Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
I was just made aware of the accident at the stadium today with a couple of the workers and one of them has passed away, it's a sad day for us with the Vikings and our prayers and thoughts go out to their families. We'll start and get ready for Dallas tomorrow; we're still working on us today, but tomorrow we'll start doing a little bit on Dallas. These next two games are extremely important for a lot of guys. They're going to get a lot of playing time in these two games, so we're looking for a lot of improvement especially out of the young guys and a lot of roster spots are up for grabs.
Q: Do you buy into the philosophy that the third preseason game is like a dress rehearsal?
A: No, I've never done it that way. We really don't gameplan for it. Our guys have been through all of that for 16 weeks now anyway. It's still about us and doing what we do and seeing if we can do it good against a team that we really haven't studied much or anything like that. So it'll be a good test. They're a very, very good offensive football team. They've improved a lot defensively. They've always done a good job on special teams, so it'll be a good test.
Q: When you have to cut to 75 players by Tuesday, how soon do you make those decisions? Do you know over the weekend or not until Monday night?
A: We'll start thinking about it more Sunday after the game because of the possibility of injuries, there's other reasons too. We've got to play another game, make sure we've got enough people at each position and things like that.
Q: How tough is the switch from outside linebacker to the middle and how confident are you that Gerald Hodges can make the adjustment?
A: I don't know how tough it is, honestly. When I was in college, I had a nose tackle move there and he played pretty good. What he's [Gerald Hodges] done is he's improved a lot in a lot of the things he does, in the meeting rooms, in the classroom, in the weight room and he's performed well when he's had a chance to play. He's a guy who has a lot of acceleration, he's got some physicality to him and I just thought it would be good to give him an opportunity and see what it looks like.
Q: Did you guys do a lot of homework on Mike Wallace before trading for him just to dig in on his personality?
A: Yeah, we always do our homework. I have no qualms or issues about Mike Wallace at all. I like the kid an awful lot. I talked to several people about him.
Q: Has anything about him surprised you at this point?
A: No, not really. I was told he was a hard worker, he is. Obviously, I knew how fast he was from playing against him. Maybe his leadership a little bit. I didn't know much about that, but he's not afraid to say things to other players to get them practicing or doing the things that should be done the right way. I didn't know he stays out extra and catches a lot of balls on the Jugs machine and things like that, but for the most part, pretty much as I expected.
Q: You have a young receiver group, was that by design or did it just happen that way?
A: No, we're just looking for players.
Q: Eric Kendricks said he wants to work on his patience the most. What do you want to see from him?
A: I think a lot of it has to do with experience. He's kind of a high-strung kid anyway and so he always wants to get to the ball, but there's times where has to be a little more patient if he's behind the play as opposed to over-running it, things like that. You'd much rather always say, "whoa" than "go" to guys and so he's a guy that you've just got to slow him down just a little bit. Then when he diagnosis the play, then it's let it go.
Q: Where are you at with your evaluation of Stefon Diggs as a punt returner?
A: Yeah, we're still doing that every day. I like a lot of the things he's done returning punts. He's been a pleasant surprise in a lot of ways. We knew what kind of athlete he was and all of that, but he's been a great kid. He works hard, he tries to get better every day. He's been working really hard at catching punts. The more times we can play outdoors – it's windy in Tennessee – and things like that to get some good looks at some of those kinds of things you're talking about.
Q: Is there still some concern about him fielding them on a consistent basis?
A: It's not as much of a concern as it was at the beginning. He's catching the ball good. The other day was really windy and he missed one.
Q: How close is Shamar Stephen to playing now that he is back on the field?
A: It won't be this week.
Q: But you're still confident he will be back for the regular season?
A: Yeah, from what they tell me.
Q: How much of a leap are you hoping from him after having a good rookie season?
A: Well, he's missing an awful lot of time. He was really coming on before. Some of the things he did early on in the first preseason game really showed a lot of improvement. Now you just have to wait and see where he is when he comes back.
Q: Yesterday, Blair Walsh said he expects you to be mad, but he still prides himself on being even-keeled. Do you see that he can take that in the heat of the moment and bounce back the next day?
A: That's good because sometimes I get upset and I might say some things to some players when they're not doing what I want them to do. But I think everybody that plays for us understands they have a job to do. We expect him to do that and so, whether it's the kicker or the quarterback or the middle linebacker, we're going to let him now when we're not pleased. Sometimes it's good to get a little pressure put on by the coach.
Q: How do you like the tight end position beyond Kyle Rudolph?
A: Good, Rhett [Ellison] has always been a guy that's been a tough guy that we ask a lot of things to do. He always shows up, he always works hard. He's getting better at catching the ball. [MyCole] Pruitt, is a guy that was really, really moving good until this last injury. I think he's a got a very, very good future. And Chase Ford, when he gets in there he does a lot of really good things, catching the football in the passing game that creates some mismatches for people. [Brandon] Bostick is still learning a lot of the stuff that we're trying to do.
Q: How much from a roster evaluation standpoint does a guy's ability to game plan impact their chances of making the roster and is that difficult to evaluate in the preseason?
A: We give them more things to learn on a daily basis than we would on a weekly basis. We come out here and we'll add 10, 12, 15 plays in one day and expect them to get it done, or defensively, we'll add a lot of things, too. That part does not really bother me. Once you get the gameplan in, like we had today the walk-thrus and all of that. I still feel like it's better that we work on us, get better technique so that when they do end up going out there and playing they don't have to think about, 'where is my hand supposed to be, what kind of footwork am I supposed to have, my body position.' I think it's important that those things become so ingrained in them that they just go out and do it.
Q: Is it a good thing you're playing Dallas, a team that was in the playoffs last year, to see your roster against another talented roster?
A: I think it's great. I think it's great that we're playing a team that's very, very talented because it gives me a better understanding of our team and where we're at and guys they're going against. You always look at different match-ups, anyway, whoever we're playing. There will be some good match-ups this week that we'll have to contend with.
Q: Anything sentimental when you go back to Dallas?
A: My house is there, I've got a house there. My daughter lives there.
Q: Do you ever think about them giving you your first NFL coaching job or winning a Super Bowl while you're there?
A: I'm friends with a lot of people there in the organization. The Joneses, they were always real good to me. Stephen [Jones] and I talk a fair amount. They invite me down to their hunting place a lot, I go down there quite a bit. I've still got tons and tons of people that worked in the building that I'm friends with. It's playing an opponent, I'm sure they want to win too.
Q: What do you see Matt Asiata's role on special teams being this year?
A: I think he will continue to do that and he's going to get some carries. He's proven that he deserves some of those things. Matt [Asiata] is a guy that will do anything we ask him to do, whether it's on the punt team or the kickoff return team or punt return team, he just goes in there and does. Matt wants to win, he wants to do good for his teammates. I really like him.