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Transcript: Zimmer and Smith Addressed the Media Friday

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Q: Do you have a Captain Munnerlyn shirt?

A: No I don't. I try to stay away from him as much as possible. Game a week from today, though. That'll be interesting, coming up quick.

Q: What's the latest update on Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerick McKinnon?

A: I think they'll probably both be out there a little bit today. At least for individual, we'll see.

Q: How valuable has Brian Robison been as a mentor for the younger guys?

A: I'm not positive but when we first got here he was kind of feeling his way through it but he's really bought into it specifically in the last year and a half or two years. I feel like he's really helped the guys being a good leader with the team. He tends to communicate a lot of things that I communicate to the team. He's done a great job. It's impressive when guys get older in their careers and they want to learn new things. They want to be able to do different things and we're trying to figure out ways to do those kind of things to maybe extend his career.

Q: A lot of what you are asking him to do may make someone else look better. How do you get someone to buy into that?

A: I think he had a good year last year. He had six-plus sacks last year, better than the year before. Sometimes these guys realize that when they get toward the end of their career that winning is pretty good and the chance to do something special overrides the individual achievements. 

Q: Danielle Hunter has been getting a lot of reps. Is that going to be the status quo going forward?

A: He's pretty good, still a long ways away. We're still a month away from a game but he's going to play.

Q: How about Tom Johnson in the defensive rotation?

A: Also the same.

Q: Do you feel that Sharrif Floyd's past injuries will impact how you will use him this season?

A: He has had an injury history but if you're healthy you go. He's not on any pitch count.

Q: Does your relationship with Marvin Lewis make the next week's practices in Cincinnati more possible?

A: It was definitely a big factor in it. Like the Senator [Al Franken] here, I'm not the glad-hander, I can't go out and shake hands with everybody. If it wasn't with Marvin, I probably wouldn't have done it. We have a great relationship and have had one for a long, long time even before I started working for him. I respect the things that he does and I know that his team will represent them and our team will represent us in the correct way.

Q: Will you use the Cincinnati practices to get the starters some extra work?

A: Especially on Thursday, where we'll practice against them in shoulder pads. That was the idea, to get the guys that typically play throughout the season to get more work that day. Usually that day is basically a walk-through and you don't do much so we're going to get some good situational stuff done with their good guys. It'll be fun.

Q: Will you change your rotations for the Cincinnati trip?

A: No, it will be just like we do in practice. I don't know what his rotation will be for that practice but ours will be just like we've been doing.

Q: Will you be rotating the safeties a lot in the preseason?

A: I want to get a good look at them. I don't know about rotating them a lot. But I want to get a good look at them.

Q: What have you seen from MyCole Pruitt? Will he get a chance to play?

A: I think MyCole has done a nice job. He looks improved to me and I think he's got a chance to be a good blocker. He's catching the ball good and running good routes. Yeah I think so.

Q: What has stood out to you about David Morgan?

A: He's a football player. He has little subtleties in his game that help him to get open. He catches the ball good, especially in traffic, and he's been a solid steady blocker and that's kind of why we were attracted to him because of his blocking ability. I felt like it was important that we tried to find some more point-of-attack blockers.

Q: Have you been surprised with his hands and catching abilities?

A: No. He's caught the ball good. I'm a little surprised that he's as nifty as he is in some of the condensed areas.

Q: What were your thoughts when Harrison Smith threw down Charles Johnson from behind yesterday?

A: It was a penalty.

Q: Did you talk to Harrison afterwards?

A: I didn't, no. I saw it on the tape. I didn't see it live but that's a horse-collar tackle and you can't do it.

Q: With the first game just a week away, when do you want to cement the depth chart?

A: Sunday. I'm going to try. It may not be solid at that point in time but Sunday we're going to have a long discussion about all the situations you're talking about and how we can start moving forward and see if it's the right combination of guys.

Q: What are your thoughts on Brett Favre and Tony Dungy as they enter the Hall of Fame?

A: I hated playing against Brett Favre because he was amazing. I had a lot of fun watching him and his enthusiasm for the game and great arm. Great competitor. I had the chance to play him when I was in Dallas. We played him a lot in the playoffs. It seemed like every year they were down there playing us but he was always a handful. Coach Dungy, I've gotten to know him a bit the last couple of years. It took him a long time to become a head coach and then he took advantage of it and had an unbelievable career and he's really a first-class man.

Q: Captain Munnerlyn was talking about trash talking. Do coaches ever get trash talked on the sideline?

A: Oh yeah. One of the better ones, it wasn't really trash talking but we were playing in Dallas and Mark Brunell was playing for the Redskins and he runs out of bounds and says, 'Hey Mike how are you doing'. It was just kind of weird but there's been some other situations that have been a little more heated.

Q: What have you seen from Justin Trattou this training camp?

A: JT [Trattou] has done a very nice job. We're moving him around a little bit in the nickel, he's playing the run good, he's been solid with everything he does. A couple years ago, he wasn't going to make the team and he was on the practice squad and then the same thing the next year and then he gets his opportunity and goes in and plays. It's a good lesson for a lot of young guys. I know he was disappointed when we ended up releasing him and bringing him back on the practice squad but if you keep working, fighting, keep trying to do your best, and stay in the right system and listen to the coaches, good things end up happening for you. I've been impressed with Justin.

*Vikings Safety Harrison Smith *

Q: Where would you say the secondary is at this point?

A: We've made some strides. We are putting more and more things in and we have to find more and more solutions and play fast and communicate well. We are working on those things, still making some errors, just trying to get better at communicating and working well together and making sure we are all on the same page.

Q: Is it easier to implement stuff earlier in camp on the defense with Zimmer now that he is in his third year?

A: I'm not really sure just because I don't remember exactly. I know I didn't have a great understanding my first year playing in the scheme and I think more and more guys have a better understanding. We still obviously have a lot of questions that we have to ask Zim and ask our position coaches, but I think overall we probably have a better understanding and can move quicker, but still do things starting from the ground up. 

Q: Teddy mentioned yesterday that the night practice tomorrow is a different atmosphere, primetime but on a smaller scale. What are your thoughts?

A: I totally agree, especially when you're young coming in. I think you can only look at your personal experience. I remember my rookie year, the night game, it still is just practice but it does feel a little amped up and it kind of helps you get ready for the first preseason game and those help you get ready for the regular season. It all just kind of builds on itself.

Q: What kind of preparations are you and the defense making for Cincinnati?

A: Right now we are just focused on ourselves, focused on getting our defense, our offense, our special teams the way we want to play and then just going and putting that on the field. There's not a whole lot of game plan on things going on in the preseason, we just want to learn our fundamentals and do our basic defense, basic offense, basic special teams the right way.

Q: So the playbook will be a little more vanilla in the preseason game?

A: I can't totally speak on that because I'm not calling the plays but in the past, generally the preseason, you're trying to do what you do, you're not trying to game plan other teams

Q: What do you see from Jayron Kearse so far in camp?

A: He is a very talented guy. He can do everything well and he's getting better every day, so we are lucky to have him.

Q: What do you look for in a younger player?

A: Once again I'm not a talent evaluator, I just play. If you are here, you pretty much have the physical attributes to be here and he's [Kearse] a guy who wants to learn things. Asks all the right questions and, especially at safety, that's what you need to have.* *

Q: From a veteran's perspective, what are you seeing from Stefon Diggs so far entering his second season?

A: He's getting better and better. He's always had that wiggle, runs really good routes, gets defenders kind of off a little bit. Great hands, he made a spectacular catch the other day, so you know he was great last year and is just getting better.

Q: What happened yesterday on the play where you threw down Charles Johnson?

A: I didn't mean to throw him down like that. We try to take care of our guys. I told him after, 'My bad.' The speed of the game, stuff like that, doing a little too much. Those things happen, Charles knows I'm not out here trying to hurt anybody, just competing and that's how we are going to get better. Definitely try to take care of our guys.

Q: In terms of stopping the run this year, are you guys changing anything this year as a unit?

A: I think if everybody does their job, every defense we run is a sound defense. If each guy does their job, holds up their end of the bargain, and plays physical, then we should be okay. Got to run to the ball, that's a big thing.

Q: What are you hoping to get out of practicing Cincinnati next week?

A: Along the same lines of this night practice, that's the next step, we get to go play against an opponent. Things ramp up a little bit. Guys are competitive, we'll be going at it, they'll be going at it. You get a taste of something else besides your own teammates. It just ramps up the competition a little bit more. 

Q: Are you disappointed that you won't be able to line up against your boy Tyler Eifert?

A: Yeah, we used to go against each other in practice back in the day at Notre Dame. I wasn't happy to see him get dinged up in the Pro Bowl. Hopefully he'll get better and he'll be back out there.

Q: Any reaction to Brett Favre and Tony Dungy entering the HOF?

A: Any Viking that goes into the Hall of Fame, I'm obviously happy about. I don't know either of those guys, but I've admired both of them for a long time. I think as players coming up we should learn a little bit about players who came before us and what they did. Not only players but coaches, GMs and owners. The more we can learn about those guys I think is just better to show respect for them.

Q: What has Teddy Bridgewater and the offense gotten better at since they've been down here?

A: First of all, Teddy has thrown some great footballs all over the field. That's one thing that just jumps out. He's also done a great job moving us safeties, looking us off. He's just adding nuances to his game that's going to help us a lot. The receivers are part of that equation as well. It all works together. The run game has got to be good to help the pass game and they're doing good things right now. I think going against them and competing is just going to make things better.

Q: Does it ever get difficult for you, communication wise, when the player next to you is changing?

A: No, it's never been like that. As long as you know what you're doing, you're definitely going to communicate with the guy across from you and you always get each other on the same page. If I miss something, they'll say it and vice versa. We both are on the same page communicating, everything goes smoothly and that's how it's always been there.

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