EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer had a little extra pep in his step Wednesday morning, and he’s hoping his team does, too.
The Vikings are coming off some much-needed rest during the bye week, and Zimmer said the main goal was to rejuvenate and see players physically recharge.
“The biggest thing for us during the bye was to get off their feet. I know some guys worked out, but it’s about trying to get your legs back,” Zimmer told Twin Cities media members.
Zimmer recalled old CBA rules when teams ran two-a-day practices during training camp and “by the time you start the season, you’re all beat up.”
“Honestly, I know the football team felt this way, when you go five weeks in the preseason and you’ve got nine games, that’s 14 weeks, three-and-a-half months, whatever that is, you get to the point where, ‘Man, I just need a break,’ ” Zimmer said. “We got the break this [past] week, and hopefully they’ll feel refreshed. I know they were tired going into last week, I thought.”
The bye week was aptly timed for the Vikings, who are entering a second half of the season that features four divisional games and three prime-time games over the next four weeks, two of which are on the road.
“I think the biggest thing is that we come back refreshed, excited about this seven-game stretch that we have coming up. I’m excited about this opportunity that we have against the Bears, and we’ll try to play our best football of the year at this time.”
Here are four other topics Zimmer addressed during his podium session:
1. Adding Ameer Abdullah
The Vikings added Ameer Abdullah to the roster over the bye week.
The former Lions running back said Monday that he’s excited for the opportunity with the Vikings, and Zimmer is just as positive about adding Abdullah to the roster.
“He’s a guy that has great acceleration, quickness, catches the ball well, a returner,” Zimmer said. “We’re just hopeful that we added another big-play piece to the offense, another thing that Flip (Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo) can use.
“Similar to what the Bears are doing with adding some of their [quick offensive] guys, so maybe we can add a little bit more speed,” Zimmer added. “Maybe we use a [him on] a little bit more unique things with some of the things we’re doing.”
2. A blue-collar football team
Danielle Hunter has been having a career season, but the defensive end continues to demonstrate humility and doesn’t engage much with the spotlight, much like the rest of his teammates.
Zimmer was asked if he wants his players to be more “superstar” or more “nasty” on defense.
“Well, we can be nasty when we want to. I think we’re a blue-collar football team,” Zimmer said.
“Some of the offensive guys are a little bit more celebrities – [Stefon] Diggs,” he added with a laugh. “But you know, our guys are the kind of guys we want in here. Guys that are passionate about football, they care about the team, they want to get better, they care about one another, so to me, that’s more important. They have their own swagger … they’re good competitors.”
3. Expecting new plays from Nagy
The Vikings are well-accustomed to facing the division-rival Bears, but this will be the first time Minnesota plays a Chicago squad under the direction of Head Coach Matt Nagy.
Nagy most recently served as the Chiefs offensive coordinator (2016-17), and Zimmer said earlier in his press conference that he sees some similarities of Kansas City’s offense this year in Chicago.
When asked if he’s seen enough of Nagy’s play calling to anticipate what he might see at Soldier Field Sunday night, Zimmer said he knows that he’ll get some new looks – but that’s just the nature of the game.
“Well, we’re going to get new plays. There’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to get new plays,” Zimmer said. “But I mean, they’ve got their core group of plays that they’re going to run. But every week you’re going to get new plays, you’re going to get new formations, you’re going to get new personnel groups. That’s part of the NFL.”
4. Vikings ‘getting healthier’
The Vikings bye week especially was well-timed for players rehabbing injuries. Zimmer was asked if he expects to have a “full arsenal” for Sunday’s game, and he said, “I don’t know yet.”
“I think we’re getting healthier, but I won’t know until later on in the week,” he added.