my quad and ride around the property a little bit, nothing really strenuous," Zimmer added. "I fished a little bit … just stuff like that."

Zimmer said that when he does focus on football, he makes sure to be mindful of the stress he puts on his eye.

"I've been pretty smart about it," Zimmer said. "I take a lot of breaks … so I'm not looking at the iPad the entire time."

Zimmer also provided details on his right eye, which currently contains a gas bubble.

Zimmer met with a doctor in Cincinnati on Wednesday and said the gas bubble, which used to take up 95 percent of his eye, is now down to less than 60 percent. 

"It's basically like looking through a water balloon," Zimmer said. "If I'm looking straight ahead, I can't see because the bubble is there."

Zimmer said the bubble, which will eventually dissolve, is like a Band-Aid for his retina. The hope is that the retina stays in place after the bubble dissolves.

"As long as when the bubble dissolves, the retina stays there, everything should be good to go," Zimmer said.

Zimmer also noted that the doctor in Cincinnati gave his good feedback on the progress of his eye.

"The pressure was down, so that was a good thing," Zimmer said. "He's got me off of the drops I was on to get the pressure back normalized.

"Then I talked to a doctor (Thursday) night and said that when I look down, the bubble kind of goes up in my eye. I look down and I can see clearly, " Zimmer added. "He said that's a really good sign."

Zimmer said he's received plenty of positive support from those in and out of the NFL.

"I've been getting a lot of well wishes from fans and people that have had retina issues and coaches around the league (and players)," Zimmer said. "(The support) has been awfully good."

Zimmer said he's been pleased by what players and coaches have done so far but reminded media members that it is early in the process. He said this time is about laying a good foundation for when the Vikings report to training camp in July.

Although he's been through a significant amount since he was diagnosed last November, Zimmer remains resolved and is looking forward to his fourth season as Minnesota's head coach.

"This will not keep me from coaching," Zimmer said. "I asked (the doctors) one time, 'Is this a lost cause? If it is, let's just let it go.' He said, 'No, it's not like that. If it was, I would tell you.' Obviously I've thought about it, but this is not going to keep me from coaching one way or another."

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