EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer returned to Vikings Organized Team Activities on Tuesday after missing the first two weeks of the offseason program to rest and recover from eighth eye procedure since last fall.
When Zimmer returned, he saw something in person that caught his eye and that he wasn't able to review on the practice tape while working from his ranch in Kentucky.
He saw quarterback Teddy Bridgewater going through rehabilitation work, dropping back and moving around the pocket.
"You know like sometimes when you see a guy every day you don't notice the progress that he's made," Zimmer said. "I'm gone for two weeks, and obviously he's not on the tape. I come back yesterday, and I say 'Well, Teddy is moving better, quite a bit better in my opinion'."
Zimmer noted that Bridgewater "has a long way to go" and will not be able to join his team on the practice field until he gets the OK to take that next step from his doctors.
"I think he's happy with the progress and I know that he's very impatient about wanting to get out there and go," Zimmer said. "But we have to do what's in the best interest of him in the long run. At the end the final say is going to be with the doctors. They gave him the green light to do a little bit more stuff on the side as you saw him today. It's just going to continue to take time."
Here are four other topics that Zimmer covered Tuesday:
Sam Bradford's comfort with system
Zimmer said quarterback Sam Bradford rested on Tuesday because of some muscle tightness.
Zimmer said he expects Bradford to be out on the practice field on Wednesday and noted that he has been in touch with Bradford while he was gone.
"Sam and I have talked a lot, even when I was gone, about a lot of different things," Zimmer said. "It's been good for him to be around the players and take more of an ownership role."
Bradford was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 3 last season and did not have the opportunity to participate in the Vikings offseason program. Zimmer thinks the practice time nowis paying off.
"Coming in new in the middle of the season and just trying to figure out where to live (last season), those things are all taken care of now," Zimmer said. "I think Sam feels much more comfortable and he's take on the things I am trying to get him to do and I think he feels better about it."
Edmond Robinson in LB battle
Edmond Robinson, a seventh-round pick in 2015, is one of the contenders to fill Chad Greenway's former roles as the third starter in the Vikings linebacker core.
Robinson made two starts as a rookie and has appeared in 21 games.
"He's had a good week this week," Zimmer said. "I think he might have started out a bit slow, but he's had a good week. You just keep giving him more and more and see how he handles things."
In the Vikings 4-3 base defense there is a starting job to join Pro Bowler Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, the team's leading tackler in 2016. After backing up Barr for the past two seasons, Robinson is a candidate to fill the role.
"He's actually playing a different spot right now than he was a year ago," Zimmer said. "But I think sometimes first and second year you are still trying to feel your way a little bit and third year you feel a lot more comfortable. It's a big year for him, but I think so far he's progressing well."
When asked how he feels about the battle so far, Zimmer said there's still a long way to go. Veteran Emmanuel Lamur has been sidelined for part of OTAs, and the Vikings also have a couple of younger players they are evaluating.
"It's so early, and Emmanuel has been out for four or five days now," Zimmer said. "We're going to look at all the guys in there. Like I said before Edmond's had a couple few good days. I'm not opposed to one of these younger guys if they end up being the guy."
Datone Jones at finding his string
The Vikings signed former Packers outside linebacker Datone Jones as a free agent in the offseason and are trying to convert the former first-round draft pick back to the position he played in college on the defensive line.
Zimmer has been impressed with how he's taken to the Vikings coaching and his ability to accept his new role.
"He's a great kid and is taking the coaching really well," Zimmer said. "He's a good athlete, obviously, being a first round draft pick. The transition for him is closer to what he did in college."
When Jones played at UCLA, he played on the defensive line. Zimmer and defensive line coach Andre Patterson think that defensive tackle is a position where he can excel.
"He's still learning a lot of the things that we are trying to teach in hand and pad level," Zimmer. "You see some flashes in there every day of his improvement. We'll just see where he goes from there."
Assessing the first two weeks of OTAs
Zimmer took time to speak about how proud he was of his players, coaches and staff and how they handled picking up the slack when he wasn't able to be at the first two weeks of OTAs.
"I thought the players did a great job of understanding the situation and trying to stay with the things that we are trying to progress to," Zimmer said. "The coaches did a great job of working together. That's always hard when the offense is going against the defense, but they worked together very well. They listened to all the direction that I gave them each day. I'm very lucky and very fortunate to have the coaches that I have and the team that I have."