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National Media Weigh-in on Mike Zimmer's Impact on Vikings, Bengals

CINCINNATI — A confluence of Mike Zimmer's time with the Bengals and his past two-plus seasons in Minnesota occurred a few steps north of the Ohio River this week.

He brought his current team to the practice fields of his former team for two days of practices before Friday night's preseason opener.

Zimmer was Cincinnati's defensive coordinator for six seasons (2008-13), helping the Bengals defense rank in the top 10 in points allowed and yards allowed four times.

National media members descended on Cincinnati for two days of practices between the Vikings and Bengals. Familiar with his work of helping transform the Bengals into a perennial playoff contender, they commented on what they're seeing him do for the Vikings, the reigning NFC North Champions, after 20 seasons as an assistant.

The Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King mentioned asking Alex Boone about Zimmer before telling Vikings.com that Zimmer is "a fighter."

"He's a guy who everybody looks at and basically says, 'I want to play for that guy because he's me,' " King said. "He had to fight for everything. He had to fight for this job, nobody wanted to give him an NFL head coaching job.

"The Wilfs did a smart thing, Rick Spielman did a really smart thing," he added. "I think he's paying off. Of all the things this offseason that I was just happy for, simply because of the common decency of it, was Mike Zimmer getting a second contract. It's utterly fantastic."

The Vikings extended Zimmer's contract the day they reported to training camp.

NFL Network's Brian Baldinger told Vikings.com that he's been impressed by what Zimmer has done to vault the Vikings from a league-worst in points allowed (30 per game) in 2013 to fifth (18.9 points allowed per game in 2015) in two years.

"I love what Zim' has done defensively, I love the talent," Baldinger said. "I love the depth that they have, how they've continued to build this thing to become the fifth-best scoring defense in the league in two years. I mean, it's monumental."

Baldinger interviewed Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko, who said Zimmer is "a well-respected guy in our locker room and in this city."

"He was here when I first got here, and he kind of changed the culture around here," Peko told Baldinger. "We were losing games, our defense was kind of horrible, and he came in and fixed all the problems and got us playing really well on defense. A big shout out to Zimmer."

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco said he likes moves that Zimmer made heading into this season, including hiring Tony Sparano (offensive line) and Pat Shurmur (tight ends), who both have previous head coaching experience.

Zimmer said Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis has impacted his coaching approach in "a lot of different ways.

"I got a chance to see how Marvin does things and how he treats people, the way he earns respect, a lot of that stuff, Zimmer said. "You know, his foundation was big. … Marvin's got a great heart. He's great for the city. So a lot of those things really carried over for me.

"I started a foundation up in Minnesota … Back in the old days when everything was, 'You have to do this, you have to do this,' but I think there's a fine line with all that, and I think I learned a lot about that with Marvin."

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