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Transcript: Zimmer and Bradford Addressed the Media Wednesday

*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *

We're getting ready for Carolina. They're a very good football team on both sides of the ball and special teams. They've got a lot of really good players and obviously they're the defending NFC champs. So it'll be a tough test for us. We placed Matt Kalil on IR today and Adrian (Peterson) is having surgery tomorrow. I didn't tell the Carolina media and I was going to tell you guys first, but it got out.

Q: What does Adrian getting surgery mean for him? And what is his prognosis for the season?

A: I have no idea. We'll find out after the surgery how bad it is and whatever the situation is.

Q: Is he having his meniscus repaired or trimmed?

A: Well that depends on when doctor goes in there. When he goes in and looks at he has to make a decision on whether to repair or trim it. It depends on how bad the meniscus is.

Q: Is it possible that this injury could be season ending?

A: Everything is possible. It could be season ending. It could be three or four weeks. I don't know. You'll have to talk to the doctors. I'm sure they'll let you know after the surgery.  

Q: So does Matt Kalil have a hip injury?

A: Yes.  

Q: Has it become so bad through playing that Kalil required being placed on IR?

A: He needs surgery.   

Q: Will it be season ending IR for Matt Kalil or will be able to comeback this season?

A: We're assume it will be (season ending). Yes. 

Q: How do you feel about losing Kalil and Peterson in the same day?

A: I feel we have to go back to work and get ready to play Carolina.

Q: Have you looked at adding another running back for depth?

A: Yes. We're going to sign one.

Q: Is that for depth or do you like what you already have in McKinnon and Asiata?

A: Yeah, I think we'll be fine.

Q: Are you looking for a running back or have you already found one?

A: We've signed one.  

Q: Who is the running back?

A: Ronnie Hillman. 

Q: What is your plan at left tackle with Matt Kalil being out?

A: T.J. Clemmings.   

Q: Do you feel like Ronnie Hillman can someone who can be a big part of things or is this just for depth?

A: I don't know. We'll have to see where he is. It's his first day here, so he's got a lot to learn.  

Q: What's your overall message to the team?

A: I just told them what was going on and I expect them to perform the way I always expect them to perform. There's no overriding message. 

Q: What have you seen from T.J. playing the left tackle position this year?

A: He's done pretty good especially in the preseason. He's a good athlete and he's going to compete and fight.

Q: Did Ronnie Hillman's long run against you guys last year make him stick out when looking for a running back?

A: No. I mean the scouts looked at it. I honestly didn't have a lot of time to do a lot of running back evaluations yesterday.

Q: Before Adrian got hurt was there any indication through his play that he wasn't at full speed?

A:  No.   

Q: Do you think it was run blocking or just not finding holes?

A: I think it was a combination of both.  

Q: Do you see Hillman as a guy who can contend for the starting job?

A: I don't know. I don't know anything about him other than he signed today. We played him last year, so I don't have any idea. It's a little early to worry about that.

Q: The NFL changed the rule on injury designated to return?

A: You don't have to designate.

Q: Is injury designated to return an option for Adrian Peterson?

A: Yeah, but Peterson is not on IR. However, Kalil is on IR, so it would be an option for him.

Q: So are you prepared to wait eight weeks for Adrian Peterson?

A: Yes. 

Q: So will Jerick McKinnon be your starter or is it situational?

A: McKinnon will start.

Q: Do you already have someone for the offensive line or are you looking around?

A:  No. At this point and time I think it's hard to find left tackles that are on the street. We're planning on going with what we've got.  

Q: Trae Waynes was in the pockets of the receiver all night, does he have bad habits that he needs to clean up?

A: No. I don't think it's that. You know there's some pushing and shoving going on. There was a couple of them that I thought could've went either way. I'd much rather have him be aggressive and get a couple of those once in a while than play real soft and scared. He wasn't either one of those.    

Q: Have to be impressed with how close he was to everybody that night?

A: Yeah and that's part of the thing I've said with his progression. You know he's been covering guys tight. He covered guys tight in Tennessee and he covered guys tight last week. His next progression is to make plays and that's what he did a few times this past weekend. I think his progression from the Tennessee game to the other night are the steps that you need to take. The best way to get a guy to quit throwing the ball at you is to make plays.

Q: How would you assess the defense overall through the first couple of weeks?

A: I think we've played hard. I think for the most part we've done a good job in the run game. I think we're doing okay.

Q: Do you feel good about how they contained Aaron Rodgers in the pocket?

A: Yeah, but I talk about Green Bay on Monday. Really we should be talking about the NFC Champions we're getting ready to play. Carolina (Panthers), Cam Newton, Greg Olson and all of those guys. They're pretty damn good.

Q: Is it simple to say stop Newton and stop the Panthers?

A: No. I think they do a great job offensively. You know they've got some huge big receivers. The tight end is a good player. I'm a bit impressed with their offensive line and how they protect. They've got a bunch of misdirection runs and quarterback runs. You know he's throwing the ball well. He's tough in the pocket as well to get out. 

Q: Does the fact that Cam Newton can run and throw make stopping him that more challenging?

A:  Yeah. They have a very innovative offense where they can use the quarterback runs, option game and misdirection. I does make it difficult. You have to be very disciplined in what you're doing.

Q: With so many moving parts on offense, do you think this is the type of defense that likes to take on ownership and "say this is going to be on us"?

A: I think this team is like that. This team to me is a team that is resilient, tough and competitive. Obviously we've had a few setbacks. I think if you go back last year and look at the things that happened you know we're not the type of team that's going to sit back and cry about what's happening. We're going to go forward and try to find a way.    

Q: Have you crossed paths with Ron Rivera much?

A: Not really, I've talked to Ron a few times. Have a lot of respect for him. He's done an unbelievable job, won 14 straight games at home. They play good defense they've been in the top 10 the last five years or something, top five maybe. Offensively, they scored 46 last week so they can do a lot of things. Ron has done a great job there. We're just trying to see if we can play with the big boys.

Q: Is there value to watching the game from two years ago?

A: Well, we blocked two punts for touchdowns so that helped and it was about 10 degrees so that helped. I mean, we watched the game, obviously. I'm sure they did too. 

Q: Do you think your team is close to the identity of the Denver Broncos?

A: I don't know, Denver is pretty good. I don't really compare cause I don't know what they do defensively. I like our guys on defense, they compete, they play hard. They take a lot of pride in the job that they do.

Q: Does facing Mariota and Rodgers help prepare for Cam Newton?

A: Yeah, he's much bigger and more physical. I guess maybe it does. You have to be careful with how you rush him just like you do with the other two guys. I mean, the offenses are different, the protections are different. There's a lot of different things and obviously there's some similarities as well. 

Q: Does this create an opportunity to prove people wrong?

A: I would think so, I don't think many people think we can win this game. I don't think many people thought we could win the last game. 

Q: How does the loss of Adrian change the offense?

A: That's our identity and that's how we're built. We're going to continue to stay that way. Hopefully we can play good defense and hopefully we can run the ball. Take our shots when we get a chance. We're not going to change and go to like five-wide's every play.

Q: Did they tell you what kind of tear he suffered?

A: I don't know, we're not talking about just an average, run of the mill guy. To me, again, it's all about the team and how the team plays. How the quarterback throws the ball to get us in the right plays, the protections, how the defense plays, special teams. I know everybody is all concerned about we don't have this or we don't have that but it's a team. That's why we have 53 guys here, so that we can try to win as a team. That's all I've ever done since I've been here.

*Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford *

Q: How does Adrian Peterson's injury affect the Vikings if he is out long term?

A: Obviously it's hard to replace a player like Adrian [Peterson]. He's the best running back in the NFL, but it's just kind of the next man up. I haven't been here long, but I think we've got a great group of running backs. I think the guys behind him are eager for the opportunity. I think that we have two very talented guys right now, and I've got all the confidence in the world in the guys that we've got in the locker room right now.

Q: What have you seen from both Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata in the limited reps you've gotten with them?

A: I think you can use those guys in a lot of different ways. I think you can pound the ball between the tackles from under center. They can both run the ball in some of the side, gun runs. I think they both catch the ball very well; they protect very well. It's nice to have the options we have with those two guys, and I'd that we'd try to use them in as many different ways as we can.

Q: How much does the threat of Adrian Peterson set up some of the bigger plays you guys made in the passing game?

A: Obviously, when Adrian's in the game, everyone's loading the box, trying to stop the run, which gives us a lot of one-on-one matchups on the outside. It also makes our play action pretty effective. When they see him coming down hill, everyone's stepping up to stop the run. So, there are some things we took advantage of with him in the game. We'll have to see how defenses try to play us from here on out. I haven't been here when he hasn't played, so I don't know exactly what that's been like in the past, but I'd imagine we'll see some different looks now than when we had in the game? 

Q: Did you notice any changes after Adrian Peterson left the game?

A: Not a lot. I think their game plan had pretty much already been set with him in the game, and I don't think there was a noticeable difference in what we saw Sunday after he left the game. 

Q: How do you go forward after your performance and having another setback to deal with?

A: I don't think you can look at it as a setback. Obviously, we'd love to have him [Adrian Peterson] still playing, but like I said, I think it's just an opportunity for the next guy – next guys – to step up. We can't let that affect us. I think if you spend too much time dwelling on that, or you let that bring you down, it's going to affect your play. We've just go to prepare like it's a normal week, go out there, execute to the best of our ability and continue to improve as an offense.

Q: Did the victory and your performance take the edge off still trying to get acclimated to personnel and scheme? Were you nervous out there?

A: Yeah, I get nervous before every game. I think it's one of the things that kind of motivates me. You like to get that feeling before a game, to go out there and have those butterflies, but then usually when the game starts, they kind of go away.* *

Q: Now that you've been around the team a little bit, what's your impression of Mike Zimmer's defensive scheme?

A: There are a lot of talented guys over there on that side of the ball. They play fast. They play physical. They get after the quarterback. Schematically, I haven't really gone against them much; it's a lot of scout team work, but just watching the way those guys fly to the ball, the effort that they have, the intensity that they play with, I don't think it's a surprise the way that they've played so far this year.

Q: What'd you know about Stefon Diggs before you got here?

A: Honestly, not a lot, but I said it after the game – and I think I said it the first week I was were – he's one of those guys that when I first got here, that Saturday and we started watching tape, he was one of those guys that immediately popped on the film, and he just kind of stands out because he's always making plays. And then, in those first couple days of practice, to get out there and really have the opportunity to throw with him, I saw why – he's quick, he's fast, he's a great route runner, and obviously through two games, he has made a lot of big plays for us. 

Q: Did that first game you had restore a lot of the optimism for the team?

A: I don't know. You'd have to ask everyone outside this building. Like I've said, I don't really pay attention to what's going on outside. Good, bad or indifferent, it doesn't really affect me; it doesn't really affect any of the guys on this team. So, I don't really have an answer for that. 

Q: How much more confidence might you have this week as opposed to a week ago?

A: I think just being here for two weeks, having two weeks on the field in practice, I just feel more comfortable here, more comfortable in the walkthroughs, more comfortable in practice, more comfortable with our schemes. Obviously, going out the other night and playing the way we did and executing, I think that does give me and this group more confidence, but I just think having the time, those practices for the past couple weeks, I just feel more comfortable now.

Q: Did you watch the Eagles on Monday, and if so, what did you think of Carson Wentz?

A: I thought Carson played great. I didn't see all of the game, but I saw some of it. From what I saw, he looked really good. I thought he hung in there, made some tough throws, took some hits and delivered some strikes, but that doesn't really surprise me. I saw that from him in training camp. I expected him to come in and play well, and he has done that.

Q: Was crowd noise a problem for you guys in the huddle and at the line?

A: There were a few times where, yeah, it was a little bit loud in there, which I'm never going to complain about, because it's great to have that energy. But, there were a few times on offense where we were battling some of the excitement in that building on Sunday.

Q: Are you a quarterback that likes to be blitzed because there are opportunities it could give you, or would you rather be able to sit back and read things with a little more time?

A: I don't think it really matters. It depends on how you pick it up. There are so many variables in that question that it's hard to really say whether you want to be blitzed or you want to see coverage. You've got answers for both things. So, it's hard to really give an answer on that.

Q: How did you feel about the amount of time in the pocket you had on Sunday night?

A: I thought it was good. Obviously we were able to hit some big plays down field which is nice. I think obviously going forward there's some things we can do to change protections, I can be better at making calls. But for the most part I thought it was really good.   * *

Q: How big of a role did you play in changing the protections?

A: A fair amount, as much as I needed to.    

Q: How special was winning the Heisman?

A: That's taking me back right there. That was obviously one of the highlights of my college career. I grew up an Oklahoma fan, grew up going to games. Watching guys like Josh Heupel, Jason White play the position. Jason White won the Heisman when I was a young kid so being able to watch that and then follow him and win it, it was really kind of a dream come true.

Q: Do you have any experience with playing with a backup running back?

A: I think if you've been around this league long enough you've probably played with a backup at about every position because injuries happen. I'd have to go back and look at a specific game to really give you an answer. Like I said, those two guys played quite a bit for us on Sunday, they've played a lot in their career. I've got all the confidence in the world in them. I think they're both very good players, they're very talented. So I'm not worried about that. 

Q: Why do you think on occasion backup running backs are able to excel?

A: I don't know. I wish I could give you more on that but kind of like you said it's just one of those positions where every now and then guys just show up and have great years. 

Q: What have you seen from Carolina's defense?

A: It's a really good group. Obviously I think a big key for us this week is protecting the football. You look at what they were able to do last year, I think they led the league in forcing turnovers. I think they've forced six through two weeks this year. That's something that they pride themselves on and we've got to do a great job of making sure both in the run and pass game that we're taking care of the football this week.

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