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Transcript: Zimmer Addressed the Media Saturday

Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Good morning. It will be good to get out in the lights tonight. We got a few live plays but not too many. Yesterday was a good practice I thought. We're improving in the right way.

Q: With Buffalo coming up, is there a time frame where you want to solidify a depth chart?

A: Not so much by Buffalo. The good thing is that we keep 75 until the fourth preseason game this year. I think a lot of them won't be determined until that final game is over. There is still a possibility of guys moving up or back based on what they do in that last game.

Q: How does that change your approach with the difference of not having that cut down of 75 and having it all at once?

A: We will probably play some other guys in the fourth preseason game that we haven't played before.

Q: Is there anything more you're looking to see specifically from the quarterbacks tonight?

A: Not so much for Sam (Bradford), but for the other guys making the right decisions, taking care of the football. I would anticipate Taylor (Heinicke) running a little bit more because that's what he does, but hopefully standing there and making correct throws.

Q: Have you been urging Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke to take more shots down-the-field?

A: What I try to do is talk to them about scenarios in the game where we make the right decisions, whatever it is. I've done it with Sam quite a few times. I think one of them was we were trying to get a chuck down the field and I talked to him about maybe moving outside of the pocket some so he can buy a little bit more time for those guys to get down. I think there was one time where we threw the ball late in the middle, kind of a scramble and I mentioned we don't want to do that. Things like that.

Q: How valuable is it to have a coach like Kevin Stefanski that has experience not only with quarterbacks, but a number of position groups?

A: I think we are very fortunate to have Kevin [Stefanski]. Number one, he's got a good feeling with all of the positions groups, and not only with the quarterbacks, but also with protections, getting them going the right way, and then having Pat [Shurmur] there as well to be able to talk to them, but Kevin is a very smart guy and very knowledgeable about the game and quarterbacks

Q: Is coaching versatility rare in today's game?

A: I don't know if it's rare. I think a coach is a coach, and then they get moved to a different position, they learn the intricacies of that position, and they take it from there. They go talk to other people. I know I was a coach that coached other positions as well. 

Q: When you were hired and Kevin Stefanski was already a part of the coaching staff, what did you hear from him that gave you a good enough impression to keep him around?

A: Well not so much from him, but I knew he's a good a person. That's important to me having good quality people here, but also, things you hear from other people around the league and maybe even guys who were on the staff prior talked about what a great worker, how he's prepared every single day, he's knowledgeable. You know, those things.

Q: How much special teams activity will you have tonight having two punters and two kickers here at camp?

A: They will split a little bit of time tonight, both of them. This is really a long process. It will be good to see them when we get the lights on, but again, these preseason games are going to be important as well. We play some pretty good people in those games, so it will be good.

Q: Do you think the preseason games will be the main part of the evaluation with both the kickers and the punters?

A: I think so. When the lights come on. Tonight will be a big part of it. When the lights come on, how will they handle themselves? When they're out there by themselves and they have crowd watching them.

Q: What have you seen from Anthony Barr so far this season?

A: He's been tremendous. I look for him to have a big year. I am constantly trying to figure out ways to use him more and more and more. His effort has been outstanding, he's very conscientious about making sure he runs to the football all of the time. He's working very hard on getting off the blocks, just working very hard on his coverage and his pressures. He's had a phenomenal, really he has had a phenomenal spring and camp so far.

Q: It seems like he's been ready to go as soon as he came back.

A: Adam (Zimmer) grades him every day on not only on his plays, but his efforts, like he does with all of the guys, but he has got it really good.

Q: What has Stephen Weatherly added to his game from year one to year two?

A: He's still learning. Sometimes these young guys especially at defensive end they tend to think way too much. Stephen is a guy with a lot of athletic ability. He needs to be more reactionary than thinking all of the time. If he would get off the ball and run off the ball plus react to everything that comes off it because he's gained strength, he's gained size, I think that'd bode better for him in the future. Sometimes these guys want to sit and say, "If this guy goes inside, then do this." But, at that spot if you're low coming off the ball and you attack the guy in front of you, typically good things happen. That's kind of what he's got to work on. To answer your question, he's added some strength and bulk. He's bigger now and he's stronger.

Q: Do you think Anthony Barr took your comments about his play last year to heart? And have you ever talked to him directly about that?

A: I've talked to him directly about a lot of things, but no.

Q: How much attention have you paid to the punting position battle specifically beyond the straight distance that you're looking for?

A: The hang time is really important. We've had some long punts with some distance, but those are not good. You punt the ball from your own 30 (yard-line) and it gets into the end zone, that's not a good punt. So, those are the things that we're looking at. It's really about consistency. Is he going to get the ball off in the proper amount of time? Is he going to get the ball off to the proper distance? And is the hang time going to be good? And can he kick directionally? All those things factor into it.

Q: Does anybody have the upper hand in that battle?

A: I don't know yet. I could throw one out there, but it can change so fast when we get out into these games. You don't want guys to spit the bits in lights when it comes out. You look great in practice then get in a game and slide. I'd prefer to wait until we're staring at some of these live situations because that's when we're going to have a real rush coming at him. Some of the conditions in Buffalo might be windy, who knows.

Q: How important is that position especially here when you're teaching a lot of situational stuff?

A: It's very important. Special teams we have to do a better job. We gave up too many returns last year. We had some returns, so we've got to continue to be really good on our return game because that helped us win some football games and consequently we've got to get a lot better on the coverage part aspects. So, we're really looking at, not only talking about the punters and the kickers but preferably you like guys who play defense that can run down there, get in position, and make tackles.

Q: Looking back at the end of the season, where do you feel like the team has improved both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball?

A: Well, the biggest thing offensively I think the coaches have done a nice job in trying to implement things to take advantage of the skill set of the players that we have now. Taking advantage of (Stefon) Diggs, taking advantage of (Kyle) Rudolph, and some of the things they do. Working real hard with (Latavius) Murray at least playbook wise with Murray and then again with (Dalvin) Cook. Understanding what Sam (Bradford) can do as far as some of the communication things, checks on the line of scrimmage, checking from a bad play to a good play, seeing the different types of pressures and being able to change protections. I really like what we're doing protection wise, Pat (Elflein) has really mixed it up well, that makes it difficult on defense. And defensively, what we're trying to do is add some more wrinkles where we can again try to use our players to the best of their ability with it.

Q: Is Sam Bradford going to have more freedom at the night scrimmage?

A: He's going to have some freedom at the night scrimmage, yes. I don't know about how much more as we get into the game plan, but he's done an awful lot of checking out there so far based on the looks that he sees, protections, pass game, run to pass, pass to run, I think he's done a really nice job with that.

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