*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
It's good to get back here out on the field. Guys are working hard and paying attention in meetings. They seem to be practicing with a purpose. We've got to teach these young guys how to practice and how to do things the way we do it. We've just got to keep grinding at that and keep trying to get better every day.
Q: Are you encouraged to have John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt back for OTAs after their season-ending injuries last season?
A: Yeah, it's nice. It's nice to get those guys back. They've been working hard, so I think the more competition you have, the better you are.
Q: Do you often see the younger guys pushing a little too hard when they are trying to make the team?
A: They've never really practiced with the rules that we have, so it's just reminding them every day how to do it the right way. They'll get it eventually.
Q: How much do you go out in the public in Minnesota and what reaction do you get?
A: I don't go out too much, but I'll go out to dinner and stuff like that. The reaction is always really good, really nice – right now. I know how that can change.
Q: Have you tried to engage with the fan base in any way during those situations or do you just let your work speak for itself?
A: Not really. I just try to be myself. People come up and take pictures and say hi and I always do it. I don't go out of my way to be a celebrity.
Q: With the guys who are returning, have you sensed an increased fuel and drive building off of last year's season?
A: This team knows how to work. I think they like to practice, I think they like to compete, they like football and it's really a credit to them. But really, anything that we did last year really doesn't matter and I think they understand that – most of them do. I had to remind them a little bit yesterday. We came out and we were a little bit just not like us. We were kind of cocky and talking smack to one another, so I had to remind them who we were.
Q: Have you been able to come up with some good solutions for the Adrian Peterson experiment in the shotgun with some of the new coaching staff on offense?
A: I think so, but we're working on it. Adrian has been here two days, so it's all a work in progress. We've only had two installs, but we have added a lot of different things. A lot of times during the spring time you look at different things and then you find out what's good and what's bad and you throw some stuff out or you add on to things that look good and you come up with some more ideas.
Q: Do you think pass blocking is an area that Jerick McKinnon needs to improve on in order to see more playing time?
A: I haven't really seen it much in here. Right now it's just kind of get in their way and the defenders pull off.
Q: Have you had a change in personality after going from a long-time coordinator to head coach? Is there anything you've had to do differently?
A: I don't think so. If you ask the guys from Cincinnati or the guys who were around me before, I don't want to change. I want to be myself. I want to coach. I don't want to stand back here and yell at guys for doing things wrong; I want to coach. So I don't think I've changed my personality much.
Q: Are OTAs one of the most fundamental things for the rookies to be at in terms of learning before training camp?
A: Yeah, that's a lot of what we're doing. There is so much for young guys, the terminology and everything is new. They have to find out where the locker room is, find out where the meeting rooms are, what the schedule is today, what time they have to be out here and how to practice. So it's just really a combination of all those things. Like anybody, if you take a new job somewhere else, it's just all the different things you have to learn.
Q: How much of the speed in practice is different now than what you do once the season starts?
A: We go pretty fast. It initially is very fast and we just have to make sure we're pulling off of things.
Q: Were Anthony Barr and Sharrif Floyd able to do anything today?
Q: Are they injured?
A: Well, Floyd is, yeah. And Barr, I don't think he's injured.
Q: Is Sharrif Floyd dealing with something that goes back to last year or is it something new?
A: Yeah, it's basically from last year.
Q: Is that still a concern for you with him not being able to participate?
A: Well, if it gets into training camp like that, then it will be an issue, but I don't think it'll be that way.
Q: Is it nice to not have the circus surrounding Adrian Peterson around this time last year?
A: Yeah, it's good, but there's always going to be something. It's always a circus one way or another, but it's nice to just concentrate on football.
Q: Does it feel a little different from last year around this time with being able to concentrate just on football?
A: Last year, there wasn't a lot of things I could do, so I just concentrated on football then, too. I think when you've got all the guys here, it's easy to focus on football and concentrate on it.
Q: How have John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt looked these last two practices?
A: Good, and I've watched them in phase two and they're doing good. But I don't want to be an instant evaluator, but I think Sully has really come back in better shape. He looks completely healthy to me, and Phil has worked into doing everything and I think he's doing good, too.
Q: Do you talk to Blair Walsh at all about the miss from last season?
A: I've talked to him, but it's more about what are you doing now, how you did today. He hit all of them today, I'm sure you all marked it down how many he hit in a row. But no, I made mistakes last year, too, so we'll just go on about our business and try to get better.
Q: Is a team that has swagger and confidence important as long as they can keep the cockiness to a minimum?
A: Well, it's important that we understand who we are, what kind of team we are. We're a blue collar team that works hard, that doesn't make a lot of mistakes, that doesn't commit a lot of penalties, that doesn't beat ourselves. That's who we are and I've told them it's okay to be that way. It's more about let's not try to be someone else because everybody says we're this or we're going to be good or whatever. Each year is totally different and it's an important part of my job I think to remind them. I know they're confident and I know they've having fun when they're out here, but it's my job to remind them how we have to play in order to win games and remind them where we came from and who we are.
*Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson *
Q: How long have you been working out in Minnesota?
A: I got in Monday, so the last two days.
Q: How does it feel to be back in Minnesota?
A: I feel pretty good. Just to be back in the building, to see the faces, to be around the coaches and the players and have a chance to meet the young guys. It's been good so far.
Q: How do you gauge yourself this offseason?
A: Mostly on my conditioning. Just making sure that my stamina is where it needs to be. You know honestly as far as my weight, I'm normally around the same weight. So that's a pretty easy job and just make sure that my body is in sync from my legs to my upper body I'm strong and I feel good overall.
Q: Have you given rookie WR Moritz Böhringer your custom handshake yet?
A: (Laughter) I actually haven't laid it on him yet. I was more of shoulder hug and whatnot, but I thought about that yesterday and I was like, 'I wonder if he's going to be prepared when I do shake his hand.' I actually just passed him coming through the weight room and I said what's up to him and he was kind of like a little kid and he was like (gives head nod). He was little shy, but a lot of the other rookies it's been good just to see them work and see their work ethic. So it's been exciting.
Q: Was this the first time you met Moritz Böhringer in person?
A: Yeah. That was the first time.
Q: How is your relationship with Head Coach Mike Zimmer?
A: I feel like we have a real good relationship. We're truthful with one another. We're open. He can tell me what's on his mind without holding anything back and I do the same as well. So when you have that type of relationship it's easy to be on the same page and to not take things personal even if it comes across maybe in the wrong light. Or you don't like what the other person has to say, you can take it as truth because you have that feeling and that understanding that person has your best interests.
Q: What kind of football prep do you do in the offseason?
A: Just running routes and just really focusing on learning the route tree. Just being more agile and running routes not as stiff. You got a young guy Jerick (McKinnon). He's a Pro Bowl athlete. He does a great job of providing that scat back for us when he's out there, so just being more involved in that aspect.
Q: Have you been working on your route running with a coach prior to today?
A: Yeah. You know you get out and you run routes. I have routes and a playbook. Just go out whether it's before or after the workout you get 10 routes in each. Maybe it's a flat, maybe it's an option route. You just kind of go through it and just kind of pinpoint being patient depending on where the route and the concept that's going to be called. That's how you improve that way.
Q: How has Phil Loadholt looked so far?
A: Yeah. He looks good and Sully (C John Sullivan) as well. It's good having those guys back that was exciting. Just to be out here to see those guys back in front of me and not only just back in front of me, they're out here and they're moving around well and they're two of our leaders. So it's just good to have them back. They looked good.
Q: Is there a big role for you in helping this team meet expectations this year?
A: Yeah. There's a big role. You know the older guys and the veterans they understand what we're trying to accomplish and the young guys do to a certain extent. But I feel like it's my job to embrace them and encourage them. Our vets would pull a couple of the young guys to the side and briefly talk to them and let them know that I've been watching and I'm liking what I'm seeing. Just make sure you make the best of your opportunity and bring your best foot forward to make every day count. A couple things like that I know that motivates those guys and keeps those guys hungry. I always end it with "we're trying to win a championship, so we want you to help us be a part of that."
Q: Does this upcoming year feel any different than years past?
A: Yeah. It does and you know even more than just the words that are coming out because it's great for people to be able to envision it and then speak those things into existence. But also put the work in. Everything hasn't been perfect, but the one thing I like is guys' right here are working hard and they're putting their best foot forward to improve. You know guys are not going through the motions and you know, this early, to see that type of energy and that type of competitiveness from the guys and the young guys as well has me pretty excited.
Q: What have you said to Phil Loadholt to keep his spirits up as he's battled injuries?
A: You know, just continue doing what you've been doing and what's gotten you to this point now that you're back out here at your position. You know, and most importantly, I was telling Sully the other day the hardest thing for me coming back from the injury was, you know, I was ready to roll. I was ready, but mentally that pull can really get you. Like 'Am I really ready? Can I do this? Can I not do that?' So defeating yourself mentally is the biggest thing.
Q: How would you characterize the shape you are in now?
A: I'm in better shape. You know I always try to come back and do better than what I did the previous offseason and there was a lot of things that I was able to take back from last offseason that opened my eyes. This year it might be the little things, but I'm that much more focused.
Q: Have you changed anything in your approach when running the ball out of the shotgun formation?
A: You know the biggest thing is me just being more patient and that's something that you go through practice reps and doing that as well. That's something that I was more conscious of last year and that'll be an easier transition for me. Just being more patient and I feel like here in the past couple of days I've done a pretty good job of doing that. But there's still room to improve. We had (a new play) today and I thought I was being patient, but I felt myself be little too fast. The pace was too fast on it, so just look at that, correct it and keep moving forward.
Q: Do you feel your patience in the shotgun can be improved from more reps in practice as opposed to training alone?
A: Yeah. To really get the true feel of it. For instance, on that play it was a little bit more penetration, so they kind of forced me to speed it up. But even in that instance I still have to be a little more patient than I was.
Q: Do you feel like you are in the best shape of your life?
A: I feel good, you know. I'm in good shape.