Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good morning. Yesterday's practice, when I was out there, I thought the tempo wasn't good and didn't think we were doing things very well, but after watching all the tape last night, I thought it was pretty good, actually. Sometimes you get those feelings when you're out on the field and then you review the tapes and it looks better. We're working extremely hard with our offensive and defensive line. We're trying to continue to get these guys working on the techniques and get better. It's completely different the way you're doing things when you're in shorts for all that time and you get in pads and now it's kind of like what I was talking about with the corners the other day. We're working real hard to get that corrected. We're going to get a bunch more tonight. We'll get some redzone, some two minute tonight and some redzone blitz. I think there will probably a lot fans here so we'll be excited about that, hopefully we'll go out and perform.
Q: Will there be live tackling tonight?
A: No. We're going to get that next Sunday when we go to Canton.
Q: What have you seen from Edmond Robinson and what kind of role do you see him in?
A: I'm not sure yet. He looks like the kind of linebackers I like, he's big and physical and runs like crazy. He's playing a completely different spot than what he did in college. He shows a lot of flashes in being able to be the kind of linebacker that we'd like to have here. I'm hopeful for him, we'll just have to see how it goes in the preseason, when we get in there and the lights come on. Things like tonight are great for these young guys, because now they're under the lights, there's bigger crowds out there. They might spit the bit or they might get out of the gates and run.
Q: Do you think that helps performance at all when playing under the lights, do you think they play better?
A: I don't know if they will play better but it's just a different feeling. It's more game like, it's more realistic in what they're going to see. Some of these guys their first preseason game, when we go to Canton in the Hall of Fame game, their eyes are probably going to be that big. Some of these rookies that haven't experienced professional football and they all think about wow this is my first professional football game and I got to win a job and all that. I think their emotions will be a lot higher tonight, but it should be fun. I am excited about it.
Q: Are you looking at David Yankey in different spots along the offensive line?
A: I told Jeff Davidson to start moving these guys around a little bit. I am trying to get it settled and like when we do some of the 1-on-1 drills and things like that. We're trying to get a quick glimpse of what they might look like in some pass rush situations in some other spots. You'll probably continue to see some more of that a little bit.
Q: Is there a timeline when you want to choose a guy for the right guard position?
A: Yeah yesterday, but I didn't get it done so I am going to have to wait. Really, it's kind of like you would really like to get it done as soon as possible but the most important thing is to make the right decision. I watched every play that Mike Harris was in yesterday, I thought he did a good job. He got tripped once, but other than that I thought he did a nice job yesterday. I watched every 1-on-1 with him. So, we'll just keep trying to progress at that spot. It's more important to make the right decision than to make a fast decision.
Q: Is there more urgency at that the right guard sport, than say linebacker or cornerback?
A: No, I think all those positions have the same urgency. I talked to Audie [Cole], Audie is doing a lot of things right in practice. I feel like he just needs to cut it loose a little bit. He is not playing cautious, but he is trying not to make a mistake. I said, "Hey you know what to do, if you make a mistake, go make it full speed. Let's cut it loose a little bit." We're going to keep looking. I am actually going to put [Gerald] Hodges at mike linebacker for a couple of plays just to see what he's like in there. [Eric] Kendricks has been getting a lot of reps, so we'll just keep going and see how it goes, and actually, Mike Mauti is doing a good job at mike linebacker. So, we'll see and that's the beauty of having these five preseason games, we're
going to get a lot of reps.
Q: Is the safety position opposite of Harrison Smith still an open competition?
A: Yeah, I think we're still looking to find the best combination. Sometimes with the safeties it's the communication between the two safeties, communication with the corners. You're always trying to get the very best athletes in there and I won't know any of that stuff until we tackle. Like [Antone] Exum is doing some good things and [Shaun] Prater is doing some good things. I know [Andrew] Sendejo can tackle a little bit but Exum especially and Prater from tackling from a safety position it's going to be a little bit new for him. I am anxious to see those two guys coming out of from the deep part of the field and make tackles.
Q: You guys put Shaun Prater at safety in the past. What is it about him that looks like he is better at that spot?
A: I had a kid once that played for me that was a corner, a nickel and a safety and we just called him a DB [defensive back]. He is a DB because he can do a lot of different things. That is one of the things I like about Shaun. Shaun is a smart guy. He can run and he's tough and I like smart, tough guys. The more things you can do, you're on special teams, a guy gets hurt on gameday and you've got 46 guys and you go in at nickel, you go in at safety, you go in at corner. All those things have value.
Q: What is the key element, technique-wise, for a running back with picking up the blitz?
A: Technique-wise, they want to make sure that they get to the right spot, they want to stay square and then they want to punch without launching forward on them. We didn't do a very good job yesterday in that period with the linebackers, so we're going get some more of it tonight. But we've got some more work to do with those guys. It's like all positions, its positioning, its making sure that we put a target on them, we shoot our hands and be physical with them. The defenders want the running backs to move so we can get them moving one way and go back the other or not be able to sit down like an offensive lineman does and they run you over.
Q: Where do you teach the eyes during pass protection?
A: Yeah, it's really the center mass of the body.
Q: Is the punch the thing they miss the most, because they swing forward?
A: Sometimes. Sometimes when you punch, you have a tendency to lean forward and then you get top heavy. Sometimes you don't move your feet enough to stay square where you can get to it, so those two things are really the biggest things. I've got to stay square and I've got to punch and I've got to make sure that I move my feet with my body centered.
Q: Were you pleased to see how Matt Kalil and Brandon Fusco worked together when you were working on stunts and twists?
A: Yeah, it's still a work in progress. That was the first day that we really have done that. We've run a few games in the team periods, but after we got done with the 1-on-1's, that was specifically to get involved in there. So, it's still a long work in progress and it's important to be on the same page, make sure that you're not at different levels with the offensive line, that you don't allow the defenders to penetrate, and then the communication is big. So, we've got a long ways to go there.
Q: What have you seen so far from MyCole Pruitt?
A: He seems to be doing well. I like him, he's 260 pounds, I think he's got a chance to be a very good blocker down the road. He's got excellent hands and he's learning the things that he needs to learn. He doesn't have very many mental errors as we get going through practice. He's got a lot of technique things he's got to clean up and be more precise, as all the players do.
Q: How are you guys preparing for the San Francisco 49ers game and what is your number one priority in terms of taking it day-by-day here and focusing on game one?
A: Well, my number one priority right now is to teach these players the techniques and getting them to understand what I want as a football team each day, each time we meet, each time we go out to practice, so that when we do get to that game, we can perform at the level that I want to perform at. We're not really focused on – as a team or coaching staff – we're not focused on San Francisco at all. We're concerned about really today, us getting better today and the things that we have to do. And then one of my concerns with Rick [Spielman] is to try to start getting an evaluation of the 53 guys, the best 53 guys for this football team. So, that's always on my mind but more importantly it's trying to teach these guys the techniques that I want them do, get them to understand the kind of effort I want them to give, what kind of discipline I want them to have, how I want them to perform in a crucial situation in a ball game.
Q: What did you see from Gerald Hodges that made you want to try him in the middle spot?
A: Gerald has done a very nice job of things that I'm asking him to do and I'm hopeful that he will continue to do those things. If he does, then Gerald has a chance to be a very quality NFL football player. He's big, strong and fast. He's intelligent so, if he can continue on the right path, then he has an opportunity.
Q: Was Gerald Hodges similar to Audie Cole in regards to the communication stuff?
A: He's working real hard at the communication stuff. He's been through it before and a lot of these guys, young guys, rookies, second-year guys, a year ago, being through the system right now, they have a much better understanding of that. But it's really not so much about the communication with Gerald, it's some other things that I want him to do.
Q: Xavier Rhodes attributes a lot of his success last season to you. Do you think you can shape up Trae Waynes in the same way?
A: Well, Trae is a very talented athlete, good kid, smart kid. I think he's got toughness, we'll find out a little bit more as we get going, but I'm hopeful that he does continue on that way. He shows a lot of good things in practice and he's starting to act a lot less like a rookie than he was through the OTAs. He was a little bit rookie-ish but now, he's doing much better. He's starting to take charge out there and do the things we're asking him to do. He's still got a lot of work to do technique-wise, as all of them do.