EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings will head to Denver this week for their first preseason game of the 2018 season, one week after their first training camp night practice at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke to media members following Tuesday morning’s walk through and was asked to evaluate how Saturday evening’s practice went.
“First time we got on the turf, first time in the stadium, under the lights, so the energy and everything was good there,” Zimmer responded. “For the most part, I thought some guys made some good plays; I thought both sides of the ball had some good plays.
“It was nice to get in that new stadium and run around a little bit,” he added.
Kirk Cousins didn’t get the opportunity to take any deep shots down the field Saturday, but he got into a rhythm and said afterward that he was generally happy with how the offense performed and strides the unit is making.
When asked if he thought Cousins “started out a little slow” and may have been thinking too much at the start of the practice, Zimmer said he didn’t believe that was the case.
“I think he was a little bit juiced up because of the crowd and things like that,” Zimmer said. “That’s something that we need to find out about too, because we haven’t been with him in a game. We’ve gone against him, but [haven’t been in this situation]. So that’s part of it, too.”
Here are four other topics Zimmer discussed during his podium session:
1. What to look for in Preseason 1
Zimmer, along with the rest of the coaching staff, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and others, will have four preseason games to continue evaluation of their players in lead-up to roster cuts.
In the team’s first preseason game against the Broncos, Zimmer said he’s primarily watching for how the Vikings execute and if penalties will be avoided.
“Try not to get pre-snap penalties, sloppy stuff; make sure that we try to execute the best we can. Trying to get better every time we go out there,” Zimmer said. “Try to get a little consistency on both sides of the ball. Find out who some of the young players are as they get to go against somebody else.”
Zimmer added that the game also will give coaches a chance to key in on special teams and assess performance there.
2. A familiar face in Denver
The Vikings will see a familiar face in Denver this weekend when they face former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, who signed with the Broncos in free agency.
Zimmer said it “will be great” to see Keenum.
Zimmer later was asked to talk about the positives of Keenum last season as well as what he’s liked from Cousins so far through the spring and summer. He said that Keenum deserves credit for winning a lot of games and moving well in the pocket for the Vikings in 2017.
“He was a great teammate,” Zimmer said. “Made some outstanding plays for us.”
He then said of Cousins:
“Kirk, he’s been as advertised. He throws the deep ball well, very accurate, takes charge of the offense.”
3. Importance of depth
Teams all across the league have talented players on their roster, but another facet of successful teams is roster depth.
Zimmer confirmed a reporter’s question about depth being just as significant as the starting lineup’s skill set.
“If you get the wrong players hurt and you don’t have a lot of depth behind them, that really can derail a lot of things that you can do. And then you’re always trying to cover up for them and things like that,” Zimmer said. “Obviously the more depth you have the better it is, in case, you know, guys get injured in this game and miss a game or two, or three, or whatever.”
4. Not going with Incognito
Zimmer also was asked if the Vikings have any interest in reaching out to Richie Incognito because of an interview that Incognito did with TMZ in which he said the Vikings had reached out to him.
“No interest and totally false,” Zimmer said. “Tweet that.”