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Presser Points: Zimmer on Center Position Battle, Plan for Peterson

MANKATO, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday that his staff met with the personnel department on the players' off day Tuesday.

Asked if the meeting shaped depth chart decisions, Zimmer joked that, "It's sitting in my office."

There's a lot of football practices and four preseason games left before those decisions have to be finalized.

Zimmer spoke about the competition at center between John Sullivan and Nick Easton. Sullivan missed all of 2015 because of an injury, and Berger filled in as a super sub.

"It's a good battle. Both of them have different strengths, and we're just trying to figure out what's the best combination for the other four guys in there," Zimmer said. "Whether it's the physicality or the intelligence or how we can work that out. We're going to keep rotating them this week, and I'll try to figure it out after the next break we have."

Here are four other topics that Zimmer addressed during his session:

Will he or won't he?

Zimmer said he anticipated Peterson practicing in pads on Wednesday afternoon. The coach also was asked about his plan for the three-time NFL rushing champ in preseason games.

Peterson did not play during the preseason in 2015, and the Vikings have been cautious with Peterson* *during camp because of a hamstring tweak.

"We've talked about it a little bit," Zimmer said. "We'll see."

Forecast on McKinnon

Zimmer said Monday that Jerick McKinnon "just got twisted." The coach said he isn't expecting McKinnon to practice Wednesday, but said he has several things in mind for McKinnon in his third pro season.

"My expectations are that Jerick is going to help us a lot offensively as a changeup back, in the passing game," Zimmer said. "I think there will be a lot of combinations for him on third downs. We want to be able to use Jerick a lot. I'm hopeful that he has a very good year."

Preaching turnovers

Zimmer has talked about the important focus on fundamentals during the team's time on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato. He also has creating more turnovers on his season wish list. Zimmer said more time in the system (the defense is returning every starter from last year's NFC North champs) should help the Vikings create more than the 22 takeaways from a year ago while maintaining fundamentals.

"It means that they can probably play a little bit faster, which allows them to see things a little bit quicker, but I'm kind of preaching turnovers more this year, because I think that can help us get to somewhere else," Zimmer said. "I don't ever want it to be in expense to fundamentals."

The Vikings tied for 19th in the NFL with 22 takeaways last season but tied for 10th in the league in turnover margin (plus-five) by taking care of the football.

Creating pressure could pay off

Justin Trattou recorded two interceptions in 2015, a remarkable stat line for a reserve defensive end. Linemen often are engaged with opponents or underneath where quarterbacks are looking to throw the ball. Zimmer was asked about the role that the Vikings front four can play in creating more turnovers.

"It's the pressure on the quarterback with those guys typically," Zimmer said. "To go a little bit further, if we could get into some second-and-12s, that helps doing some of those things instead of second-and-5s. The first downs are going to be important for us. With them, whether it be the different types of passes on first down or the running game, if we can get offenses into more manageable situations for us, I think that will help create more turnovers."

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