*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
Q: What did you change this year based on the fact that last year you thought you had your team ready for the opener, and they didn't play very well against San Francisco? Do you change anything at all in the preseason based on that?
A: Yeah, we're going to change up some things next week when we start getting ready for Tennessee, different than what we did a year ago. It's a different week, too. We had the Thursday game, and then we played on Monday night. This year, it's a Thursday, Sunday. So, there are some things we're going to change.
Q: Whatever issues that Adrian Peterson might have with running out of the shotgun, with the shotgun handoffs, how much of that, when you looked back at the season, was the offensive line not keeping him clean and him getting hit in the backfield? Did that play a role?
A: It's a little bit of his style. His style is to get the ball and go fast, and sometimes in the gun, you have to be a little bit more patient. You have to be a little bit more rounded. You've got to get your shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. So, it's some of that. He's better behind the quarterback than he is in the gun, I would guess, but he has been working hard at it.
Q: With an improved line, keeping people off him in the backfield would help with that patience, I would think?
A: Yeah, sometimes that play develops a little bit slower than some of the hardball runs. So, when they're double-teaming guys, they stay on, stay on, stay on, and the cut might happen a little bit later than typically you see it coming downhill.* *
Q: Is the pistol formation a compromise at all with that, to have Teddy Bridgewater out from behind center and Adrian still behind the quarterback?
A: Yeah, a little bit. We've done some of that. There are plusses and minuses to everything. Sometimes in the gun, like I said, some of the plays a little slower developing. In the pistol, some of the protections become a little bit of an issue. Each one has its own little thing. We're trying to figure out the best way to handle the combination of all and still be able to be diverse.
Q: Cordarrelle Patterson says the No. 1 thing he has learned over the past couple years has been mental. As a coach, what do you think his biggest improvements have been over the past couple years?
A: The overcoming thing is all about him. I just think he understands that he has to be more disciplined. He has to be trustworthy to the receivers, to the quarterbacks and to everybody else. Sometimes when it comes easy when you're young, then you maybe take some of these things for granted. I think he has done a much better job of being disciplined, working hard, those kind of things.
Q: What have you seen from Shamar Stephen this offseason?
A: He has helped us a lot, as far as we missed him a bunch last year. He's big. He's strong at the point of attack. I think he continues to work to be a better pass rusher. His strength is obviously in the running game, but the more that he can develop as a pass rusher, which he's starting to do better, that helps his overall game.
Q: Is that improvement in the pass rush maybe why he's getting some looks at the three-technique along with nose tackle?
A: Yeah, some of it. In the preseason, like we are now, some if it is trying to - Last year, we probably played Tom Johnson too many plays in the preseason. So, we're trying to take some plays off of him. Sharrif (Floyd) was out, so we got him in there for more first and second down situations, but the more that he plays, the more that he develops his pass-rushing ability, as well.
Q: What sort of progress have you seen from Mackensie Alexander?
A: A lot, especially from where he was. He has still got a long ways to go, but he has got great quickness. He has got great confidence. He has got great competitiveness. He's very, very quick, and he wants to challenge receivers. Those are things I've seen a lot these last 10 days or something. I think his technique is getting better. He's playing a couple different spots, but he's used to it. The right side, left side doesn't bother him. Like all college guys, there a little bit grabby, and he has got to continue to work on that.
Q: Have you moved him a little bit more outside to simplify things and see what he can do?
A: No, it wasn't that. We were playing him a lot at nickel early and I wanted to see him at corner. So we probably played him a little bit more at corner just because to get more looks at him that way.
Q: Do you view this as a good opportunity for him with Xavier Rhoades out?
A: Yeah, he should get a lot of plays in the game.
Q: Has Everson Griffen emerged as the leader of the defensive line?
A: Yeah, you know he obviously was a captain last year and the team voted for him. I think they respect the way he works, the way he studies, the way he wants to be great. He's not a guy that's afraid to voice his opinion or his leadership skills. I think last year was a little new to him. I called him in and talked to him about being a captain. I think at first he tried to be the image of a captain and just not the image of himself. I think he felt better after we had that talk to just be himself and do what he keeps doing and people will respect him.
Q: How well has Alex Boone picked up in the classroom in terms of what you and Tony Sparano want from him?
A: Good. You know he probably had a little bit of an advantage because a lot of the things Tony brought from San Francisco he was with it, but there's always new things. He doesn't make mental errors, so he's done a good job.
Q: Does he bring that talkative nature into the classroom and in all facets of the team?
A: Yeah, he's kind of the alpha dog in that room.
Q: Is Michael Griffin a good example for some of those younger defensive backs, in terms of his toughness and what he brings to the table?
A: Yeah, I think so. Mike is a good pro. Here's a guy who's played for a number of years in a different system and has come in and learned our system. I think it's been good for him to learn a different way to do it. You know we're asking him to do a lot of things he's never done before. So I think for young guys to see that because you never know they might go to another team or heck they might fire me or we might get to a different system or something like that. You got to be able to adapt. I think that's good for those guys to see.
Q: How has he adapted this summer?
A: Good. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago about some of things I need to see from him and you know he's really picked it up from that time.
Q: What are some of the signs that Boone has brought toughness to the team?
A: Well, his play mostly. He's physical especially on the double teams, pulls and things like that. He's physical and obviously his size helps that. You know he's boisterous anyways, so it doesn't hurt because he backs it up most of the time.
Q: Do you think one guy can change a mood?
A: I don't know. I think it's a combination of things. I think it helps. I think Tony's a little different. He's going to be aggressive with them. That's a combination of things probably.
Q: What are your goals for tomorrow's practice at U.S. Bank Stadium?
A: It's going to be a typical Friday practice for us, so we're going to go through and do all the things we normally do on Friday. Really what I wanted to do was take them down, show them where they park, how they get to the locker room, how they come out of the tunnel. We'll have the video boards going, so that stuff is not new to them. We'll try to figure out what the doors are like cause I haven't been there when all the doors are open. See if that's got any effect on anything. That's pretty much it, just give them a basic rundown of how to get to the stadium, how to get to the locker room, how to get to the field. And then a little bit for the surface, I know it's the same turf as most places, but it'll be new so it'll probably be a little bit slippery, I'm guessing.
Q: What have you seen from Trae Waynes in his development this season?
A: Usually when corners are struggling I'm talking to them a lot, correcting them a lot. I haven't done that with Trae in quite a while really. So he's improved a lot. I think he's becoming more aggressive towards the ball, aggressive towards the receiver. I think he's starting to get the mentality that we're trying to preach in the back end with the things that we do. Obviously he's a talented guy and you just got to get the talent in the right place and the right demeanor. I think that's kind of where he's been.
Q: What were your expectations for Taylor Heinicke before his injury?
A: Compete, compete for the backup job.
Q: Compete for the backup job?
A: I mean I would say the same thing about Shaun (Hill), come in and compete for the backup job, or (Joel) Stave.
Q: What is the timetable for his return?
A: I honestly don't know. He just got out of the boot and he had surgery. He's probably six to eight weeks, I don't know. I mean you never know really how guys respond.