*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
Alright, so Sunday afternoon the doctor met me at his office and checked the eyes. We can get this out of the way. He said everything is good. The only thing that he said was that I probably should not do very many media sessions anymore.
Q: Mike, are you able to do everything? Do you have to be careful with anything when you are out there?
A: Moderation is the term to use. The pressure is good, the bubble is dissolving, the retina is in good shape, but really all he said was, "Just be smart."
Q: How would you describe your vision?
A: You know, it is hard to see through the bubble, but above the bubble I can see and below the bubble I can see. I can see right and left. The vision is pretty good. It is hard to tell if it is 20/20 or 20/800 because you cannot really tell any of that, but I can see decent. It is just annoying sometimes when you seeing like a glass of water over here.
Q: You have had a lot of optimism of the course of this whole thing, even through some setbacks. How would you characterize where you've at now?
A: This is probably the most optimistic, I would guess. They put the bubble in there to keep the retina in place, and at this point, the bubble is only helping when I am sleeping right now. So when I am standing up, and doing it all, it has been a couple of weeks, so I am hopeful.
Q: What is your assessment of things while you were gone and how the team looked now that you are back?
A: I thought the players did a great job of understanding the situation and trying to stay with the things we are trying to progress to, and the coaches did a great job of working together. That is always hard when you got offense going against defense and things like that, but they worked together very well. They listened to all of the direction that I gave them each day. They did a really good job, so I am very lucky and very fortunate to have not only the coaches that I have, but the team that I have.
Q: How has Edmond Robinson come along?
A: You know he has had a good week this week. I think he has might of started out a little bit slow, but he had a good week this week, so we just keep giving him more and more and see how he handles things.
Q: How has he progressed in the past year?
A: Well, he is actually playing a different spot right now, than he was a year ago, but I think sometimes the first or second year, you still try to feel your way a little bit, and third year, you are a lot more comfortable. It is a big year for him, and I think, so far, he is progressing well.
Q: How has Brian Robinson handled, not a lesser role, but being asked to have a different role through the emergence of Danielle Hunter?
A: Probably as good as I have been around. He said he would do anything he could to help this football team. I think he understands that Danielle is a very talented guy, He did something in the defensive meeting room that was pretty stand up-ish. I mean, I don't know. He did things the correct way, like a true professional.
Q: Was it a conversation that you had with him right after the season last year or when he showed up this spring?
A: No, not really. Andre [Patterson] talked to him pretty much.
Q: I saw you were working with Tommy Armstrong. He said it is a totally different mindset to him, and that really appreciates the time one-on-one. What do you see in him that you think you can make the conversion from quarterback to safety?
A: I think he is a really good athlete, and you can see some of the traits we look for in defensive players; the bursts, the acceleration, the size. Obviously he is still trying to learn some of the basic techniques of things and that will take a while, but he is a good, quality kid to work with, and has a lot of upsides.
Q: Would you say the getaway was worth it?
A: I guess. I do not know. I guess I did not have much of a choice. If everything goes good, it is worth it, and if it does not, it is not.
Q: Do you anticipate that is the only time you will have to get away?
A: I hope so. Yeah, right now, like I said the retina looks great, so he is going to check it again in a couple of weeks. I still can't fly or do any of that kind of stuff, but right now it is probably the best reports that I have had since all of this stuff started. I have probably done a little bit more research since the season has gotten over with, and I probably needed to take it a little more serious than what I did.
Q: How do you sum up the competition for Chad Greenway's old starting position?
A: It's so early. Emmanuel's [Lamur] been out for about four or five days now. We're going to look at all of the guys in there. Like I said before Edmond (Robinson) has had a couple of good days here in the last couple of days. I think he's feeling more comfortable with it, so we'll just see. I'm not opposed to one of these younger guys if they end up being the guy.
Q: How has Datone Jones been while making the position switch?
A: First of all, he's a great kid. He's taking the coaching really well. He's a good athlete, obviously, with him being a first-round draft pick. The transition for him is closer to what he did in college. He's still learning a lot of things that we're trying to teach as far as hands, pad level and different things like that. You see some flashes in there every day of his improvement. We'll keep going and see where he goes from there.
Q: We've seen a lot of progress from Teddy, what needs to happen for him to get into practice?
A: He's got to get cleared by the doctors. Sometimes when you see a guy every day you don't notice the progress that he's made. I'm gone for two weeks and he, obviously, isn't on the tape. So, I come back yesterday and I said "Wow, Teddy, he's moving better." Quite a bit better in my opinion. But, he's still got a long way to go. I think he's happy with the progress. I know he's very impatient about wanting to get out there and go. But, we have to do it within the best interest of him in the long run. At the end, the final say is going to be from the doctors. When they say, "Hey, he's good to go." You know they gave him the green light to do a little bit more stuff on the side you saw today, but it's just going to continue to take time to keep progressing at the right pace.
Q: What has this offseason been for Sam Bradford?
A: I think it's been really good for him. Sam and I have talked a lot, even when I was gone, about a lot of different things. So, it's been good in that way. But, it's been good for him to be around the players in order to take more of an ownership role, which would probably be the best way to say it. You know, coming in new at the beginning of a season and just trying to figure out where to live. Those things are now taken care of. I think Sam feels much more comfortable. I think he's taking on more of the things I'm trying to get him to do. I think he feels better about it.
Q: It looks like Sam Bradford wasn't throwing much today.
A: Yeah, well he was throwing. He's got a little muscle tightness and we just backed him off.
Q: What's your reaction to seeing Terence Newman getting vocal out there on defense?
A: You know, Terence is a guy who has an awful lot of pride. If you want to talk a little noise to him, he's going to take your challenge. You better be careful not to wake up that bear.
Q: Is that good to see?
A: Yeah, it's good to see these guys and the way that they compete and the way they try to do things right. When we have a meeting in the morning and I tell them what I want to work on today and what I want to get accomplished, to see them come out here and do it and pay attention. That's why I like this football team so much. If you talk to them about being inside the five-yard line and things that are going to happen and things that we've got to do, they're going to come out here and work on it. It may not be perfect, but they're going to try and work on the things that we want to get accomplished.
Q: It seems like over the past year or so, Xavier Rhodes has been more vocal. What have you seen as far as that type of leadership?
A: I think a lot was helped with having Terence Newman here, and helping him with some of those things, but you know Xavier is a kid who never has a bad day. He is always going to be excited to be out here. He is always going to be happy to be able to play football and do the things that he can do, and I think that him having some success last year and being able to go to the Pro Bowl and some of those things, I think that has given him another boost of confidence. We still have to make sure that he is doing things right every single day, but he is a guy that listens. He is one of those guys, that when you try to teach some guys some techniques and try to teach them how to play the game and then they start having success doing those things, they feel good not only about the coaching, but the things he is being taught. Hopefully he will be able to take the next step from there.
Q: With Sam Bradford's muscle tightness, is that just a day-to-day thing or is that something that they might hold him out for the rest of the spring?
A: I do not think so. I think he will be out here tomorrow.
Q: We will get the injury report on Friday?
A: Yes, we will send it out.
Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen
Q: What was it like having coach out there?
A: It has been great. It is nice to have that. Obviously the atmosphere has been a little different, a little bit higher intensity, but I think honestly we have done a great job. The coaches have done a great job. We know that he has been watching, so we know that we have to keep it up, and we have great, veteran leadership. We have honestly had really good practices even when he was not here, but yet at the same time we obviously want him to be here. He is our leader and we like when he is here.
Q: How do you still go about your work the same way, when he is not here?
A: Right. I think because of the fact we know he is watching. He is not taking a day off from watching the film, so we know he is watching. We know when he gets back. I think the first words he said to me were something I did wrong when he was not here so we know he is watching and that is obviously why we work so hard.
Q: Zimmer is not one for patience. He did not want to take the time off, and he has said many times he has been forced to. So knowing that passion, and seeing him have to take time off, are you happy that people are pressuring him, so he can be here for a longer time?
A: Yes, for sure. I think everybody on this team is glad that he took time for himself and got his health down before he came back, but at the same time we are glad he is back because this team is not the same without him, and obviously like I said, he is our leader. When he is here, practice is a little different.
Q: What did you think of Mortiz Bohringer's catch on the long pass?
A: It was nice. Yeah, it was great. Mo has done a great job. He has worked his tail off and asking tons of questions, trying to whatever he can to be the best player he can be.
Q: What that his best catch that you have seen since he has been here?
A: I have seen Mo make some good catches, but yeah that was obviously good. It was a touchdown. It is obviously great to see your teammates, especially in the wide receiver group, making plays.
Q: This is Sam Bradford's first offseason here. What does that mean to be able to connect when you do not have a game coming up on Sunday?
A: It has been huge. It is crazy because during the season, it was almost like he had been there all offseason, so for us now to have an offseason on top of that, what we did last year, it is great. Obviously him talking to us, telling us how he likes things done, how we like things done, kind of getting on the same page. That is what this is all about. I think we have gotten off to a great start.
Q: Coach mentioned getting better on both sides of the ball inside the five-yard line. How much ownership do you guys have taking that on as an offense?
A: Yeah, I think looking back on last season, as a whole offense, we were frustrated with our performance in that area. I mean that is how you win and lose ball games right there, and I think that is why it has been such a big emphasis. Today, that was huge for us. We talked about it in our meeting, and yeah, we just have to get better on both sides of the ball. He puts up the stats up in there. Like when teams score touchdowns there, it changes the whole game, and obviously you have to score times. There were a few times that we got inside the five-yard line and did not even score points and that just cannot happen.
Q: Xavier called you a technician, just with how precise you are. Is that what you take pride in most?
A: Yeah, I mean I learned early on in my career watching Greg Jennings, and honestly all of the receivers when I first came in, just watching the way that they get open. In this league, open is not much separation and so you have to be a technician. You have to be good with your routes, and on top of your routes, getting in and out of your breaks. You have to do that to succeed in this league. Even sometimes when you run a bad route, as long as you can create a little separation on the top of your route, you can open, so it is obviously something I am working on every day. I am making sure I am getting better at that. That has been a big emphasis for me this offseason.
*Vikings Cornerback Xavier Rhodes *
Q: Have you noticed any differences in practice with Coach Zimmer being back?
A: We definitely missed him while he was gone. Zim is going to be Zim, so he's going to be on us hard. He basically wants things perfect on both sides of the ball. The energy on the field during practice is the same. We're out there practicing and competing each and every day to make each other better.
Q: What kind of progress do you all feel you are making as a group?
A: Actually a lot. The bond and the chemistry is getting a lot better on the offensive side and the defensive side. The defense are making calls, making checks into certain formations and we're getting into motions. The bond and the chemistry is getting a lot better this year so far.
Q: Is there some competitiveness between the offense and the defense?
A: Yeah, we compete every day. We feel that's how we're going to get each other better and get ready for the regular season.
Q: Do like to see Terence Newman being vocal out on the field?
A: [Laughter] Terence was pretty hyped up today. We love to see that (from) a guy like that. He's always been a mellow, chill guy. Today, he was like "forget it I'm going to get out there and be competitive and loud today." That got us riled up today.
Q: Did you think there needed to be more of an edge with this group?
A: It's an edge every day. We feel like we have to win every day. Like I said, we just try to make each other better. On offense, the receivers are trying to beat us on certain routes and we're trying to stop them on certain routes. We're just trying to win each and every day.
Q: Was Coach Zimmer texting you a lot while he was gone?
A: [Laughter] When he was out, yeah, he was texting me quite a few. He was correcting me on my techniques and the things I need to correct to make sure I'll be better the next day. If I want to be great, I have to look at the little things and correct the little things.
Q: What is it like going against Adam Thielen in practice?
A: He's a technician. If Thielen is told to run nine yards, he's going to run exactly nine yards in and out of his break. He comes out of his break pretty well. He can move his weight pretty well. With Thielen if the ball is in the air, he's going to catch it with one hand, one finger, it doesn't matter. He's going to find a way to get the ball. Thielen is great to go against.
Q: Coach Zimmer has always seemed to have a vision for you to become great, has that helped your career?
A: Yeah, he's always been on me. He's always telling me that I have the potential to be great. I just have to believe and listen to him and listen to the other coaches that are trying to coach me. I also listen to the other vets on the team. I listen to everyone that's willing to help and give me the knowledge to help me improve my game
Q: What has changed for you to become more vocal over the past couple of years?
A: I feel like I need to be heard. I think the guys are looking forward to seeing me talk, to be more vocal, to be more of a leader. So, I'm trying to take it on and get used to that role. So, I'm starting here in practice.
Q: Has it been difficult for you to become more vocal?
A: Yeah, it's been difficult for me. I've always been a quiet guy coming into practice and just doing what I need to do. I understand the role that I'm in now and I'm trying to help the team the best way I can.
Q: How's the weather been for you?
A: This weather has been perfect! I can't complain. I'm just enjoying it right now. Each and every day come out here, get a good sweat in, compete and go back in and hopefully the weather will stay the same.
Q: How is it for you to have guys on the team looking at you now?
A: I'm comfortable in the defense. I'm comfortable in everything that I'm in. I have a lot of confidence in my game from then to now. I can say that's it's been a lot of improvement.