Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
It's good to get back, I thought practice yesterday, from what I could tell on tape, the guys worked hard, obviously there's some mistakes like always, but it's good to get back and get grinding again.
Q: What have you seen from Tom Johnson this year in his second season in the scheme?
A: Tom [Johnson] is doing well. He's got some slither inside in the pass rush. He's working real hard at being a better run defender and I think he's really come to like how we do things, as far as defensively and how we can help use his ability.
Q: How's the offensive line been doing playing together with the shuffling that has been happening this offseason?
A: Yeah, not too much shuffling, though. I think they've played well in the two games. We've been working like crazy with these guys, especially in the protection part of things. I think Teddy [Bridgewater], he slid one time, he's been on the ground one time on the scramble but I think they've done a nice job of giving him time in the pocket and their technique looks a lot better.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Phil Loadholt?
A: Yeah, we texted each other a little bit.
Q: Can you develop continuity with the offensive line with the changes you've had to make to the unit?
A: Yeah, we'll be fine. We'll be fine. Obviously, we're going to miss Phil [Loadholt], he's a great guy in the locker room, he's good on the field, but I feel good about the things that we're doing with these guys right now and where they're at. I'm very hopeful that they'll continue to keep progressing. I think they're starting to develop some chemistry and starting to develop some confidence.* *
Q: What kind of progress has Danielle Hunter made now that he has some game action?
A: He's doing a good job in the running game. You get in the passing game and he's had some good rushes and he's had some not so good rushes. He's like a lot of young guys that I've had that have some athletic ability that have relied a lot on their athletic ability. There's still some things that we're trying to correct. I did see some improvement in some of the rushes last week, but he's still got a ways to go as far as being consistent with that and understanding. A lot of times, young guys, they come in and if they don't have success right away they try something else and they try something else and they try something else, consequently, they don't get good at one thing. You get good at one thing and then you can progress to the next thing. These are all the things that young guys, not just him, but all young guys have to learn. It's not how much you know, it's how much you can do. That sounded like a good quote, didn't it?
Q: What have you liked out of Eric Kendricks so far? It looked like he had a solid outing against Tampa Bay?
A: How solid was it? Pro Football Focus give him a grade or anything? He's active and productive. I like a lot of the things about him. I like his enthusiasm, his effort, he's got great speed. He made a heck of a play covering the back man-to-man out of the backfield one time, made a tackle. Yeah, I like him and I like the way he's going. We'll find some jobs for him to do.
Q: Do you like what you're seeing from your secondary in general? It looks like you have more numbers and guys that can play in certain situations?
A: I think we have the ability to do that. I don't like everything that we're doing right now. We're undisciplined in some areas that we need to get better at. If we can get some of these little mistakes corrected, I think we have a chance to have a good secondary, yes.
Q: Are you close to settling at the middle linebacker position?
A: Not yet. Not yet. We still have got a lot of time to go before we have to decide.
Q: Was there any concern with the three runs that Doug Martin had in the first half or was there comfort in feeling like after that you kind of snuffed it out?
A: Well, it was a little bit of a concern, because you don't want to start it like that. We had the point of attack taken care of on most of them and they were just cutbacks, we just over-pursued a little bit. I like how we're going with the run defense right now. I think we'll get some of these things cleaned up and go from there. We've tried to give the defensive line a little bit more freedom this year in some of the things that we're doing. Sometimes when they have a little more freedom they create a little bit more space for other guys that have to make it up. It's a fine line right now, but we're working on a lot of these things so that we can try to create a few more plays defensively.
Q: On one of the runs, did you have the point of attack covered and it was designed to force the runner back to Chad Greenway?
A: It was actually a different call that we made, but Chad [Greenway] stayed where he's supposed to be, we forced the ball back to the backside. Some of the times we're trying to force the ball to the perimeter, sometimes we're trying to force the ball back. It just depends on the defense that we're playing at the time.
Q: After watching the game tape and yesterday's practice how do you think the team responded from the sub-par last practice in Mankato?
A: Well, the three fumbles were about the same as Mankato, I thought. We had a couple of silly penalties that we have got to get fixed. We have to stop doing these kind of things if we're going to be a good football team, but I think overall we do what we normally do. We play hard, we play with good technique, for the most part. Obviously, there were some mistakes that were made that we need to fix. I don't know, I continue to say, I said in the press conference afterwards, I have such high expectations of what I want this team to look like that it's important that we get these things corrected to me, because we have a chance to be a good team.
Q: What about this team tells you that you'll be able to manage injuries and adversity?
A: It's not just this team, it's my expectations of whoever I'm coaching, really. But I do think this team has ability. I think we're faster than we were a year ago, I think we're stronger than we were a year ago, I think we're smarter than we were a year ago, although it's not where we want to be yet, but I do think the guys feel more comfortable. All of those things that you do. My expectations are always pretty high and what I want us to look like.
Q: Are there any concerns about Anthony Barr being 100% by the start of the regular season?
A: No. He's feeling good right now, we should get him some reps this week. Will you tweet that one? We'll get him some plays this week.
Q: What have you seen from Brandon Watts now that he's healthy in his second year?
A: Brandon [Watts] has improved quite a bit. He's been much more physical this year than he was a year ago. He was always a good athlete, but now he's much more physical at the point of attack, he's going to take on people much better. Actually, all of our linebackers are doing much better with that. That was one of our emphasis that [LB coach] Adam [Zimmer] has been working with them on in this offseason. All of our guys have improved in that area, but he has shown up quite a bit.
Q: Did you like the number of receivers that made plays the other night?
A: Yeah, and that's really what we're trying to do is spread the ball around as much as possible. In the preseason we're always trying to manipulate how guys get the ball some as well and then coverage obviously dictates some of it too.
Q: How do you evaluate where Anthony Harris is at now?
A: He is still young and learning. I don't think he has totally cut it loose yet but he's doing a good job. I thought he had quite a few snaps the other night.
Q: Why do you feel he is not cutting loose yet?
A: I think he can cut it loose more. Who did I say that about before, Audie [Cole]? He is just kind of making sure instead of just going and letting it loose a little bit more and that's a process of thinking, on the back-end, making checks and making calls, trying not to make mistakes. That's really what that is a process of.
Q: With Josh Robinson currently injured and Jabari Price suspended, are you comfortable about your depth at cornerback?
A: Yes, I am. I like our corners. I think we've got a lot of good corners that have a chance. Josh Thomas has come in and he's shown some things. DeMarcus Van Dyke is a guy, all those guys that we have now are guys that can really run, can really accelerate, we're starting to get some length in there, so all of these guys have a chance. And Van Dyke has played, Thomas, I think he started 10 games or something like that. So, these guys are all guys that have played in the league.
Q: What do you specifically like about Josh Thomas?
A: Quickness, acceleration, speed. He was a good special teams player and I think he's a willing learner for just trying to come in now and trying to get the techniques and the things we're trying to teach.
Q: Carter Bykowski had a shoulder injury. Do you think he will play this week?
A: I don't know yet. Still working on that.
Q: It took you a while to become a head coach in the NFL. Looking back, what does it mean to you that your dad got to see you reach the pinnacle of your career?
A: I hope it's not the pinnacle of my career yet. My dad was very, very proud of me. I know that, he has told me that many times. I think my brother said at the funeral yesterday, one of the lines was that he never bragged about himself, but if the air conditioner repairman was there, within one minute, he was telling him, 'My son is the head coach of the Vikings.'