Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
We had a good meeting with their coaching staff last night. Today, we've got about 12 of our players and 12 of their players going to get together before practice to talk about respecting each other, doing this thing the right way. Trying to get a lot of good work done against a really, really good football team. It will be great evaluation for our young guys, great evaluation for us, kind of where we are at and kind of go from there.
Q: What spurred having the players meet to talk before practice?
A: I have a group of guys that I typically meet with and yesterday we just happened to meet and one of them suggested it. I thought it was a good idea. We talked to their guys and they are going to get their guys together. Jacksonville, Coach [Doug] Marrone and myself and the rest of our team, we really don't want to end up on TV like some of these other things that have been going on. We just want to get out here and get some work done and try to get each of us better.
Q: Are you satisfied with what you get out of these joint practices?
A: At some point, you've been going against yourself for 12 days now or something. It starts to get a little bit stale. You get the same routine. I think the intensity level will be up a little bit because guys are going up against each other. We're not trying to prove who are the toughest guys and I'm sure they're not either. We are going to see different techniques than we've seen, we are going to see different plays, how we react. Plays we haven't prepared for really, blitzes we may not be prepared for and see if our rules hold up to all of those things.
Q: How as a coach do you see the in-game situations and adjustments help you prepare better?
A: We try to do it a lot. We are going to do it again with these guys. The thing they tell me is when they get in those situations in the game, they feel like they've already been there before. So it's not everything not totally new.
Q: Is there anything about Jacksonville's defense is similar to what you do?
A: They're four down front but they're different defensively. Their defense is very similar to Seattle, to San Francisco, a lot of the teams we are going to play this year. Fast. Their defensive line I think lead the League in sacks last year. They were second in the League, defensively. They're pretty darn good.
Q: Do you have any impressions of Taven Bryan, their first round pick?
A: I'm not going to talk about their players. I can barely talk about mine.
Q: How have you seen Brian O'Neill grow since you've drafted him?
A: When we came out here in the spring and kept the rookies out here longer, that was a process for him. I think it's really starting to help. Yesterday and the day before he's had a couple really good days of practice on some of the things he was doing in the rookie camp that we've been trying to correct. To me, that has shown a lot of improvement. He still has a ways to go on some of the things. He is really, really good at getting in the second level in the running game. Obviously, there are some other things he has to work at. I've been impressed with how he has improved in some of the pass protection things, from what he was doing in OTAs.
Q: You mentioned Brian O'Neill looked over the last few days. Does that have anything to do with him taking reps with the first team?
A: No, I don't think so. I just think the technique looks a lot better to me.
Q: You mentioned Jacksonville plays a different style of defense with an emphasis on turnovers. Is there anything you can learn from Jacksonville's defense and how they approach the game?
A: Well, we're definitely paying attention to what they're doing and how they're doing things. We can always learn to figure a better way to do stuff. That's really what the whole offseason is for. You're going to study other teams and they're going to study you, if you're good. We're not above stealing.
Q: With Dalvin Cook the next couple of days how can a joint practice help him prepare for game speed?
A: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is the intensity is going to be a little higher than probably a normal practice. I think that'll be part of it. I don't think it's quite game-like speed, but it'll be up tempo pretty good.
Q: How did you decide to have joint practices with them, besides the fact that they were on your schedule?
A: They called me and asked me and I asked them why they wanted to. So I figured they're a good team let's go ahead and do it.
Q: Was the old facility equipped for joint practices?
A: No. I don't think so. We only had a field and three-quarters over there. They're going to use these two fields for individuals and our defense and their offense will be on this field today and then on the far field over by the bleachers it'll be our offense and they're defense and then some of the one-on-ones – offensive line, defensive line stuff will be over there on this third field like we did yesterday or the day before.
Q: Will this be a common theme every year?
A: I don't know. We'll see how it goes. I mean I like preparing like we prepare usually but this might be a little, I don't know what you call it, respite but of how we're doing this. If it does and people act the right way and do the right things then it might be a really good thing where we continue to do it. I always want to go to Cincinnati and do it so I can go to my place, but other than that we'll see how this goes.
Q: Do players ramp up the intensity seeing another team as opposed to seeing their teammates?
A: Yeah. It'll definitely be ramped up a little bit just because they're going against somebody they haven't seen before. That's just a part of sports. You get out there against somebody else you want to compete. We want to compete. I'm not saying we don't want to compete but we want to compete in the right way and we're going to have the NFL officials out here today. Doug is going be on one field and I'm going to be on one field and I think we'll be able to control things pretty well.
Q: Is there anything else you want to see from Dalvin Cook in these practices potentially if he's going to play this Saturday?
A: I don't know if he's going to play this Saturday or not. But not really. The only thing we're trying to do is each day we're trying to stack on a few more plays, few more days in a row. That's really what we're really trying to do, is trying to get him in game ready shape.
Vikings Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs
Q: What do you want to get out of these practices with the Jacksonville Jaguars?
A: It is exciting, one to go against someone else. Going against the same defense, it doesn't get tiring, but gets repetitive You want to get some good work based off of going against someone else and learning things. Going against someone else gives you a different outlook as far as asking them questions and what they see. Going against your defense see the same stuff year to year, but going against somebody else you can really get a good grind out of it and a learning experience. You can start working on things and making sure everything is there and doing it right.
Q: Did being in shells yesterday help in terms of when you see another opponent that you may not see with your defense?
A: Yes, from a standpoint, but that is an everyday thing. You try to work your fundamentals, pads or no pads. Shells are just like throwing a bone as far as how camp is. We try to lock in on the fundamentals more than anything. Going against someone else you really want to do that, repeat the same routine, not doing anything different. Go out and handle your business.
Q: Going in today, did you watch any film on Jacksonville to prepare?
A: Yeah, preparing for your opponent, they are still your opponent you want to be prepared.t As far as watching the tape you want to see what they do, what they play, how they like to play. All in all, it is still practice and you want to get the most out of it.
Q: Are you disappointed that Jalen Ramsey won't be here?
A: Yeah, he is a great corner. We were looking forward to going against him. All of those guys in the back end, they have a good secondary. On tape, they look great as far as last year and how far they went. They went just as far as us. They have had success and their defense was their stronghold, so we were looking forward to it but, it will come in time.
Q: Is there any player in particular that you are looking forward to going against?
A: No, not really. It doesn't really matter to me.
Q: What is your opinion on the new rules with lowering your helmet? Does it have any impact on the game?
A: Yeah, in my favor a little bit. As far as DBs it is definitely getting way harder and I understand from their standpoint. I saw a couple tackles in games and it was a close call but, they are erring on the side of caution so, playing by the rules will be just a little bit harder than usual. But, I don't tackle so I am not getting into all of that.
Q: From a personal standpoint, do you like when there are more of these points of emphasizes?
A: No, I don't care. As far as going across the middle and getting hit I don't shy away from any contact. It doesn't really matter to me. I'd rather someone hit me on top actually because, as a receiver, you want your legs so as far as you put them in an awkward position where they are going to have to chop guys down and I'd rather have someone hit me up top. I'd rather take the shot.
Q: What have the coaches told you to make sure these practices don't get too chippy?
A: We came in to work. That's the number one thing, we came here to work, we came here to get things done. So as far as anything extra, we're not interested in.
Q: Is there anything specific you learned about A.J. Bouye from the film you watched?
A: He's a good player. I've been watching him since he was at the Texans. I have a good friend that plays for the Texans. He's always been a good player. As far as specifically, he's athletic. He can move, so I look forward to going against him.
Q: What have you seen with Laquon Treadwell here this training camp?
A: Laquon is locked in. I'm not saying he wasn't locked in before but he's ready to go. He's been preparing the right way and same old stuff. He's doing things the right way.
Q: Are you getting to the point in training camp where the cornerbacks know the routes you're running?
A: It is at that point. For us, any receiver in our room, no matter if it's camp, practice, training, we hate to lose no matter how you dress it up. When it comes to winning, we don't have an excuse, if they know what you've got or don't know what you've got, you got to win.
Q: Even if it's the same guys day after day after day?
A: I would say that because on Sundays you only see people one time a year or maybe twice a year. As far as the approach, it's the same. For us, we don't make any excuses as far as going in, we just want to win. No matter how we have to do what we have to do, just win. Keep it simple.
Q: Do you feel like early on in John DeFilippo's scheme you've seen the ball come to you further down the field? Kirk Cousins mentioned how it's good to have players that can run those complimentary routes.
A: Kirk [Cousins] is just a great quarterback as far as his approach to the game and how he comes out each and every day ready to work. As a receiver, me, Adam [Thielen] and Laquon [Treadwell], everybody in that room, we pride ourselves in being able to run everything. You want to be able to run everything and do everything for the quarterback, as far as going deep and going short, whatever you need. Let's get it done.
Q: What stands out about Kirk Cousins when he's in play-action type situations?
A: He can spin it. He can throw the deep ball really, really well and, you know, I like to run.
Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen
Q: What does practicing against another team do for you?
A: Well I think it's good. Going against the same defense, same scheme, same players every day, at some point it gets a little old. But I think it will be good just to kind of break it up and see the different faces, see different schemes, and see a different defense and compete at probably a little bit more of a pace just because you're going against a different colored jersey.
Q: Is there something that you've seen on tape that made Jacksonville the top ranked passing defense in the league last year?
A: Their secondary, that's what stuck out on tape to me. That's what I look for. The way that they were covering guys, every catch that you saw against them was contested. We have a lot of respect for those guys in the back end and what they've done. It's kind of a bummer that Jalen [Ramsey] is not here because he's such a great player and they're such a good duo [Ramsey and Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye], so it would have been fun to compete against them. But like I said, they're really good in the back end, and that's what you want as an offense.
Q: Does trash talk out on the field ever affect you?
A: It's all part of the game, it's all fun. We're out here, we put everything we got into this. I think that's just part of the game. You're competitive and the guy you're going against is competitive and it's going to come out. I love that about this game. I try not to let it get to me, that's for sure.
Q: Is it just specific players who trash talk or is that something you're going to get every game?
A: I think it's anybody. I think anybody that is a competitor wants to give you their best effort. I think when they make a good play, there's going to be a little jabber here and there. For us, it's just part of the game and we like to have fun with it.
Q: Who's the best trash-talker that you've gone up against?
A: I don't know, that's a great question. I really don't know.
Q: What is it like to practice against your own cornerbacks?
A: Our corner depth is unbelievable right now. You look at our outside guys, the guys in the slot, you're going to get a really good corner no matter where you're lined up. I love that. I know our receivers love that. When you go to a game, it makes you play a little freer. In practice you're getting held, they're all over you, every catch is contested. In a game it almost feels a little easier because it's maybe as not as contested, not as much grabbing going on, things like that. It's so good to go against a good defense every single day, obviously one of the best in the NFL. It's going to help us in the long run.
Q: You feel like you know the style of John DeFilippo's offense at this point or are you still curious to see how the game planning and play calling with unfold?
A: It's a little bit of both, because obviously there wasn't too much of a sample size from the preseason game to really understand how he's going to call plays and things like that. But we have a pretty good idea. We know his personality, we know how he has been calling plays out here and in our different situations. I think that's something that obviously Coach Zimmer does a great job with, is putting us in game-like situations and that stuff comes out. It's another opportunity to figure out what he's going to call in certain situations on certain down and distances, things like that and against certain coverages as well. We're starting to figure it out, that's why it's so great to be out here in practice. It's why you have to take advantage of OTAs and then training camp.
Q: Does knowing Jacksonville produced turnovers last year change your approach to these practices?
A: It doesn't change the approach, but it kind of goes back to what I said before. When you watch them on tape, there's so many contested catches. There's not a whole lot of open guys just catching the ball and turning and running. I think that's what led to turnovers. When there are contested catches and when there's a guy all over a guy when he's trying to catch the football, it usually leads to tipped balls and overthrows. Things like that are where you're getting your interceptions and turnovers from. Like I said, they're all over the ball, they're a fast defense from the defensive line to the back end. It's going to be a challenge these next couple of days.
Q: What do you think makes Kirk Cousins such a good quarterback with play action passes, run fakes, and that sort of stuff?
A: I don't evaluate the quarterback too much. I'm mostly watching what I'm doing and trying to get open. But from my perspective, I guess it would probably just be the fact that he can just make all the throws and that he's a smart enough guy to know where to go with certain coverages, certain situations. When he needs to check the ball down, when he needs to take a shot. That's stuff that sometimes goes unseen, but when you're around him every day, you see it. You see his mind set. When we do the situational stuff at the end of practices, you see that stuff really come out.
Q: What certain pressures do RPOs put on cornerbacks that you're facing and can you see different reactions from them?
A: Yes, I think it just makes them have to cover the whole game. A lot of times when you don't have RPOs and you're blocking, it's kind of a playoff for the corner sometimes. Now it just makes them have to cover all game, have to be alert and ready for any situation, any time of the game. Whether it be a four minute drive or first play of the game, they have to be locked in and ready to go.
Q: What are you hoping to get out of this preseason game that you maybe did not get out of the first preseason game?
A: Honestly, my mindset doesn't change. I think you treat every game the same. Whether it's a regular season, preseason, or out here at training camp practice. You're trying to win every route and try to put stuff on tape that looks really good. Like I said, I don't think any mindset changes. I think if you do start to change your mindsets and say, "Oh well, it's only a preseason game," or things like that, then that's when you don't perform well. For me, I try to treat every practice, rep, every pre-season game, just like I would a game. Usually that makes it a little bit easier on game day when you've already been going full speed and taking advantage of those reps all of training camp and preseason.
Q: Does practicing against an opponent in a joint practice have any carry over into the game that follows?
A: Yes, it's kind of like when you go against your defense for so many times, you have to change things up. You might beat them one time with a certain move or certain way you ran a route. Then they go watch film with their coach, and say, "Okay, this is what you need to do better," then they usually cover it pretty well the second time. You definitely have to switch things up. It's just like in a game though. It's so game-like. There are times in a game you're going to run the same route and if you won the first time, you're going to have to switch it up a little bit. Otherwise, he's going to be all over it. It's very game-like situation to have to switch up your routes and switch up the way you win.