EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — When Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked Wednesday if he expects to see a "new team" Sunday when Minnesota visits Buffalo, he said he expects to see one he's seen before but not enough of during the regular season.
"This is not a magical answer but the team that played so good in the preseason, played good in the first game, played good against Atlanta was doing the things (to win games)," Zimmer said. "Hopefully they'll understand the importance of this to playing winning football."
View images from the Wednesday, October 15 practice at Winter Park.
The Vikings (2-4, 0-2 NFC North) play the Bills (3-3, 1-1 AFC East) at noon (CT) Sunday, and players on offense and defense each spoke Wednesday about wanting to play with more consistency.
"That's the big word in this league," rookie running back Jerrick McKinnon said. "You've got to have a guy that's consistent in what he does, whether it's pass (protection), running the ball, making the right reads."
Defensive end Brian Robison said when all 11 players "are in their gap and where they're supposed to be, we play pretty dang good defense."
"I think we know what our identity should be, and now it's a matter of being consistent at it," Robison said. "I think that's what we've had a problem with so far this year. If we're able to be consistent, then we can play lights out football. We can play like we did against St. Louis, but if we get out of our gaps and we're not necessarily all 11 guys in tune to what they need to be, it's going to turn out like Green Bay. We need to make sure we play more consistent, and our identity will show up if we do that."
Safety Harrison Smith said that applies to personal aspects for each player within the play.
"As soon as you start going up and down, or getting a little sloppy with your technique or your eyes here and there is when you get hit for a home run, so just being consistent on every play, every down," Smith said.
The quest for consistency isn't limited to the Vikings.
Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone, who is in his second season at the helm, also mentioned a similar search during a conference call with Minnesota media.
"We're looking for consistency. We've been up and down," Marrone said. "Obviously, we made a switch at quarterback (to Kyle Orton). We're trying to get ourselves situated to what he does well and the receivers used to him and things like that. Trying to get the running game to produce better. We're trying to get better and become more consistent on the offensive side of things.
SIGNIFICANT STATS: The Vikings have committed 10 turnovers (nine interceptions, one fumble) and allowed 22 sacks this season, but none have happened in Minnesota's wins this season, a correlation not lost on Zimmer, who mentioned it during his media session Wednesday.
"I have an interesting stat for you, you know I've talked a lot about winning and losing and what causes you to win and what good teams do and what bad teams do, the two games we've won we've had no turnovers and no sacks, the (four) games we've lost we've had 10 turnovers and 20 sacks. It kind of tells you where it's at right there."
PARTICIPATION: Vikings veteran linebacker Chad Greenway (rib/hand) fully participated at Wednesday's practice. Injuries have kept Greenway, Minnesota's leading tackler the past six seasons, from playing the past three games.
Cordarrelle Paterson (hip), Chase Ford (foot) and Smith (ankle) also fully participated. Linval Joseph (ankle) and Sharrif Floyd (elbow/ankle) were limited. Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin), Gerald Hodges (hamstring), Jabari Price (hamstring) and Corey Wootton (lower back) did not participate.
For Buffalo: Marcus Easley (knee), Ty Powell (ankle) and Marcell Dareus (not injury related) did not participate. Kyle Williams (knee), Garrison Sanborn (knee), Da'Norris Searcy (knee), Brandon Spikes (ribs) and Aaron Williams (wrist/neck) were limited.
WEATHER: The temperature at Winter Park at the start of practice was 59 degrees Fahrenheit, on a sun-drenched day.