Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Going back to last night, I thought there were some good things that we did. It was good to get all the fans out there. It was really kind of a fun night. I happened to be driving down the road and there was a line all the way out to the road starting from back there and that's pretty impressive that this organization has that kind of fans. Today's practice, we shortened it up a little bit and I tried to let the players sleep in a little today, but we got a lot of work done and then Alan Page came out and talked to us. It's great to have these great former Vikings come in and talk to the team. His stats, I happened to read them out in front of the team and these guys couldn't believe all of the things that he did. I like doing that with these former players. It gives them a chance to understand a little bit about how we want to go about getting to that spot. And plus he's from Canton.
Q: Looking back, what have you learned from last year going into this year?
A: Maybe expect the unexpected. I don't know. You can read my book. I've got a book coming out. Right, Bob [Hagan]? All of the different things. There's so many things, from walking into a new building, to new players, to trying to get them to understand new systems and new ways of doing things from all the things that happen, the ups and downs throughout the season. Practice schedules, draft, you know there's so many things that you go through in that first year that kind of get you. I was lucky, I was fortunate that we have a lot of people in this organization to help me. Coaches, front office people, so that helps a lot.
Q: Did any players stand out during the practice last night?
A: Well, [Stefon] Diggs had a nice night catching the ball. [Trae] Waynes did some good things. I thought [Terence] Newman had a couple good plays. Audie Cole, I asked him to cut it loose a little bit, I thought he cut it loose some. That's off the top of my head, I've already moved on to today's practice I guess.
Q: How has Edmond Robinson been developing and handling the big jump from Newberry to the NFL?
A: It is. He's doing a good job. He played more of a cover-down linebacker in college. He's progressing about like we expect him to. Obviously, a lot of new learning for him and understanding and as you said from a small college, but that's okay. He's got time to learn and he'll continue to do so. Adam [Zimmer] is doing a good job teaching him.
Q: A lot of cornerbacks that have had success under you credit your coaching for their success. Why is that a position of focus for you?
A: For what we do defensively, it's an extremely important position. It allows you to do so many other things if you have the kind of guys you're looking for and they'll do what you want. A lot of it is just back studying and trying to figure out the best way to teach and trying to get these guys to try to understand the best position to be in. I don't know, I like it, I just like it. I like coaching all of them but I like that position as well.
Q: How often have you played five preseason games? What are the pros and cons of having that fifth preseason game?
A: Well, I'm pretty old, so I played a lot when there was five preseason games. But I played in the Hall of Fame game, this will be my third time. I don't necessarily think there really is a negative to it. I think it gives you good work, especially for a young football team. I think it's good. It gives us another chance to evaluate these young players. We've got a young quarterback; he needs some work. We'll see.
Q: How did Gerald Hodges look playing middle linebacker last night?
A: He had a couple nice plays. He didn't play a lot in there. It was just kind of a first introduction but he did a couple good things.
Q: What do you want to see more from Gerald Hodges?
A: Just more of the same, just more of the same. Today, he had a good day, I thought. He's flying around and he's got some physicality to him and some toughness. When he thumps you, he thumps you. I'm just trying to look at ways to get guys, the best and however I can get him out there. I don't care if there's six defensive linemen and one linebacker. I don't really care how we do it, I just want to get the best guys on the field if I can.
Q: Taylor Heinicke got some second team reps today. What did you see from him leading up to today?
A: We were kind of resting Shaun [Hill] today, his arm. I think we ran out of oil in the training room. But Shaun, he did a good job last night. Like a lot of young guys, he'll have some good plays and he'll have some really bad plays. We have to try and eliminate some of these bad plays. He's very conscientious in trying to get everything done the right way. I'm not sure that he's been coached like Norv [Turner] has coached him before, so that's kind of a new experience. But Norv is not afraid to get after these quarterbacks and he might not have had that quite as much, it kind of looks like. Those are all learning experience for him. Wait until he gets in the game and Norv gets him on the phone.
Q: Is everybody still fairly healthy and what's Gavin Lutman's status?
A: He's got a hamstring. We had a couple of little bumps today, so we'll see how those go. So far so good.
Q: Has Terence Newman played in the slot in the past a lot?
A: A while back, yeah. He's got great quickness and he's been able to do that in the past. He has always been so good at corner that we have kind of left him out there, but I'm just trying to figure out how to get the best crew that I can get in there. I'm looking at all kinds of different scenarios.
Q: With the extra preseason game, at what point do you stop tinkering with players trying different positions?
A: I don't know, it's just when I feel comfortable with it. I don't know if I will because a lot of these scenarios may come up during the season. Like I said with Trae Waynes before, I think all of these guys knowing more than one thing is good because so many things can happen throughout the course of the season. If Newman ends up having to go inside or if Trae happens to go inside or however it ends up. Captain [Munnerlyn] has to go outside. They have to know more than one spot. Plus, it gives me a chance to evaluate guys in a lot of different places and maybe see them when they're a little bit uncomfortable, too and that's not always a bad thing.
Q: How important is the extra preseason games for the fringe players?
A: Right now we're not doing as much, as we get closer to the game we will. We've emphasized to them, the fringe players, as you called them, how much the special teams part will play a big factor. A lot it comes down to performing in the preseason games. One of the things you have to be a little bit careful of in the preseason games when you're evaluating your third group defense against their third group offense. They're not going against the first team guys and vice versa for the other side too. You kind of have to try to maneuver that around a little bit so you can see them against good people, as well, because you don't want to get a false impression just because the guy does well in the preseason. That's part of the reason why I am moving guys around a little bit right now in practice, because I want to see [David] Yankey against Sharrif [Floyd] and things like that.
Q: What's bothering Carter Bykowski?
A: He's got a bruise that has kind of swelled up. It's just a bruise. I think Sug [Eric Sugarman] said it's an edema that went down his leg a little bit, so it kind of swelled up but we expect him back quickly.
Q: What have you seen from Carter Bykowski over this span, going back to last season?
A: I really like how he changed a lot of his body structure throughout the offseason. He did a nice job. He got stronger and thicker. Plus, he's a good athlete, he moves good and he is a smart guy.
Q: What's DuJuan Harris' injury?
Q: What do you think of DuJuan Harris?
A: I think he is a good runner. I think he is a very good runner. He's got a lot quickness, he sees things. It's hurting him a little bit not being out there right now.
Q: Are there any rookies that have stood out and impressed you by learning what you're teaching quickly?
A: I have been impressed with most of the rookies. Looks like we had a good draft. You temper that a little bit because you haven't seen them in games before, but so far [Eric] Kendricks, Waynes, [B.J.] Dubose has lost some weight, he is doing a good job. Also [MyCole] Pruitt and Diggs. All of these guys are showing that they have NFL ability and now they got to go out and do it in games.
Q: Is Josh Robinson any closer to getting back onto the field?
A: No. Not yet.
Q: How are some of the young offensive lineman progressing? Are any of them stepping up?
A: We're getting them a lot of work. T.J. Clemmings continues to do some good things. He is a very, very good athlete. He is trying to learn the things that we are trying to do. [Austin] Shepherd is doing a good job. Zac Kerin, some of the things that he's done lately, I like.
Q: What position is B.J. Dubose playing?
A: We're playing him inside right now.
Q: How are you seeing the progression of the players such as Everson Griffen and Harrison Smith with it being there second year in your system?
A: They need to improve? Yeah, they do, they all do. That's the kind of guys we have. I think they feel much more comfortable in the things we are doing. One of the things I always try to do, not just with the defensive players, but the entire football team, is I want them to learn more about the game of football, not just the position that they play. Today in a meeting I asked one of the defensive lineman something about coverage position or something like that, because I want them learning about football. I don't want them learning just about, "This is what I do, I don't need to know anything else.' I want to try and teach them about the game.
Q: Could you share with us Alan Page's comments to the team, was it a pep talk?
A: No, not really. I don't really want to get into it. He was just talking about some of his experiences and some of the reasons why he had success.
Q: What's been your take on Captain Munnerlyn so far this camp?
A: Good. He is paying attention and doing things that we ask him to do. He seems like he's dialed in.
Q: Has the technique improved for Captain Munnerlyn?
A: It looks like it so far, year. He's been dealing with a couple of nagging things, so he's maybe not getting as many reps as he needs right now but he'll start getting some.
Q: How has the progression been for Adam Thielen from last year to right now?
A: Adam, he runs great routes. He practices very, very hard, he's a smart guy, he's a tough guy. He does a lot of different things. He can line up in a lot of different spots. He's starting to become more of a leader on the special teams, especially. The thing I like about him is that he's got some feistiness to him. I hear him talking some smack to the DBs once in a while or me if I say something to him. It's good.