*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
We cancelled practice today. You know this team works their rear ends off. They work real hard. They study. I like their attention to detail. I like the way they go about their work and I felt like I've seen enough things that I need to see this time of the year and get ready to go down to Mankato housing and get back to work.
Q: Was cancelling the last practice an indication that this was a successful spring for the Vikings?
A: Well if we've been crummy, I wouldn't have cancelled it. I'll tell you that. I mean I don't know. I just like the way this team works. I told them that today that, 'I appreciate the way they go about their business.' They're dedicated to being a good football team and they didn't believe me at first. A bunch of them said, 'Did he say go practice or no practice?' So, they just sat up there for a little while. They weren't sure. They thought it was a joke or a trick, but I felt like I've seen what I needed to see.
Q: These next few weeks are for rest and recreation, are there any plans for you?
A: Yeah. My family and I are going on a little trip and then you know I'll be spending some time down at the ranch and going to Dallas to see my little daughter. Stuff like that. I'll be working, watching the iPad and a little red wine once and awhile.
Q: What's your message to the team when they take off, because you won't see them for the next five weeks?
A: This time of year I expect them to be smart. You know a lot of bad things happen off the field this time of the year and to be smart. I don't want to get any phone calls about anything. That we have a chance to be a good football team if we continue to work. We'll continue to do the things we do, but you know basically that.
Q: What's the big thing you hope to get out of joint practices when you go to Cincinnati?
A: Well one really good thing you know is that we're similar, so it's not like you have to prepare that much especially defensively. You know the one good thing about me is I know their players pretty well and so when our guys are going against their players I think I'll be able to have a good evaluation. There's quite a few of them that are still there that are playing and the evaluation part for me will be big.
Q: Is that something that, had it been another team, you wouldn't have been as eager about?
A: Yeah, probably not. But, you know Marvin and I have a great relationship. We talk a lot. You know the players there I have a lot of respect for and I believe they have respect for me. So, I think that we'll be able to practice the right way. There won't be any issues that way because they know I'll still get after it too.
Q: What will it be like getting back out on the Bengals practice field? Will it feel odd?
A: No, not really. It's 100 yards long just like everyone else.
Q: Have you seen a difference in the offensive line under Tony Sparano this spring despite them not being in pads?
A: Yeah, quite a bit. Have you asked any of the players? It's different – I mean the way they work, the way they do things, everything is different. It's a different mentality and a different work ethic and different techniques as well. So all of that stuff I like, I like it.* *
Q: Did you get any fruit snacks from Laquon Treadwell?
A: No, I didn't. I didn't get any, but he has probably got enough.
Q: How do you evaluate Laquon Treadwell's spring overall?
A: Yes, I think he had a good spring. He has a chance to help us. These next five weeks for him will be big. When he gets back in here, he has to be in shape, he has to be perfecting the routes, things that he has learned in these OTAs. I think he has got a chance to be a good player.
Q: Do you give these guys individual workout programs or things to follow in these next five weeks to make sure that they come into camp ready to go?
A: Yes, we give them the workouts – the running and lifting and things like that – and then they have also met – some of them have – met with me. But all of them met with their position coaches and asked, "Ok, where do you see me now and what do I need to do to get improved so when I come back from camp, I'm ready to go?"
Q: Were you happy that you were able to set the tone that this team will no longer be able to sneak up on anybody next year, based on what you guys did last year?
A: I'd like to sneak up on people, but I don't know. We just try to go out and play really good and do the best we can. We probably shouldn't have won as many games last year, and the pressure wouldn't be on me as much; but it is what it is. Coach [Bud] Grant told me that one time, he said, "Don't win too many too fast."
Q: How do you identify a guy's work ethic? You're always praising this team for how hard they work, and I would imagine it starts in the selection process.
A: Yes, I've said this all along. We have guys that like to work, but they're all good [guys]. The majority of our football team is all really good guys. They care. I was telling one of the coaches, our guys love to practice. When you watch them come out here, they're having fun. They're not all … they're not in the locker room complaining and talking about how bad I am or how mean I am or things like that. They just go work. I'm surprised that they're not sad that we didn't practice today, because they like to practice. This team likes to practice, and I just watch them – compared to other teams or other guys or other players – when they come out here, they compete. I've said this before, the first day I got here, I thought I was going to have to raise a whole bunch of heck, and I didn't have to. They go about their business and work, and I think we have a good group. And I think that credit has to go a lot to Rick [Spielman] with the type of players that he brings in, the type of people that we bring in here. It's important to me that we represent the community and the fans the right way, as well.
Q: With Kyle Rudolph getting into a groove with Teddy Bridgewater late last season, did you see him turn a corner at all from where he had been earlier in the year, when he had to help out with the offensive line a little bit more?
A: I think Kyle does pretty much whatever we ask him to do. He's another great kid. I think Kyle has improved this spring in some of the new things that we're trying to do offensively, and he always works really hard in the passing game. He loves to catch the ball. But he's a great kid. You could probably go down the list of guys, and I don't think I've got anybody I can say, "This guy's not a good guy."
Q: Where have you seen Kyle Rudolph improve this spring?
A: Just overall. He has always caught the ball well. I think he is working a little bit harder on some of this blocking techniques and that stuff, but he practices hard. He looks a little quicker to me, a little more fluid.* *
Q: How much of Cordarrelle Patterson's improvement was due to just you and others talking to him or simply him looking at the reality of the situation last year?
A: Sometimes – and I know everybody gets all upset – but sometimes players understand when they're not playing, that in order to play, they have to do things this way or that way. And if you want to play, this is what you have to do, and sometimes it just takes time to learn it. But this is 10 practices or whatever we had, 11 or 12, something like that, so he's got to go down to Mankato and continue to do the same thing.
Q: How have you seen T.J. Clemmings adjusting from the right side to the left side of the line?
A: I think he's done very well. I think T.J. has a chance to be a good football player. And I'm not too sure the left side is going to be eventually where he plays. We may look at him some more back on the right side. But I think he's improved a lot this spring and he works really hard and he's a heavy-handed guy, can punch good, so those are all good attributes.
Q: Is there a possibility he could work at guard like last year?
A: I doubt it. He will probably be a tackle all the time.
Q: With the linebackers you have mixed and matched, is that a situational opportunity for some guys or do you just want to see what they can do with the first team?
A: No, I have a pretty good feel for what most of them can do. We're always trying to use our players the best way we can. Edmond [Robinson] was in there mostly because [Anthony] Barr was out, so he was in there because that was his position. [Emmanuel] Lamur was in on a lot of the substitution stuff, but there's a lot of water going under the bridge before all of that has to be figured out.
Q: Was there anything that you feel you didn't accomplish as well as you had hoped this spring?
A: We had too many penalties in practice, too man pre-snap penalties, things like that. But I think that part was good. I think the competition between the offense and the defense was good. I think we got a lot of work done with the special teams and I think we're ready to go to Mankato.
Q: Do you expect all of the injured guys that were sitting out this spring to be ready to go in Mankato?
A: I anticipate that, yes. Lots of things happen between now and then, but I think they'll all be pretty close.
Q: Based on what you've seen from Adrian Peterson this spring, do you think we will see him this preseason?
A: I haven't really thought about that yet. I don't know that there's a need. Some of the different runs that we're running, maybe it might be good to get him a couple of reps. But that's probably the good thing about practicing against Cincinnati. I don't have to see him in live things, but I can see him in other situations. But I don't know, I'll have to think about that one.
Q: Will the practices in Cincinnati be padded?
A: The first one is padded and the one the day before the game is shoulder pads.