*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
It will be fun to get out in pads today. We've got a few drills to get after a little bit. It's been a long time since we've got in there and so we get to play a little bump and run on the outside so it'll be good for the receivers and the DB's [defensive backs] to get some work in that.
Q: Was Stefon Diggs the most pleasant surprise of 2015?
A: Danielle Hunter was a pretty good surprise, too. But he's done a great job. He's been a good kid. He works real hard and he wants to be really good.
Q: What have you seen from Terence Newman so far?
A: He looks like he always does. Very intelligent, smart, helping a lot of the other guys. When we get into the press today he'll start looking even better but he's gotten beat on a couple balls like they all have.
Q: Have you seen any difference in him from years past now that he is going to be 38?
A: I really don't see too much difference. He's the same guy. He works the same. I haven't seen that much, no.
Q: Did you think that he wouldn't be back after last season?
A: I wasn't sure and I texted him and there was no doubt that he wanted to come back and play. I didn't get a chance to see him when he left so I just texted him and he said 'Yeah, can't wait.'
Q: How has Scott Crichton looked after moving to defensive tackle?
A: Pretty good so far. He's been out for a long time but he did some good things yesterday and we'll see how it goes today when we get the pads on but I've been impressed with him.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of a player moving inside to defensive tackle?
A: Things happen a lot quicker in there. You get blocks from a lot of different angles both ways. That's kind of what we envisioned when we drafted him, a guy that might be a swing guy that can slide inside and some of the rushes and go from there. But his best opportunity to make the team is inside.
Q: What is it about him [Crichton] that made the organization think he'd be good in that type of role?
A: In college, he played real hard and did a lot of dirty work. He was going all the time. He was a very productive player. When we drafted him, we thought he might be an end with moving in on nickel rush ability but I think he's more inclined to be an all the time inside player that can slide out once in awhile.
Q: What are the advantage of having the ability to slide Brian Robison inside?
A: Just things we look at. He's got a lot of quickness inside against guards and he's a really good athlete in there. His athletic ability shows up even more so than when he's at end. The standing up part as we progress is just something we'll do with him.
Q: Can he rush based on what he sees at the line of scrimmage?
A: Yeah, he does a good job. I think he's able to see a lot more things. Yeah, you're right.
Q: What are some factors or reasons that made you say Matt Kalil is playing the best you've seen him play?
A: We've changed his technique some. I don't want to get too complicated but he was turning too soon a lot. It's about staying square. He's doing a better job with that.
Q: Did you notice the changes after Tony Sparano came in?
A: We've been working on it. It doesn't come over night and he had some slip-ups that he reverted to but you've got to just keep going back and going.
Q: How does Everson Griffen's speed help Kalil?
A: Everson does have great speed and great quickness off the ball. That's a good matchup over time. Those two get a lot of work in. We try to get the offensive lineman to do this, turn the shoulders and then you can beat him underneath or if they're slow off and beat them on the corner. It's about timing and when they punch and which hand they punch with first.
Q: How has Danielle Hunter looked coming out of the three-point stance?
A: Pretty good. We'll probably stand him up at some point but in the spring everybody was standing up doing stuff and I just got mad one day.
Q: It seems like Adam Thielen has an increased role each year, what is that a product of?
A: Adam is a productive player when he gets in there, he does things really well. He's smart, he can play a lot of positions. So I think he's one of those guys that the more you can do the more success you have and the more opportunities that you get.
Q: Is that the advantage of having him [Theilen] and Stefon Diggs on the field at the same time; that you can move them around?
A: Yeah, we can do that. But we can do it with most of our guys. Like when somebody gets hurt, Adam can go in and play any position and he knows all the spots.
Q: What has impressed you about the young running backs?
A: It'll be interesting to find out. I've been impressed with [Jhurell] Pressley on some of the things. He's got to do better on pass protection, he's quick getting to the corner. I think [CJ] Ham has done a good job. We're going to find out more when they get in pads. How they carry with pads; if they're carrying them too high, dancing into the hole. For young running backs, blitz pickup is always the number one thing, so they can protect the quarterback. It's at least as important as running with the football.
Q: Are there any running backs on the roster whose pass protection you are satisfied with?
A: Well Matt [Asiata] does a good job in protection. Jerick [McKinnon] is getting better, Adrian [Peterson] keeps working at it. It's just something you've got to work at. Part of it is knowing who to block because defenses are always trying to fool you. Secondly, sometimes they might have a fake run and they've got to abort the fake and they've got to go to the backside and pick somebody up. Sometimes they may have two guys in protection so they might have this guy and if he doesn't come he's got to go to the other guy. Sometimes they're up against bigger guys. So there's a lot of things about knowing who to block and then also there's the technique of blocking them.
Q: During practice do you have officials stop the play if there is going to be a sack?
A: No, not really. We're trying to stay away from the quarterback. One time yesterday we jumped offsides on defense and Teddy [Bridgewater] took a shot down the field. One time he avoided the rush and threw the post to Jarius [Wright] but I think he might have avoided that one anyways.
Q: Would it help the quarterback understand the timing if the play were to stop?
A: Well I think he understands. I think he understands that part of it. There's been some times which have just been quick five and let loose too.
Q: Has the deep ball been an emphasis during camp?
A: Well we knew we had all you guys here and we wanted to make sure you saw some. Sometimes it's just based on coverage or based on different things. Teddy has been working on throwing the deep ball and it's just something else to work on. We work on screens, work on crossing routes, short throws, quick throws.
Q: What is something you can use in camp that will help you improve your two-minute offense?
A: I don't want to get too specific but there's some things we talk about. We haven't had a two-minute drill yet. As we get into that we'll get to some of that a little bit more. I don't want to get too specific but I think there's some things we can do. Some of that, when I say we haven't been good in two-minute, some of it has been we were fortunate enough to be ahead in a lot of games and we were playing to protect the clock. But there were some times in the second quarter of games that we allowed people to score which is disappointing, we can't do that.
Q: What things are you expecting from your young group of linebackers?
A: Well I'm expecting a lot out of [Anthony] Barr and [Eric] Kendricks. The guy that's been impressive to me has been Edmond Robinson. He's a big guy that can run, he's physical, he learns, he's a good kid. I think he keeps improving all the time. I think he's got a chance to be a good football player, I think he'll show up a lot in these preseason games.
Q: What are the biggest issues for tall safeties like Jayron Kearse?
A: The biggest is transition. When tall guys have to drop down to break sometimes they end up taking an extra step in their break. So that's something that he's got to work on that I've talked to him about. I've had 6-4 guys before and it's understanding your body position and making sure that you are over your knees so that you can break forward and to be able to turn and open and break backwards.
Q: What about tackling?
A: Sometimes, it's still being under control. The height for that part, unless the guy is a waist-bender, then it's not really an issue.
Q: Is Emmanuel Lamur a guy you could see making an impact?
A: Yeah I do, he's a good player. I don't know how long I had him but he's a good kid. He's real smart, he understands the system really good. He's a very, very good athlete. We're continuously trying to find more ways to use him as well.
Q: What has been your impression of Trae Waynes so far?
A: He seems a lot more comfortable in everything he's doing. I've been working with him quite a bit trying to get him to finish plays a little bit better. I think that's what he needs to do. He's been really close on a lot of times. Like there was a play yesterday, kind of a crossing route instead of going in front of the receiver to try and knock the ball down he tries to go behind it and he gets shielded by the receiver's body. So it's those things he has to continue to go. I think he's done better getting out of his breaks. The kid has got great acceleration. I actually asked him what he thought his best asset was yesterday and from there that conversation went to how can we use your assets better than we are right now. So that's something we're working on right now. So today will be a little different because we start pressing. Typically the first day you press with defensive backs is probably not going to be pretty but that's okay it's supposed to happen.
Q: Are you seeing a lot of competition between your tight ends?
A: Yeah. I think David Morgan has done a really nice job. When Rhett [Ellison] gets back, we'll have quite a bit of competition. Kyle's [Carter] been doing a good job catching the ball and I'll find out today how much better he's doing with run game and blocking. [MyCole] Pruitt, I think, has improved. We'll see how he [Pruitt] does running and blocking today.
Q: Is there a certain situation you want to see Captain Munnerlyn at safety?
A: Not really, we can say he's a safety and he might be playing back some, but he's not really a safety. Does that make sense? It's part of coverage.
Q: Where is Keith Baxter?
A: He's in the hospital.
*Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater *
I'm excited for this afternoon when I get to come out and put the pads on. That's when the real football starts. Everything we did in the spring up until this point doesn't mean a thing if we don't out there execute and play fast. It's going to be a fun day especially upfront with the offensive linemen. We've been down here in Mankato for about four days now and the Minnesota State University facilities are off the charts. Every year we come down here I'm excited. You know the fans are here. That's a great atmosphere and it lets you know that football is back. We're excited. We have a short training camp ahead of us and that just means that we have to make every day count. We can't have any days that we're taking a step back. That's Coach Zimmer's message. There are no excuses this year. We have to continue to hold each other accountable and play Viking football.
Q: How can Laquon Treadwell help you offensively this year?
A: He's going to help us out a lot. There's a reason we drafted him in the first round. He has good size and a big catch radius. If you look back at Coach (Norv) Turner's track record from back in the day, he's had those big receivers that would go across the middle and do different things. Laquon will remain a student of the game and learn from guys in that room.
Q: Is the deep ball something you've worked on coming into training camp?
A: It's just taking what the defense is giving me. It is part of my progression and it goes back to me having that aggressive mentality while being relaxed physically. You know I'm physically relaxed, but my mindset is be aggressive and attack and take what the defense is giving me.
Q: How do you get a sense of timing in practice when sacks aren't a possibility?
A: It's all about playing in rhythm. As long as you're playing in rhythm, what's going on around you doesn't even matter. You know when you hit that fifth step the ball should be out. When you hit that seventh step the ball should be out. So, having that clock in your head factors out the pass rush.
Q: What do you see out of Adam Thielen?
A: Adam is a guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder. You know we had someone ask him the other day, 'how many stars did you have coming out of high school?' and he said that he had NR (Not Rated) next to his name. He comes from here, Mankato, Minnesota State University. He's a Minnesota resident, so it means a lot to him to wear the purple and gold. So every year that we've been out here he's been making progress. That's what you want to see in the guys. Each year, each day, you're taking advantage of the days and making progress.
Q: Does playing in rhythm take time for you to develop?
A: It doesn't take time. You know as long as you're playing in a rhythm, you trust what happening. Sometimes you want to see things happen, but when you're seeing things that means you're too late. You've got to anticipate those throws and trust that your guy is going to be in the right place at the right time. That's what it all comes down to.* *
Q: On the seven step drops, what is your new comfort level now compared to when you came in?
A: Honestly we've been doing seven step drops since I got here. My comfort level is pretty much what it's been since three years ago. I was very comfortable three years ago and I just have more experience in the system now. I know what to expect when plays are called. I know which guy we're trying to get the ball to and things like that, so seven step drops is just something that comes natural to us in this system.
Q: How hard is it to get used to those drops while you're here at training camp?
A: It's just a natural thing. If you play in rhythm, the rest takes care of itself.
Q: Are you at the point where you think the timing throws are going to be there?
A: Yeah, I'm definitely at that point. I'm going to continue to get better in that field and all the other fields I feel like I need work in. The coaching staff has done a great job working with us so far and I just have to continue to play fast.
Q: Who ended up showing up to part two of the 'Teddy Two Gloves Passing Academy?'
A: I had Cordarrelle (Patterson), Stefon (Diggs), MyCole (Pruitt). Kyle (Rudolph) had a bunch of weddings to go to that week. Charles Johnson got married that week. Adam (Thielen) came down, and Isaac Fruechte came down. So, it was a pretty decent group.
Q: Was that in July?
A: Yeah, it was in July. It was very hot. We were down in Miami. Now you hear the guys talk about the heat here, and it's like, 'Man, it's nothing compared to what we were dealing with when we were in Miami.' It was great to get those guys down there, get those guys in a different environment, and as you can tell, I feel like we haven't taken a step backward.
Q: Are you surprised by how popular that 'Hey Teddy' song has become? Do you find yourself humming it sometimes?
A: Every time my mom sees me, she says, 'Hey Teddy, hey Teddy.' Every time one of my family members sees me, that's the first thing they say, but no one can sing it like Obadiah. It was a great experience, and it is a catchy phrase.
Q: What have you thought about the young running backs at camp?
A: All those guys are doing a great job for us and just doing what the coaching staff is asking of them, and right now, I feel like the guys are playing fast; and that's what's going to be big for us, just playing fast and reacting to what you see.
Q: Going back to Laquon Treadwell, he has been staying after practices and working on his catches and his reaction time. Is that encouraging as a quarterback to see that in a young wide receiver?
A: Definitely. Whenever anyone is staying behind, putting in the extra work, that just shows that the game means something to them. They want to be the best at what they're doing. We have a bunch of guys who stay behind to catch Jugs. Some guys are running gassers and do different things to work on the little things that are going to make them a better football player. So, it's exciting to see all the guys when you walk off the field, and you can turn around and see a group of 15 guys, 20 guys, staying behind and just working on the small things.* *
Q: Having Charles Johnson back healthy, how much does he elevate this group of receivers?
A: Charles, he, (Stefon) Diggs, Cordarrelle (Patterson), all those guy, they help elevate all those guys' game, because each one of those guys do something different. When you put the tape on, it's like, 'Man, how'd you do that?' And now, Charles is telling Cordarrelle how he did one thing. Now, Cordarrelle can implement that into his game, or vice versa. So, it's a group that challenges each other. They help each other, and they're going to be big for us this year.
Q: How long do you think it'll take the offensive line, with all the changes there in personnel and coach, to gel together?
A: I've been pretty impressed with what I've been seeing. I think the guys up front, they get the message that competition is going to make the team better, so I'm excited for that group. Like I said, they get to put the pads on this afternoon, and they get to quiet some of that noise, some of the chatter that has been going on. I can't wait to see those guys compete.
Q: How has Matt Kalil looking? Coach Zimmer spoke really well of him the other day.
A: If you heard from Coach Zimmer, then he's obviously doing a good job. I'm not here to – like I said in the spring – I'm not here to judge players or anything like that, but if it's coming from the head coach, then it obviously means something.
Q: What do you think about the variety of things your tight ends can do, and how does that help you?
A: It helps a lot. All those guys are unique players. There's something about all those guys that stands out, and it's a great group. Those guys have been working extremely hard, just trying to be detailed players, whether it's in the run game or the passing game. And those guys also want to understand what the quarterback is thinking. You always hear that the tight end is the quarterback's best friend, and we have a group of guys here who think like quarterbacks. They want to know, 'Hey, why are you not throwing this? And if you're not throwing this, then what's your second read in the progression? And having those kind of players on your team is very helpful, because you have a second pair of eyes on the field. When you come off the field, on the sideline, you get to talk to those guys and see what they saw.