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Notebook: Zimmer Provides Update on His Eye, Discusses LB & CB Depth

INDIANAPOLIS — One of the biggest values for teams at the NFL Scouting Combine is the chance to evaluate college prospects from a medical perspective.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer provided a health update of his own right eye Thursday in Indianapolis.

Zimmer said he is scheduled to have another surgery on April 18 and a cataracts surgery two months later, bringing the total number of procedures to six. Zimmer said he will be unable to fly for three weeks after the April surgery.

If everything goes according to plan, Zimmer said he'll "be good to go" and that there won't be any more surgeries needed.

Zimmer said his right-eye vision, which he described as blurry, hasn't impacted his ability to dive into offseason work. The only change, he quipped, has come when he's out hunting.

"(The doctor) said after this next surgery that I'll have 50 percent better (vision)," Zimmer said. "And then hopefully after the cataracts (surgery), it'll be good. I'm learning to shoot left-handed, though. I'm getting pretty good."

Zimmer first experienced vision issues in October, and eventually underwent emergency eye surgery on Nov. 30 and missed the Vikings game against Dallas on Thursday Night Football.

Zimmer said doctors have told him there was nothing he could have done to prevent the issue. 

"They don't really know," Zimmer said. "There's a high likelihood that it could happen with the other eye because it happened with one eye. But there's nothing I could have done differently."

Linebacker depth

Zimmer was asked about Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, who is weighing whether to come back for a 12th season in Minnesota or retire.

"I've talked to Chad. He hasn't definitely told me yet," Zimmer said. "I think he's still weighing everything. I think he's probably leaning one way or the other.

"I think he really likes playing for the Vikings and he loves playing football," Zimmer said. "He's a guy that's going to have to stay busy anyway based on his personality." 

If Greenway chooses to retire, Zimmer said the Vikings have two internal options at his outside spot in Minnesota's base 4-3 defense in Emmanuel Lamur and Edmond Robinson, Jr.

Both linebackers played mostly on special teams in 2016.

"I think those guys have a chance to be good players," Zmmer said. "I've known Lamur for a long time.

"Edmond, I don't think he had the year he felt like he should have had last year," Zimmer added. "But he's a young, talented guy that has shown a lot of progress over the course of two years."

Newman's future

The Vikings are also waiting to hear on the status of veteran cornerback Terence Newman. The 38-year-old had one interception in 2016 and played well despite being the league's oldest defensive player.

"I don't think he's totally decided on anything but I've talked to Terence a couple times," Zimmer said. "I think he does (want to keep playing)."

Newman was a first-round draft pick in the 2003 NFL Draft and star performer* *at the combine before the event was televised.

The future at nickel

Speaking of cornerbacks, Captain Munnerlyn is slated to be a free agent when the new league year opens next week.

Munnerlyn, who has been Minnesota's slot cornerback for the past three seasons, had 51 tackles (according to coaches tally) and three passes defensed in 2016.

Zimmer said the Vikings would welcome Munnerlyn back, but added there are business decisions that are involved. 

"A lot of players have to go out and test the market to see what there market value is," Zimmer said. "But we always keep the door open if it's a good deal for both sides.

"My job is to say where the guys are, where I think they're going to be, where I think they can be. Rick's job is to do all the financial stuff," Zimmer added. "We have to fit everything under the cap and do all that stuff. Honestly, I think the way we do it is good for the players because some of these guys can maybe break the bank and good for them. If that's what happens with Captain, then good for him. If not, we have an established guy."

If the Vikings are looking for a new nickel cornerback, they could turn to 2016 second-round pick Mackensie Alexander.

Alexander, who impressed the Vikings at the combine a year ago, had a limited defensive role in his rookie season.

But Zimmer said he liked what he saw from Alexander both in the slot and as an outside cornerback, but added the former Clemson standout needs time to learn the pro game.

"He's a very, very talented kid," Zimmer said. "College rules are so much different for defensive backs than they are in the NFL.

"Defensive backs take a long time, especially ones who want to get up in people's faces, they got away with a lot more things than they can get away with (in the NFL)," Zimmer added.

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