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Presser Points: Zimmer on Easton, State of the O-Line

EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer announced Thursday that Nick Easton will be placed on Injured Reserve.

Easton’s last time participating in practice was on Friday, Aug. 3.

When asked about the specifics of Easton’s injury, Zimmer responded that “nothing really happened” but that the offensive lineman, who last year played guard but had been filling in for center Pat Elflein this spring and summer, has a bulging disc.

“But I’m not going to talk about it,” Zimmer said.

The Vikings are currently without Easton, Elflein – who has been rehabbing an injury sustained in the NFC Championship Game at Philadelphia – and Mike Remmers, who suffered an injury during practice on July 31.

Asked if the Vikings plan to look at bringing in someone on offensive line or will opt instead to see how the preseason plays out, Zimmer said, “We’re always trying different things, looking for different people. We’ll see what happens.”

Here are four other topics Zimmer talked about during his podium session:

1. Confidence in the offensive line

Zimmer emphasized that he does have confidence in the young players who have stepped in where needed on the offensive line.

“I know everybody’s nervous about our offensive line, but I like the mentality of those guys, I like how they work, I’m around them quite a bit, and they’re going to figure out a way to get it done,” Zimmer said. “So, calm – tweet that. That’s my new saying.”

The head coach responded to questions about a few specific linemen who have been rotated in throughout camp, including Tom Compton, who signed with Minnesota as a free agent this spring.

Zimmer said Compton had been on the team’s radar for some time.

“A guy that we thought, while he was at Washington, he played quite a bit, played some of their big package, played some in the offensive line, had multiple positions,” Zimmer said. “We felt like he’d be good. I know they’ve talked about him for three years now.”

Aviante Collins was also brought up, as the second-year lineman has primarily played tackle but recently has been bumped inside.

“A.C. is very athletic, a big guy, has some power, good feet, has some nasty streak,” Zimmer said. “Like I said, we’re looking at a lot of different things.”

2. A take on Cornelius Edison

After spending last season on Minnesota’s practice squad, center Cornelius Edison suddenly has been called up to take first-team reps in the absence of Elflein and Easton. Zimmer said that he’s done a “really nice job” and has improved significantly over his time with the Vikings.

“He’s a fighter. Another one of those guys with that kind of attitude. He’s got a little stoutness to him. So yeah, he’s done a nice job,” Zimmer said. “He goes against Linval every single day, so that’s a pretty good test, usually. You know, it’ll be nice to see him go against somebody else this week. But I think Kirk [Cousins] and him have worked together quite a few days now, so I don’t think that will be much of an issue.”

3. Using the preseason for evaluation

Zimmer said that his approach to preseason games hasn’t changed since first starting with the Vikings in 2014.

Ultimately, he uses the four preseason contests as further evaluation of his players.

“We’re trying to evaluate our players, trying to see if they’re using the techniques that we’re coaching, see if they’re playing the game the right way – [avoiding] pre-snap penalties, a lot of sloppy things that go on,” Zimmer said.

When asked if Zimmer knows how much the first team will play in Denver he answered, “I have a plan, yes.”

The Broncos have talented players on both sides of the ball, and Zimmer said that the opponent’s skill level is always taken into account when evaluating.

“But you’re also looking at the technique and how they do against that particular guy,” Zimmer said. “We’ll get a couple days against Jacksonville [in joint practices] next week, another good football team, so … we should be able to have a pretty good evaluation of where we are on some of the guys. But we also know how good Everson [Griffen] is, so some of those things, we’re able to see every day.”

4. Welcoming fresh faces

The score of a preseason game might not count against your record, but the Vikings are nevertheless looking forward to playing a “real” game against a team other than themselves.

Zimmer illustrated why it’s so significant to have a preseason game at this point in training camp.

“You’re out here practicing, practicing, and you don’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now you get a game, and you know that the regular season is three or four weeks away from this,” Zimmer said. “I think it will start ramping up with everything as we get moving here. I think it’s a good indicator of, ‘All right, now the season’s really coming up fast,’ and it’ll make sure they have a good sense of urgency continuing to move forward.”

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