MANKATO, Minn. — Training camp is the point in the year when Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is focused on improving his team, but also doesn't mind working in a joke at his press conferences.
Asked if the team added more deep passes in the first couple of days of this year's training camp, which is the third for quarterback Stefon Diggs, Zimmer quipped, "Well we knew we had all you guys (the media) here, and we wanted to make sure you saw some."
"Sometimes it's just based on coverage or based on different things," Zimmer continued, shifting into a more serious answer. "Teddy has been working on throwing the deep ball, and it's just something else to work on. We work on screens, work on crossing routes, short throws, quick throws."
Jarius Wright, who had the team's longest reception in 2015 at 52 yards, hauled in one of the deep heaves on Saturday, but several other long plays resulted from catch-and-runs.
The Vikings want to have a balanced offense and know the importance of the run game with Adrian Peterson, but they also know that the ability to connect on deep shots could make teams pay for loading up the box against the defending league rushing champ.
Here are four other topics from Zimmer's media session Sunday:
Waynes "more comfortable"
The pass attempts in the first couple of days of practice have enabled evaluations of cornerbacks as well. Zimmer was asked about the progression of 2015 rookie Trae Waynes and said the cornerback "seems a lot more comfortable in everything he's doing."
"I've been working with him quite a bit trying to get him to finish plays a little bit better. I think that's what he needs to do," Zimmer said. "He's been really close on a lot of times. Like there was a play yesterday, kind of a crossing route instead of going in front of the receiver to try and knock the ball down he tries to go behind it and he gets shielded by the receiver's body. So it's those things he has to continue to go. I think he's done better getting out of his breaks. The kid has got great acceleration."
Zimmer said he's looking forward to seeing Waynes and others play bump-and-run coverage once pads go on, starting today.
Same old Terence
Zimmer also was asked about Trae Waynes, who is also prepping for his second season with the Vikings. It's Newman's 14th NFL season, and he's had Zimmer as his defensive coordinator or head coach for eight of those.
"He looks like he always does," Zimmer said. "Very intelligent, smart, helping a lot of the other guys. When we get into the press today he'll start looking even better but he's gotten beat on a couple balls like they all have."
Unheralded but not unnoticed
Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks understandably are frequently mentioned in any discussion about Vikings linebackers. Barr, a 2014 first-round pick, is coming off his first Pro Bowl season, and Kendricks led the Vikings with 105 tackles in his inaugural campaign.
Zimmer confirmed he's "expecting a lot" out of the former Bruins teammates but then took time to mention a draft classmate of Kendricks.
"The guy that's been impressive to me has been Anthony Harris," Zimmer said. "He's a big guy that can run, he's physical, he learns, he's a good kid. I think he keeps improving all the time. I think he's got a chance to be a good football player, I think he'll show up a lot in these preseason games."
The face-offs between Everson Griffen and Riley Reiff date back to their time together at Southern Cal. Zimmer said each player tries to make the other better, and that should continue once pads go on.
"Everson does have great speed and great quickness off the ball," Zimmer said. "That's a good matchup over time. Those two get a lot of work in."