EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –No matter how much planning goes into a week's opponent, game plans are fluid in nature.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked during his Monday podium session about the success of the four-man rush (rather than an emphasis on blitzing) against Green Bay on Sunday and said he thought it was largely "how the game played out."
"They free-released the back the first couple third downs, and later on, they max-protected a couple times, and we ended up sacking him on one of those," Zimmer told Twin Cities media members. "And then as the game got on, it was more, 'Try to use more coverage in this situation.'
"But going in we have a plan," Zimmer added. "And I heard this from one of the coaches this summer: your first quarter, you kind of go with your game plan; your second and third quarter, you make your adjustments to what they're doing; and then the fourth quarter, you let it eat with your best plays. So that's kind of what we try to do."
Here are four more topics addressed by Zimmer:
1. Barr's tackle 'above board'
Zimmer responded to a question about Anthony Barr's tackle of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that resulted in Rodgers leaving Sunday's game with a broken collarbone.
He emphasized that it was nothing more than a clean tackle that unfortunately resulted in an injury.
"We're playing football, and it's unfortunate that he got hurt, but I think everybody was above board," Zimmer said. "We're not a dirty football team; we'll never be a dirty football team as long as I'm here.
Added Zimmer: "We're going to play within the rules, and sometimes things happen."
2. Bridgewater returning to practice
Zimmer confirmed that Teddy Bridgewater has been **cleared to return to practice** on Wednesday, more than 400 days since he suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL on Aug. 30, 2016.
Zimmer said he's happy to see the quarterback reach this benchmark in his recovery process.
"He's worked extremely hard. Obviously not only him [but] the training staff, the doctors, [strength and conditioning coach] Mark Uyeyama – all those guys have done a great job with him, trying to rehab him and get him ready to practice," Zimmer said. "So it's a great deal for Teddy, and we'll take it one day at a time just like we did for the past 14 months."
When asked if Bridgewater will be eased in slowly to practice, Zimmer said, "Yeah."
"He hasn't practiced in 14 months, so we're not going to [max] him out Wednesday," Zimmer added.
Although Bridgewater has been unable to practice with the team, he has attended meetings and has kept himself up to speed with the offense, which is under the leadership of Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, who took over at the position two-plus months after Bridgewater's injury.
"He's good. He's been taking the script every week and running it by himself over there on the other field, so he'll be ready," Zimmer said. "Teddy's smart."
3. Defensive line rotation working well
One of the aspects of Minnesota's defensive line is the way the unit's depth allows for rotation throughout the game.
Zimmer said he's pleased with the way it's gone thus far and hopes to see even more alternation as the season continues.
"We're starting to get some play out of Jaleel Johnson now, a little bit, Stephen Weatherly's getting in there a little bit, you know, we've got to continue to do some of that," Zimmer said. "But Shamar [Stephen is] a good player, and he goes in there and spells Tom Johnson and Linval [Joseph] and B-Rob (Brian Robison) and Danielle [Hunter] and Griff' (Everson Griffen). So I would like to continue to get more rotation, but I'm happy with the way things are going there."
He also specifically highlighted the play of veteran defensive ends Robison and Griffen. Of the latter, Zimmer emphasized that Griffen is one of the several players who does even more than what the stat sheet reflects.
"He ends up getting some opportunities to win 1-on-1, but there are other times where he has to play a certain block a certain way or try to free something up for Brian Robison or somebody else, so that's just how we do it," Zimmer said. "I think all of our guys are very unselfish defensively. So we just do what we do.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
4. Lamur answered 'next man up' call
The Vikings have become accustomed to maintaining a "next man up" mentality in the instance that an injury should occur.
Most recently, Emmanuel Lamur stepped in when Barr left Sunday's game under concussion protocol. According to the post-game stats, Lamur recorded five tackles (three solo).
"I think he did pretty well. I know he had a couple tackles – there was one play in the flat, there was one time he had the tight end man-to-man, and he covered him good," Zimmer said. "So I think he was solid. You know, in all these guys, there's things we can do better and things we do well. We're just trying to get better, all of us."