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Transcript: Zimmer and Sugarman Addressed the Media Tuesday

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

We watched the tape, quickly, then we got moving on to Green Bay. I thought there was some really good things. Our guys fought hard. The second half, offensively, was much better than the first half, obviously. I thought the offensive line played much better in the second half. We made some plays. Had two good scoring drives. Defensively, I thought we played fairly solid. We made some mistakes, obviously, we got a lot of cleaning up to do in some other areas. Overall, it was a good win. Any time you can win a division game on the road, I think it's important.

Q: How difficult is it to work around the uncertainty of Sam Bradford's injury?

A: It's not difficult, we just go each day.    

Q: Is it possible Bradford plays this Sunday?

A: We don't know yet, we'll see. Didn't Eric [Sugarman] talk to you guys? He said he's going to check to see how he's going to do tomorrow and we'll see where he goes from there.

Q: What does the resiliency of the defense bring to this team?

A: Especially the last two games, I've really noticed this group on the sideline, the energy, the enthusiasm that they have. I guess belief is a good word. The things that they're doing, I think they feel confident in what we're trying to do. I think George [Edwards] is doing a nice job with the defensive guys. We've been very fortunate on third downs, we've been pretty good in that area. That always helps to not extend drives.

Q: Did Jerick McKinnon show you something last night?

A: Yeah, I thought he ran the ball well. I thought it was really big, he fumbled on the kickoff, and then came back and gets some big yards there, 58-yard touchdown. I thought it was good, showed his resiliency coming back after the fumble.

Q: How will you approach the running back position going forward?

A: Each week is going to be a different week, what we feel like. [Latavius] Murray started out the game good. He had good runs early, he kind of tapered off a little bit. I think Jerick started off a little slow and then he got going towards the end. We'll just have to see how it goes as we continue to go forward.    

Q: What did you think of Case Keenum's performance?

A: Pretty good, 17 out of 21. Like all our guys, there's good things and things he can improve on.  

Q: Do you have a good sense of what Case Keenum can do?

A: Well, I think he's won two games, he showed he's had some good stuff on tape. I think the team believes when he comes in there he's going to go in there and play well and that's the most important thing.

Q: Does his mobility change what you might be willing to call?

A: Sometimes. I mean, we had some of those plays in for Sam too. It wasn't, 'Okay, if Sam doesn't go, this guy has this.' We had those plays in the gameplan.

Q: Xavier Rhodes was not thrown at last night, how often does that happen?

A: I don't know, I don't know if he got thrown at or not to be honest with you. I don't pay that close attention to those things.

Q: Will Teddy Bridgewater play this season?

A: I have belief that he will but he hasn't been on the field yet so it's hard to say. Didn't Sugarman tell you about that too?

Q: Against the Buccaneers Case Keenum had more deep passes and against the Bears he had more short passes. What was the difference with the way that the Bears approached Case?

A: They kind of did what they did. Coverage dictates that a lot of times. They were playing a different coverage than Tampa Bay did. I know everybody gets caught up in the shots and those things, but it's about taking what the defense gives you and try to take advantage of it. It was a different game, a different defense, just kind of how it works out sometimes.

Q: Where do you see Everson Griffen growing as a pass rusher?

A: Well he's really strong. He's got great power, speed to power. He's got a heck of spin move. He's got a long arm. I think the biggest thing with Everson is he's relentless in his rush. He believes he can win all the time and probably where he's grown most of is sticking to the rush plan. There's time where he can go out and beat guys, but because of the way that we're trying to rush certain quarterbacks, he might power them down a little bit more, sit at the quarterback, as opposed to try to beat his guy one on one.

Q: How important is it for Everson Griffen to stick to that rush plan this week?

A: Yes, well it's important. You can see what he can do when he gets out of the pocket. You see what he does when he's in the pocket, too. That guy's an unbelievable player. We'll have to play really good.

Q: Is Aaron Rodgers your favorite quarterback to game plan against? When you beat him in the past, he's always given you credit.

A: No. No, he is not my favorite one. There has been a lot of favorites, but they're not playing in the NFL anymore.

Q: Anthony Barr played with a lot of emotion last night. Has he began to be more vocal and more of a leader?

A: Yes, I thought Anthony played very well. I've noticed more the last two weeks he's played with a real fire of trying to get to the ball, rushing, all the different things - physicality, making plays. I think he's starting to see himself more as a dominant play-making kind of guy. The offenses are really trying to take him out of the game as much as they can now. I see it on tape all the time.

Q: Is this a consistent of a five-game stretch as you've seen with Anthony Barr?

A: No. He's played good a lot. This is his fourth year, because I drafted him first. He plays good all the time.

Q: How did Stefon Diggs come out of the game health-wise?

A: I don't know. We'll have to see how it goes tomorrow.

Q: Any concern about Nick Easton's injury?

A: Same.

Q: Is that the best Nick Easton has looked so far?

A: No, I don't think so. I think he's played pretty good most weeks. So, I don't know if that is the best he's looked or the medium he's looked. Quite honestly, I'm not going to evaluate players in the media. I will evaluate the players when they are sitting in this room. When you ask me how did so-and-so play, I'm not going to evaluate them to the media. We all can do better, I can do better, they can do better. They do good and they do bad.

Vikings Director of Sports Medicine / Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman

We're not dealing with a ligament injury with Sam. We're not dealing with a bone bruise from a direct hit. Sam has wear and tear in his knee joint, and these injuries are very difficult to manage and treat. You're going to ask when Sam is going to be back, and one day at a time, really like all players. We're going to look at Sam tomorrow and evaluate him. At this point, I'm not here to speculate when Sam may or may not be back. I do think it's important for me to mention that yesterday and always we were all on the same page, with 'Should Sam play or should Sam not play?' The question is, 'How do we come up with that evaluation?' Basically it's on a player's exam and on a player's function. It's a collaborative decision always. The player has a vote, the medical staff has a vote, the head coach, the coaching staff, the GM and together, collaboratively, we decide if a player is able to function and do his job or not. I think it's very important — I've known most of you now for more than a decade — we would never put a player on the field that we thought could not protect himself. That's really important for me to mention. Sam at some point yesterday obviously aggravated his knee. I can't give you a specific play or instance when it happened, but I will tell you today that we did get a new MRI, and thankfully he has no additional injury. We're dealing with the same thing, which is good news for Sam and for everybody.

Q: Have you had other players deal with this?

A: All of the time. We have guys that have wear and tear in joints from their toe, to knee, to elbow, to shoulder all of the time.

Q: Long-term prognosis?

A: I'm going to see Sam tomorrow, evaluate where he's at and do my best to help him get better as fast and safe as possible. I'm not going to speculate on the future or down the road.

Q: It is something from which he could fully recover?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Was the knee weakened from previous surgeries?

A: I'm not going to say the knee was weakened. That's probably not accurate, but certainly it has to do with having had two ACLs in that knee, so certainly that's a contributing factor.

Q: Before he aggravated it, was there concern that he wasn't ready to play or protect himself?

A: I don't think there's any percentage that we would put him on the field, either the medical staff or the coaching staff or Vikings organization if we felt that he couldn't protect himself. We go through this all of the time, every week, with multiple players and make these decisions, and Sam was no different.

Q: Early in the game he did not look comfortable. From your perspective, it was not because of the knee?

A: It's my job to be in constant communication with the players and coach at all times. I'm sure that you saw me go over to Sam a bunch of times, after every series, actually, and check with him. It's my job to watch the injured players, and he felt like he was able to continue to play. When we got to the point where we didn't feel like he could protect himself, we took him out of the game.

Q: Who made the final call to pull him from the game?

A: It's a collaborative effort. I'm constantly in communication with Coach Zimmer, the medical staff and I'm the voice of the medical staff on the sideline. You communicate with Coach all of the time. It's a team effort.

Q: Is a brace common in this situation?

A: The brace is called an unloader brace, so the brace actually unloads the part of the knee joint that has the stress, and that's why he wears the brace.

Q: Was there a difference in the second opinion?

A: It was the same exact diagnosis.

Q: How did it happen? Was it a misstep against the Saints?

A: It happened in Week 1. I don't know if it was a misstep. He showed me the play. I can't regurgitate it to you, but he got his knee in a funny angle and aggravated the knee joint. That's where it all started.

Q: Is it hard to project readiness for game speed?

A: The one thing that we can't do as a medical staff is simulate a game. It's really hard. It happens, and that's what happened with Sam. It got to a point in the game, it got aggravated, and he just couldn't do it, so unfortunately with any of our players, we can't simulate the speed and the actual game.

Q: Is there swelling or fluid?

A: He has wear and tear in his knee joint.

Q: Is there a medical thing beyond what you're saying?

A: No, I'm just going to stay with that.

Q: Does that put him at-risk for arthritis and degenerative things down the road?

A: I think anyone that's had two ACLs is probably at-risk.

Q: Could he play this week?

A: I'm going to leave that stuff to Coach Zimmer. I'm not here to speculate on that. I'm just going to do the best as a medical staff. I'm going to see him tomorrow and try to get him better as fast and safe as possible.

Q: You said it's not a direct-impact bone bruise. Is there a different kind of bone bruise?

A: No, it was not a direct.

Q: Update on Teddy Bridgewater?

A: Teddy Bridgewater, the update I'll tell you is Teddy is working hard every day. You guys see him all of the time on the side [field]. He's working extremely hard, doing a great job. He's got one more week here where he's not allowed to participate. He will be re-evaluated by his surgeon next Monday, and then we're going to take it from there. That's the only thing I'm going to say about Teddy.

Q: Update on Dalvin Cook?

A: Dalvin Cook had his ACL repaired yesterday by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Florida. No real further damage in his knee, thankfully, a pretty straightforward ACL [injury], and I'd hope to expect him at training camp next year.

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