*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
Q: How it important it was to get S Harrison Smith deal done?
A: "I figured it would get done. I don't think that Harrison is the kind of the guy that really cares that much about money. I think he loves playing football and loves being out here and working and things like that. So, I figured it would get done eventually."
Q: What does Smith means to the defense?
A: "Well he's a leader by example. He plays real hard. He's tough. He's smart. You know he's like a lot of our guys."
Q: What are the differences between in mini-camp and OTAs in regards to what the team does?
A: "Well we're going to really do the same thing. I mean you actually keep them longer and have a training camp like practice. Where we are going to do just what we're doing now."
Q: What have you seen from QB Teddy Bridgewater?
A: "You know yesterday he had a really good day. He threw the ball really really well and I thought he threw the ball well today too. You know he just seems to be cutting it loose a little bit more. You know he sees it and he lets it go. He's shown some really nice deep balls. He seems like he's I guess matured and he's more comfortable in everything that he does."
Q: Has that maturity has come on or off the field?
A: "No. In the offense, yeah. I don't see him much around the guys."
Q: What is competition at the other safety spot opposite to Smith?
A: "Yeah. Well it's still a work in progress. We're trying to look at all the different guys. You know (S Michael) Griffin is still learning. I like some of the things that (S Jayron) Kearse is doing. You know (S Antone) Exum (Jr.) is athletic. Anthony Harris very seldom makes mistakes and (S Andrew) Sendejo is solid like he usually is. So, we just have to keep going. One thing I try not to do especially in OTAs where we're not in pads is try to jump to some kind of conclusion of who should be the starter. I'll kind of let that play out in camp."
Q: Should the media not jump to conclusions?
A: "That's what you guys get paid to do, is jump to conclusions."
Q: What have you seen from rookie QB Joel Stave?
A: "Well he actually throws the ball really well. You know he's got some things mechanically he has to work on as most young guys. But, it's really the speed of getting the ball out, the speed of knowing where to go. You know all those factors you know are harder for a really young guy like all young guys. But, he's done a good job. He's working. He's throwing the ball nice. So, he's just got to continue to do that and the same thing at that quarterback spot. You know we've got those four guys there and really it's going to come down to training camp, preseason games and stuff like that."
Q: What you've seen from rookie WR Laquon Treadwell?
A: "You know he had three really good days. I don't know if today was his best day, but he's had three really good days. He's got really good acceleration. He's fast off the line. He runs good routes. He catches the ball good and he's got a good feel on how to run the routes."
Q: What progression have you seen from Treadwell?
A: "Well you try to push them as fast as you can, but I mean every guy not just receivers or not just first round guys. He's got a lot of football instincts. It's just how fast can you lineup here and run this route against this coverage. But, he's been catching the ball good. You know today he had a couple of flinches and that can't happen, so he's got to correct that."
Q: Are you concerned about LB Anthony Barr about missing time in OTAs?
Q: Is Barr still dealing with same injury from a couple of weeks ago?
A: "It's the same thing, but the first injury report comes up September 3rd or something like that. So, that's when I'll give them."
Q: What are your expectations for Trae Waynes this season?
A: "Well you know he's progressed. Here's what I told somebody earlier today, 'last year was more about learning what to do. Now it's having a feel for the game and playing. Understanding the tightness that he has to be in to cover. It's time to continue to push him into making more plays on the ball and that's what I'm trying to get him to do. My expectation is to get him to be more aggressive in the coverage because he knows what to do now. Now it's time to go be aggressive and you know the one thing about him and Xaiver (Rhodes) here is we can bump-and-run here and we can press, which is probably Trae's strength. So, like Xaiver his strength was always bump-and-run. This is the first spring where I feel like he's really improved off-coverage and so it's a little bit like that with Trae. I think when he gets in there and starts playing more bump-and-run and things like that he'll show better. It just takes a little while in off-coverage because there's air in the coverage, which makes it a little bit more difficult for the defenders. Consequently, for guys like Treadwell, we were talking about him a minute ago, haven't seen him against press. I'm pushing them to be better in off-coverage. I guess that's my best answer, long winded."
Q: Is DE Everson Griffen is a finished product now?
A: "Well I'll tell you I don't anyone is ever a finished product. He works extremely hard every single day. He continues to get better every day. You know some of the things he can do on the practice field because of his athletic ability is determination in the way he works. It really is special. I think he's very very talented and continues to improve. As long as he keeps working the way he does, I think there's more there to get to him."
Q: Why WR Charles Johnson was receiving first team reps today?
A: "Yeah, he's actually done good. You know he's smooth. He runs good routes. He catches the ball good. I think Teddy and him have a good rapport and you know same thing. We'll just let all of these guys fight it out in camp."
Q: If his limited playing time year was due to him battling through injuries?
A: "Well a little bit. You know (WR Stefon) Diggs came on pretty good and that kind of set him back a little bit."
Q: Did G Alex Boone do any work today?
A: "No. He didn't do any work today."
Vikings Safety Harrison Smith
I just want to say, first of all, thank you to the owners, to the Wilf Family, Zygi and Mark, for letting me be a part of their organization. Rick Spielman, Rob Brzezinski for really taking care of me since I stepped in the building. Zim [Coach Zimmer], obviously being able to play for a guy like him, especially on a defense that he is so involved with. Every coach that I've really ever had. My current coaches, Coach [Jerry] Gray, Coach [George] Edwards, Jonathan Gannon. I can't say enough about how fortunate I was to be drafted here and be able to stay here. Really, this, to me, is motivating. Something that I want to use going forward. I was just saying, Rick took me at the end of the first round in 2012 and at the time, that might have been a bit of a reach, what people thought and I always use that, I always wanted to make him right and I think I'll look at this the same way going forward. I also want to say thank you to the fans, the entire Skol Nation, the city of Minneapolis, my family, my agent, there's too many people to thank. I'm just glad to be a part of this organization and be here for the future.
Q: What did it feel like to sit down yesterday and sign that contract?
A: It felt great, like I said, knowing that they want me here, they want me to part of this team, this organization, be in this building working with this group of guys. There's too many good players, good guys, good coaches, I would have been very disappointed to not stick around for things that we have the potential to do.
Q: When did you know that you could play in the NFL?
A: I think in my mind, I thought when I was a rookie. I don't know if I was right or not. I think you have to have some level of confidence whether you're kind of ignorant or whatnot to what you actually are. I think having that confidence at least allows you to go compete at a high level and know that you can make plays. I think I always had that and I've just tried to get better from that point.
Q: Was it important you got paid like a top safety in the league?
A: Yeah, I mean, you always want to be recognized at one of the top guys at your position. I think if you're a competitor you always see yourself like that. There's a lot of mutual respect between myself and the organization, I think that just reflects that.
Q: How does it make you feel when guys like Brian Robison say that they're happy and relieved that you signed your extension?
A: Especially guys like B-Rob [Brian Robison], Chad [Greenway], Everson [Griffen], Captain [Munnerlyn], everybody. Some of those guys are like older brothers, younger brothers, it feels great knowing that obviously they want me here, too. That's part of the reason why I'm so happy to stay here, is that we have so many of those guys, that's what our team is made up of. You just want to be around each other, you want to go make plays for each other, you want to be in the right spot so the other guy can make the play. That's a big part of it.
Q: Would you describe what it's like going from a rookie to a go-to leader?
A: I think that's something that really comes with the experience, the plays that you make, doing things right on and off the field. You can't just walk in and be a good player and not really care about anybody else in the building, stuff like that. When you start building relationships, guys have a lot of trust in you, you have a lot of trust in them. I think that's something that should naturally occur.
Q: Do you feel like your defensive group is one that can be together for a while?
A: That's kind of what I think we all have in mind. I'm obviously not a cap expert or the GM, so I'm obviously happy to be a part of it and the potential that we have, there's still a lot that we have to do, we can't just show up and be a good team, we have to come out here every day and work. That's kind of part of the deal and something I also look forward to.
Q: If healthy, do you think this defense is a cut above the ones you've played on so far.
A: I don't want to say that already, I know Zim wouldn't like that, but that's the mindset we have, we want to be that. So that's what we're working towards right now and like I said, we have a lot of guys that want to be up there.
Q: When you look at Denver and Seattle being able to win games with its defense, is that what you ultimately envision?
A: I wouldn't say we see them as a role model, we see ourselves as a good defense and we want to be one of the best. We also have a lot of confidence in our offense, in Teddy [Bridgewater], in our offensive line, in Adrian, in our receivers, in our tight ends, everybody. We want to have a full team, special teams as well. That's how you win, because you're not always going to have your best game. Sometimes the offense might have to pull it out, sometimes we do, sometimes special teams, that's what we're building here.
Q: Did you want to get this deal done before reporting to training camp?
A: I wasn't actively pushing for that. I definitely wanted that. I think, just knock it out of the way, focus on football. There's less moving parts, less things that can be a distraction when it comes time to play for real. I'm happy that it's done right now and we can kind of knock this stuff out and move on to the game.* *
Q: As the contract talks occurred did you want to know the details as they were happening or did you trust your agent?
A: I'm a professional football player, I'm not an agent or a GM. Obviously, I want to know what's going on, but I wasn't in there heavily involved, I was just getting updates. Like I said, every now and then I would get a question about what was going on with the talks. Like I said, there was a lot of mutual respect, the negotiations are going to happen. I was focused on football and there for the finished product.
Q: Is it important to have a partner next to you at safety that's there consistently for several years?
A: That's not really up to me. I think what's really important for me, is playing on a defense of guys that want to go make plays and want to do their job, and that's what we have. It doesn't matter who's in the game. That's just how our team is built. I'm very fortunate to be a part of, not only a defense but an entire team like that.
Q: How have the other safeties been looking?
A: I was just talking about everybody. Everybody is making plays, everybody is doing a lot of good things. I think we're all working together well. We're learning from each other, we've just got to keep building on that.
Q: With the highs and lows of being hurt last year, have you had a chance to look back and appreciate this more?
A: I'm sure I will in time. I think part of that is, it just kind of all rolls together. I think I generally do better when I keep going to the next day and not reminiscing too much. That's definitely true, that's a good point. That's how it is for all football players from when they start playing to when they finish; there's going to be a lot of highs and lows and I think how you deal with those things can help you or hurt you. You've just got to go to the next day.
Q: What are some of the things this coaching staff has taught you to help you get to the next level as a player?
A: There's so many guys to learn from on this staff from the head man all of the way down. Just things like getting aligned in the perfect spot, taking the right step, especially as a defensive back, tackling well, knowing where to fit, understanding offenses better, understanding the entire game of football better is something Coach Zim really focuses on this time of the year. There's so much to learn from everybody and I try and take a piece wherever I can.
Q: When it came to negotiating, was it something you trusted your agent to do and what is it about working with your agent that you've liked him?
A: First and foremost, he's a Notre Dame guy, so we've kind of had that connection. A few of the guys I played with in college signed with him as well. Just a very genuine person. We had that connection outside of business. He's a bright guy, he's got a proven track record, does things the right way. There's a lot of horror stories with fighting and agents and teams and that's something I don't want. I want things to be fair for both sides and I think that's something he's always done a good job of.
Q: How have you accepted the leadership role that comes with a second contract?
A: I'm not overly loud, I'm not going to stand up and give a bunch of speeches. I think I'm a guy that always shows up and tries to do things the right way, obviously, not going to make every play or get everything right, but I'm going to try to. I'm going to get better the next day, I'm going to learn from it. I think guys respect that. They've seen enough of me at this point of my career that they can trust me. Guys can ask me questions about anything and they know I'll be there for them. I think that naturally has kind of built upon itself.