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Transcript: Zimmer, Priefer Address the Media

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

After looking at the tape from the game the other night, there were some areas that I was impressed with. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I thought we looked fast. We tackled better than I anticipated we'd tackle. I thought we were efficient offensively in the things that we did. And then there are some areas that we have to get better at – obviously having the three penalties on the corner, having 10 guys on the field on the PAT. We weren't as good overall on third downs and in the redzone as we needed to be. We're going to have to get better at some of the short yardage situations. Overall for the first time out, there were some things that you can really like. We didn't do the walk-thru this morning because we as coaches felt like it was more important to get through all the game tape, get all the corrections made, try to improve from there and then start getting going on Tampa Bay this week. Mostly this week is about continually trying for us to get better. We've got some things we have to get better at defensively, play action. We've got to continue to improve in the things that we have been working on offensively and defensively. There are some things that I still want to get installed.

Q: Danielle Hunter played a majority of snaps. Looking back what did you like about his game?

A: He had some good plays, some bad plays. He's got to come off the ball lower than what he is. He's not using his speed enough to threaten the offensive linemen. Right now he is raising up, he's been doing that for about a week, so we're trying to correct that. We've been working real hard on his angles, hand placements and things like that but we've got to get him to understand speed is what threatens them.

Q: How did Trae Waynes react after the game? What did you talk to him about?

A: He's fine. There's no issues. He's a good, competitive kid. I liked what I saw in a lot of things. Obviously the penalties weren't good, but he got into a couple of situations where he started reverting back to some of the college things. I am not worried about it at all and he was fine after the game.

Q: Did you feel like some of those penalties might have reinforced some of the things you tried to teach him?

A: The whole time when I have been talking to him out here a lot I said, "You can't do that, that's a penalty." So it was good for him. He would say, "Huh?" and I was like, "Yeah". They call it different in this league than they do in college football. The guy gave him a little lean outside and he bit hard on it and that does not bother me at all. I'd rather have him bite on it than be scared. He has a chance to be a very, very good player.

Q: Why didn't Captain Munnerlyn play at all?

A: That's a good question. We planned on him playing the 42 and Newman playing the nickel on third down and we didn't get any in that series. Then I pulled the rest of the guys out.

Q: What did you think of Brian Peters' performance? He had the interception, but missed a couple of tackles.

A: He missed two tackles. You can't take those away but if he wouldn't have done that, he would have had a good night. But he did some good things. He accelerated to the perimeter one time and he made a nice interception on the ball.

Q: Do you anticipate Anthony Barr being able to practice today?

A: I haven't heard from Sug (Eric Sugarman) yet today, but I think he's improved, yes.

Q: Is Zach Line going to practice?

A: I don't know. I haven't heard yet.

Q: What's ailing Zach Line?

A: Leg.

Q: What are your priorities for the last three days in Mankato?

A: We're going to do corrections on some of the things and then some of it is the areas that I felt like that we need to improve on. That's kind of what we're working on. We put some things into practice today to kind of work on those. We have to continue to move forward as well.

Q: With the extra week of preseason, are you going to be a little more cautious with Anthony Barr?

A: Yeah, I guess so. He was going to go through the walk-thru today if we had it, but he'll go through some individual today. We want him ready when we go to San Francisco, but we want to keep continuing to get him reps. He'll be alright.

Q: What has Justin Trattou  improved at the most in the last year?

A: He has improved a lot in almost all aspects. He's rushing the passer better. He's playing the run better. I think he understands exactly what we're trying to get done. He's had a good camp. He had a good night the other night as well. He got a lot of reps.

Q: How do you think some of the younger offensive linemen played the other night?

A: [Austin] Shepherd was efficient. [T.J.] Clemmings I thought had a good night. [Tyrus] Thompson needs to do better.

Q: Austin Shepherd was back at guard. Are you still trying to figure out the best spot for him?

A: Yeah. All of them but T.J. [Clemmings] played two spots.

Q: How far has Jabari Price come in this past year?

A: Good. It was good to see him the other night get out there. I thought he played well. He competed well. He got one double move and kind of got a little beat. Those are double moves we're going to have to start working on. For the most part I thought he did good. He didn't turn the ball in one time when he was supposed to. Overall I thought he played well.

Q: What did you see from the first unit offensive line, as far as their cohesion and communication?

A: I thought it went well. I thought they all did a good job. They competed, gave Teddy time in the pocket, did a good job in the runs. There is always things we want to get better. The things that we have been working on – there have been some things that we have been working extremely hard in this camp – it showed up in the game and that was what I really wanted to see. So now can we do it the next day? Can we do it the next day? Can we go to the next game and do that? That's kind of where we're at but two critical areas that I wanted to see I thought we did the other night. Pittsburgh [Steelers] had their first offensive line in except for the center, so that's a pretty good look.

Q: I saw MyCole Pruitt out there with the first unit early in the game. How has he progressed as a blocker?

A: He's improving as a blocker. He's built to possibly be a good kind of blocker because of his body type and his size. He's got work to do in that area but he has improved quite a bit.

Q: Run defense was a bit of an issue last year. How are you feeling about your nose tackles like Shamar Stephen and Linval Joseph?

A: Good. Shamar played very well the other night. Linval only had two plays because we had nickel on the third play, but he has had a really good camp. Like I said, I feel like we controlled the line of scrimmage the other night. That is important to me that on both sides of the ball it's important.

Q: You went youth-heavy with most of the played snaps the other night. How much are you going to mix some of the veteran guys in for longer stretches?

A: We will probably start playing a little longer, yes.

Q: Is it critical that you have a fullback on the roster with players like Ellison and maybe Pruitt?

A: It's not critical. They have to earn their spot just like every other position.

Q: Did anything stand out in the cornerback depth chart battle?

A: I kind of like Josh Thomas a little bit, some of the things he did. Jabari, [Price] I thought he did well. [DeMarcus] Van Dyke shows flashes of doing something, I'm talking about some down the line guys. I feel pretty good about the depth and the athletes that we're getting at that position.

Q: Did you look for anything different based on their age? For example, do you look at a player like Marcus Sherels different than a first year player?

A: I'm looking for the best 53 I can find. However that unfolds is whatever it is.

Q: With Mike Harris, do you feel like it is his job to lose going forward, just to help with cohesion on the offensive line?

A: I don't know about job to lose, but I think he's done a very good job since he's been in there. He's a fighter, he's tough, he's not perfectly sound all the time, but he will fight you and he's a big man. I've been pleased with him.

Q: What did you think of Tom Johnson's performance the other night? He might not have gotten the sacks, but he always seemed to be in the backfield.

A: He had a lot of pressure, he had some chances for some negative yardage plays, which is another thing we have been talking about a little bit, so we have changed up a few things we have been doing. He missed a couple of tackles in the backfield, otherwise he could've had a big night.

Q: Is the middle linebacker spot something that could be a little more situational with Audie Cole, Eric Kendricks or Gerald Hodges?

A: It could be, but that's how it was for us last year, a little bit situation-based as well. We are going to try to use each player to their strength the best we can and however we have to do it and we might have to substitute some guys in there for certain situations, but Audie did a good job the other night. There is something to be said about having tall linebackers. He tipped that one ball that ended up getting caught, but when the guys are 6'4", you have him and [Anthony] Barr in there, you have two big linebackers. It's harder to throw in the seams. The big guys who can run have a little bit more punch to them than the little guys who can run.

Q: Is that harder to find nowadays, the 6'4" big linebacker with today's NFL?

A: Yeah, with today's NFL there is so much throwing that they have to have some coverage ability. That's why Barr is so unique because he can do those things, plus he can pass rush. That's probably why he was the 9th pick he was.

Q: Last year you mentioned partway through the season that Linval Joseph need to do a better job of playing within the scheme. Have you noticed that he has been doing that through camp and in those two plays that he had the other night?

A: It's hard to judge on that. I don't believe I said playing within the scheme. I probably said he needed to use his hands a little bit better. I've been very impressed with him in this training camp and I anticipate as we go forward. The two plays he did, he did good, which is a small sample size. I don't know what Pro Football Focus had on it.

Q: With Danielle Hunter did he revert back to some of those LSU tendencies. How often do rookies do that in the first couple of games?

A: It's hard to say how much they do it. Did he do it some? Yeah, but he was working on some things. They all do it a little bit, yes. It's because they get under the lights, the crowd is there, it's different for them than being out at practice. That's kind of why I had the two night practices, just to put them in a different situation than they're used to having. (You) kind of get an idea of how they act in those areas, but yeah, they all kind of revert a little bit. Each guy is different really.

Q: What do you want to see from Eric Kendricks before you hit the regular season?

A: To be a little bit more patient. He wants to go get there so fast that sometimes he overruns things. He can be a little bit more patient. He needs to just settle down and do what he can do. That's really it, just settling down and feeling more comfortable I think.

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer

I hope everybody had a good weekend and enjoyed the ballgame Sunday night. Like a lot of preseason games there were some mistakes made. I thought we did some good things. There's obviously things we need to continue to work on, but I am excited about some of these players and the direction we're going and hopefully we can keep it going in the positive direction.

Q: From a coverage standpoint, what stood out to you?

A: I didn't like the one kickoff coverage we had. We missed a tackle at the point of attack but Danielle Hunter showed what kind of athlete he was. I don't know if you saw it, he came off laterally and it seemed like he covered 10 yards with two steps. He's long and he did a really good job with his hands and got off the block and made a nice play for us so Blair [Walsh] didn't have to be involved in the tackle but we didn't cover that very well. Obviously, we got to work on some things there. I think the more live reps you get on kickoff coverage the better you're going to get. Hopefully we'll get better as we go throughout the preseason.

Q: Do you have a little more clarity on the long snapper competition?

A: I think it's still a competitive battle, I think they're still working at it. Neither one of them was perfect the other night. The biggest things we look for with the long snapper, with the snapping part of it, which obviously is the most important part of it, is velocity, location and rotation, that's with the short snaps and the long snaps. We're going to continue to evaluate guys with those three things in mind. And of course the punt coverage part and the protection part is very important, but they're both very, very close there as well.

Q: With Jeff Locke, how does the long snapper affect him?

A: It shouldn't affect him at all. In fact, as a holder or a punter, he needs to go out there and do his job and worry about his job. I think for the most part he did that the other night and he's done a nice job since the spring and he's used to it by now, the two different guys. They're a little bit different snappers obviously, like most guys. I thought he did a pretty good job.

Q: On Stefon Diggs' return, did he make that happen and how well did he read his blocks?

A: It was a very well blocked play. We did a great job on the gunners. I thought we slowed up the interior enough early on and then we had some really nice finishes at the point of attack but he made a great move right at the point of attack. The cut he made around the 10, 15-yard line, you don't coach that. That's all God-given talent and he did a nice job catching the first one. Guys were giving him a hard time because he fair caught it but I'm just glad he caught it. The first one, get that one out of the gate for him. I thought he did a really nice job on that return as well as the rest of the guys and if we finish, the back side gunner, he actually made that play. So, we continually emphasize finishing blocks down field. We did a great job on him early and then he slides off just to get him at the one-yard line, so it was a good coaching point for us this morning in our meeting.

Q: How much of a concern is Stefon Diggs' ball security fielding punts?

A: He's much more comfortable, like we talked about I think last week, he's much more comfortable now than what he was in the spring and he's worked very, very hard at it. He'll come in and watch extra tape. He'll come in and all three of the punt returners will come in and watch tape before my meeting at night and they'll watch the close-up video we do every day with the kickoff and punt returners. It's a little bit of technique, it's mainly experience, but he's improved a lot since the spring.

Q: Is there still some apprehension on your part just needing to see him do it a lot?

A: I need to see him do it more. I'm sure Coach Zimmer does as well, for us to be comfortable if he's going to be the guy, we need more reps and more reps catching the ball in different situations. It was a beautiful night the other night, it was pretty ideal conditions for a guy to catch punts.

Q: Do you anticipate Stefon Diggs being the main punt returner in the preseason?

A: I would like to continue to work Marcus [Sherels] in there because if he's going to be the guy, then we need to make sure he's ready for the season as well. You can't just roll the ball out there against San Francisco and hope Marcus is the guy. So, were going to continue working the top three returners as we go forward.

Q: What is different with Stefon Diggs returning with the second team versus the first team?

A: When we go into a preseason game, we normally don't have a first team, second team. We have a punt return unit and of course we put the subs in there. When Marcus [Sherels] had his return, I think it was mainly the first group, the starters. When [Stefon] Diggs had his nice return, we had some of our backups in there but so did Pittsburgh, so it's all kind of relative. I think going forward you'd like to kind of mix in Diggs with the starters, as well and get him some experience with them. But really for him it shouldn't matter, he's got to read his blocks and kind of go from there.

Q: Aside from Danielle Hunter and the specialists, what other players stood out to you?

A: Edmond Robinson made a really nice play on punt. Unfortunately, he was blocked early, he was on the ground, he got tripped up. The biggest sin for a kickoff and punt cover guy is being on the ground. When you're on the ground, bad things happen for your cover team. But he did pop back up and took a great angle to the returner. We didn't cover that very well either, we got some work to do with our lanes and our lane integrity, but he made a really nice tackle once he had the opportunity.

Q: Did anything stand out to you in Blair Walsh's miss, the snap or the hold?

A: No. The snap and hold were fine. He pushed it right. His misses this summer have been a little bit to the right, he'll push them. Last year, he wrapped his foot a few times and the ball went left. He needs to attack the ball a little bit more like he did on the other two. He wasn't going to miss those two. I know they're PATs, but they're 33-yard field goals. He attacked them well and got after it and that's what he needs to do. You can't just punch the ball, he needs to attack it every time.

Q: What happened with the 10 guys on the field, was someone just not told?

A: Oh, he was told, yeah. He was our right tackle on the field goal team. You guys can figure it out from there, I don't want to throw him under the bus. That's something Coach Zimmer talked about the day before and the day of the game, I've been preaching it since May. You've got to be where you're supposed to be whether you're on the look teams or you're on the regular teams and he knew it right after the game. We won and we survived the situation but we can't have those mistakes, obviously, going forward.

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