We’re going to move practice back until 2:00. The rain should be out of here around 1:45. Hopefully, that does a little bit better.
Q: Did anybody stand out to you on Saturday night?
A: There was some good and bad. I thought the receivers caught the ball well. There are some areas that I thought we did good in, some that we need to do better. Overall, I thought it was good practice.
Q: Are you able to give us any update on Kyle Rudolph?
A: He’s just got a minor little thing. He will be fine.
Q: How have the young receivers stepped up since last weekend?
A: Olabisi [Johnson] is doing well. He’s playing a multiple number of spots, catches the ball well, gets in the right place most of the time. Dillon Mitchell is a very, very talented guy that needs to continue to work. He’s got a lot of habits in some of his routes that he’s running that he’s working on trying to get better. He made a nice catch the other night, the route that he caught that ball on was a really good route. [Alexander] Hollins is a guy that can really run, so they’re trying to work themselves out. It’s going to be a while before we figure that spot out, I think.
Q: Your new cornerback, Bené Benwikere, what was the thought process on signing him and how has he looked in the brief time you’ve seen him?
A: Well, he’s only been here one day. He didn’t even have his name of the back of his jersey yet, that tells you how long I’ve seen him. He’s a guy that has had lots of starts with a lot of different teams and we need depth at corner.
Q: You talked about not being happy with the intensity of defense, is it up to the leaders of the defense to set the stage there?
A: No, they’ve done better since we had a little chat. They’ve done a lot better. They’re on the right track, we just got to continue going. Understanding we got to go out every day and compete and perform and try and get better each and every day. I have a vision of what this defense is supposed to look like and I have very high standards for the defense. I expect them to live up to my expectations, so I’m going to keep pushing them until we get there.
Q: Are those expectations that they will be better than they were two years ago?
A: My expectation is to be the best they can possibly be, whatever that is.
Q: Kyle was talking about getting a ‘vet day’ and some of the practices have been shorter to take care of guys a little bit, has that been a conscious effort on your part?
A: Technically, none of them have been shorter. We go through at a pretty fast pace, but it’s the same number of plays that we’ve had throughout since I’ve been here. Early we had a couple of walk-thrus because I was trying to get them acclimated to football, so we wouldn’t get pulls and stuff like that, soft tissue injuries. We’ve been doing a little split-field work where we work on cards, which is different than what we’ve done, which is probably a little lower tempo. It’s to work on things the offense needs or work on things the defense needs more so than taking care of them. The other part is, we’ve got some guys that are 30 years old now and for them to go banging each and every day probably isn’t a smart thing.
Q: What have your impressions been of Rico (Rick) Denison and his ability to teach the blocking scheme?
A: The offensive line, especially in the running game is doing very well. I think Rick (Dennison), I didn’t know you called him Rico too, you’re allowed to call him whatever you want, I guess. I usually call him Rick. He’s a good teacher, he works them hard, he’s got a good way about him. He’s positive but demanding. I think all those guys are taking well to him, to the teaching. I think we’ve got a good tight-knit group in there that work together and prove that they want to be good.
Q: Is tight end as tough of a position to acclimate to as offensive line for these rookies to acclimate to?
A: Yeah, probably, maybe more so. (Tyler) Conklin played outside a lot at college, Irv (Smith Jr.) played in the backfield a little bit and played on the line some. A lot of times that is completely foreign to these tight ends that come in the league because basically, they were big receivers in college. The blocking is different, getting a release from a guy that’s standing over them, that’s different. There’s a lot of things, and then the movement things they ask them to do.
Q: Have those receivers done a better job of knowing their assignments since you mentioned that?
A: Yeah, they have. They’re lining up a lot better. Very seldom now are you seeing them run from one side to the other. They’re getting extra work in mentally and then getting some extra work in meeting time to make sure they lineup and know what they’re doing. It is tough for young guys to come in and learn the verbiage, learn the formations, learn the correct alignments in every one of the formations, because there’s a ton of formations, and then knowing what to do and being at the proper depth, that’s what the quarterbacks want, somebody they can be consistent with.
Q: Do you know yet how many receivers versus tight ends that you’ll keep?
A: It will go down to the last part. Rick (Spielman) and I sit down and we talk about maybe keeping five tight ends, six backs, or whatever it is. It always changes but we talk about it and kind of see where we are. I have had a lot of questions lately about the last preseason game, but I have seen several guys make the team that you didn’t think were going to make the team because of how they played in the last preseason game. Injuries happen, a lot of different things can happen.
Q: Does age, with players like Linval Joseph and Kyle Rudolph, effect preseason plans?
A: I haven’t thought too much about those things much honestly, I just started thinking today how much playing time they are going to get on Friday. We will be smart with them, as we get moving forward.
Q: How do you weigh that?
A: For the offense for instance; it is them working together, getting out there where the coaches aren’t around and going out and communicating and doing those things. More so than Kyle (Rudolph) individually needs work, it is more about the cohesiveness of the unit.
Q: How much has it helped Mackensie Alexander development and progress to have almost every rep in the first team?
A: If you asked me who has turned the corner as far as going in full boat, as far as coaching and believing in the system and all that, I think Mackensie would be the number one guy from where he started, which was not the best. He has done a great job now; he takes extra reps and I see him coaching the young guys. It is way different and I am proud of him.
Q: What would you say to 2016 Mike Zimmer if you said Mackensie was coaching the younger guys?
A: Probably, no way. We had a lot of conversations when he was younger and I kind of told him there were two paths to take. He decided to take the other one.
Q: With the offensive line does the numbers game, just the depth at tackle concern you? With the injury from Aviante Collins the other day and Rashod Hill being the only one left with experience.
A: Yeah a little bit. We like Oli (Udoh); we think he has got a chance to develop into something pretty special. We are always going to be looking on the wire, we’re going to be looking everywhere. Like Coach [Bill] Parcells used to say, guys shouldn’t be counting how many receivers we got, because we are looking at the Canadian league, the AFL, and all the other teams in the league. People are going to get cut and we are going to try and figure out who the best guys are to pick up at that time.
Q: Do you anticipate Aviante Collins returning anytime soon?
A: I anticipate him returning, yes.
Q: What have you seen out of Sean Mannion? Has his experience helped him separate himself from the pack?
A: I don’t know if it separated him from the pack or not, but he has done a nice job. Obviously the experience has helped quite a bit. He has a big strong arm. He is good in the quarterback room and he does a really nice job of helping these other guys out. He has been doing a good job.
Q: How does the focus and intensity level change in the normal schedule now that you are preparing for a game this week?
A: No, not really, because we won’t get too in depth with New Orleans. We still got some install to do and we are trying to perfect our techniques, hand placements, steps and all the other areas we want to continue to get better at. We won’t spend a whole bunch of time on New Orleans, we will spend a little bit of time. Sometimes it fun to just go out and play and not worry too much about the opponent. Just line up and go play football.
Q: What’s it going to be like to see so many previous Vikings players you coached that currently play for New Orleans?
A: It will be good to see him. I love all those guys that are down there; Nick (Easton), Latavius (Murray), and Teddy (Bridgewater). I love all those guys. They were great Vikings for us, and they are good players. Hope they are not good Friday night, but either way.
Q: What will it be like playing against Teddy Bridgewater for the first time?
A: We are going to try and hit him just like we do every other quarterback.
Q: You didn’t bring in another team this year, what was the thought process behind that?
A: I thought about it, and I had one team call me. I thought about doing it with them but sometimes it is just good to get in and get with your own guys, try to become a team, try to build unity and chemistry. Just work at our tempo and our pace and not worry about having to cater to them, I guess. Depending on the teams, I might do it. If it is in Cincinnati cause my ranch is there, no other reason.