*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
We had a good little Labor Day practice today. It's a little bit longer week as we get going for Monday night, so we'll start working with San Francisco a lot more tomorrow as we get going, but we're working hard and doing a good job.
Q: With the preseason over, what is still on your mind that you want the team to work on and accomplish? Is it a long list for you?
A: Yeah, it's a long list. Just areas all across the football team. Some of the things we worked on today in practice, just some refresher things that we didn't hit. Without getting too specific, there's some coverage things we've got to fix, there's some things in the run game we've got to fix on offense, things like that.
Q: What is your excitement level to finally see Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater out there together?
A: Well, I think it's good. Adrian [Peterson] made some good cuts today and Teddy [Bridgewater] continues to do a good job, as well. I don't know if it's excitement level, but I think we've improved the football team that way.
Q: Now that it is the regular season, is Adrian Peterson in "regular season form" even though he hasn't played in a year?
A: I'm not sure what you mean by regular season form, but I think he'll be ready to go on Monday night.
Q: How difficult was it going through the linebacker group when you were making the final decisions and cuts?
A: It was hard. It was a good group. All of the guys had some different qualities that we had to look at, some in the nickel, some in the base stuff, some with special teams. It was tough.
Q: What have you seen from Gerald Hodges so far to want to keep him at the middle linebacker spot?
A: Well, he continues to do a good job. I think he's getting more comfortable in there than he was before, as far as his alignments and things like that. He's got some physicality to him, he can run, he's instinctive, so we'll just see where that goes.
Q: Is there a level of concern that John Sullivan still isn't practicing?
A: Not really, not really. He's getting better every day. We might get him out here a little tomorrow. We'll see.
Q: Do you expect him to be ready to play next Monday though?
A: I don't know, we'll see. We'll see how he improves.
Q: What is your confidence level in Joe Berger?
A: He's doing good, he's doing good. These guys all get paid a lot of money to do this, so we expect all these guys when they get in there to go.
Q: What did the organization like about Jeremiah Sirles?
A: He's a guy that played some last year. We watched him throughout the preseason and we just felt like we needed some more people there. We obviously scoured all kinds of rosters throughout this and he was a guy we kind of pinpointed.
Q: Did you expect John Sullivan to be out this long?
A: You never know, but he's getting better every day, so I'm encouraged.
Q: Do you think Zach Line will be available for Monday?
A: When does the injury report come out? Thank you, we'll talk about that.
Q: What impressed you about Taylor Heinicke and you keeping him on the 53-man roster?
A: He got better every week from the first day that he came in here until these preseason games. I think he's got something to him. He gets rid of the ball quick, he makes good decisions, he can use his legs to get out of trouble and he's a smart guy. I think he's a really good competitor.
Q: How do you think having the supporting cast of Adrian Peterson, a healthy Kyle Rudolph, Mike Wallace and others will help Teddy Bridgewater and also the offense in general to finally be at full strength?
A: Well, I hope it is. Just because they're lined up out there doesn't mean they're going to help. We've got to go out and play and perform, everybody has a job to do. If they're all doing their job and they're doing it well, then we have a chance to have a good offense.
Q: Did you push your offensive line in terms of pass protection harder this camp than you did last year?
A: Yes, much, much harder. It was a point of emphasis that we had to get better at and actually, throughout the preaseason, [Matt] Kalil has had a really good preseason. He's blocked his guys all the time. I think he got beat one time on a spin move or something, but for the most part, Matt has really improved. I want him to take it to the game this week, so hopefully he will do that.
Q: Norv Turner said last week you were thin on the offensive line. Is that the biggest concern for this season?
A: I have lots of concerns. I am concerned we can cover the pass the right way, we rush the quarterback the right way, we stop the run on defense. Those situations all come throughout the course of this season and throughout 16 games, there is always going to be some things that don't go as good as you want and you've got to try and fix it and get it better. Our expectation level is the guys that are on the field need to go play. I've been doing this a long, long time and I know that a lot of times when guys get opportunities – a guy like T.J. Clemmings or Eric Kendricks – these guys get in there, we're talking about [Gerald] Hodges, these guys perform and the better they perform, the longer they get to stay. But it happens every year in this league, guys step up and do good, so that's what our expectation is.
Q: There are relatively inexperienced guys on the right side of the line. Does that do anything for the center position as far as having to adjust calls?
A: Joe [Berger] is a really smart guy and he helps with a lot of this. [Brandon] Fusco is smart too – don't tell him I said that, but those guys can help that other side and they're communicating. T.J. is really into it as far as the things that he has to do and [Mike] Harris has played long enough, it's just a different spot for him. So I'm not concerned.
Q: Do you anticipate using all four of your tight ends on a regular basis?
A: It's kind of a week-to-week proposition, who we decide to use them. They all have some different qualities, that's kind of how we felt.
Q: How much does Marcus Sherels always making the 53-man roster come down to trust in him and his ability to field punts?
A: It was good until last week. He's a guy that when he gets opportunities, he keeps making plays. Returning, he's the best gunner we have, he's returned really well, he can kickoff return if we need him. We've had him playing in the nickel some this year. He's a guy that has a lot of value because of all of the things he can do. It's a nice story for a guy like him, like you say, everybody is trying to get him cut before the season, and he just keeps finding a way.
Q: Have you pegged down what you want Trae Waynes' role to be this week?
A: I have a pretty good idea what it will be, yeah.
Q: In your experience is it more different now for rookie cornerbacks to make an immediate impact compared to in the past with a guy like Terence Newman and the rule changes that have happened recently?
A: I really think it's a little bit of the guy coming in, the progression that they have to go through. You could probably say the same thing about a linebacker or defensive lineman, a lot of it is just the individual and how fast he figures it out.
Q: What do you like about Zach Moore?
A: He's a big guy that ended up playing some games last year. We're always looking for big guys. Today was the first day we got a chance to look at him, I think he's got some position flexibility that we can use him in. We'll keep looking.
Q: Is it easier to get information on the local guys that you have been able to bring in recently?
A: I don't think it's so much that, I think we get plenty of info on everybody. I just think some of the local guys, if they have a choice between a couple of different teams, they'd prefer to come home.
Q: Is Gerald Hodges definitively your starting middle linebacker next Monday?
A: I don't know yet.