Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Yesterday's practice was a good learning session. I think we did a lot of situations, tried to get a lot of things reviewed and then it got a little bit sloppy, a little bit at the end of practice. I'm hoping for a better day today.
Q: Is the extra preseason game a luxury with all of the youth that you have on the offensive line?
A: Yeah, I think it's good for all of the young guys, because they're going to continue to get some more playing time, another chance to evaluate and then like some of the questions you were asking me yesterday, we get a chance to tweak some things around and look at some guys with different people.
Q: Can you talk about Phil Loadholt coming back to the training facility and how he greeted his teammates?
A: Phil [Loadholt] is a great locker room guy. He cares a lot about the Vikings and the guys in here really respect him. They feel bad for him, just like everybody that gets hurt.
Q: Has he had his surgery and when was it?
A: Yes. Tuesday, I believe.
Q: Was it just the normal procedure and how do they look at the recovery time?
A: It's a normal Achilles repair.
Q: How would you describe Phil Loadholt's spirits?
A: He was good, he told me he doesn't want to just not be around the guys, not be around the facility, wants to help any way he can. He obviously was devastated when it happened, but I think he's starting to understand that now he's got to get back. I told him he will be one of many guys that have had Achilles that have come back that I've had before. We expect him to have a good recovery.
Q: Does he have a coaching gene you could tap into?
A: He probably does, yeah. He's a smart guy and he loves to be around the guys and loves to help.
Q: With injuries along the offensive line does that alter how much you might play certain guys in the preseason?
A: Not really. We have a lot of work to do. That was an emphasis we had coming into camp. Our guys need to play, that's how you get better. We're not going to get gun shy because something happens. We're going to continue to work and obviously, we're going to be smart about it. We have to get what we need to get accomplished for the season.
Q: What have you seen from David Yankey at this point compared to where he was at this time last year?
A: I think he's moving a lot better than he was. He had a good offseason. Unfortunately when he had the ankle that set him back a little bit, but he was doing good at that point. Now he's working his way back. He's much improved from where he was a year ago.
Q: Do you look for a third tackle that can play either tackle position or with the youth you have do you want the guys to focus on just one position?
A: Right now we're looking for starters and then we're looking for backups, but yes, you're correct. Yeah, you're correct, guys that can play both sides, so we can dress one less on game day.
Q: What would you consider a successful return for Anthony Barr, is it as simple as him getting out there and getting his feet wet?
A: No, I just want Anthony [Barr] to play like he's capable of playing. No different than anybody else. We've got a plan for him going into the game, we'll use him just like we would anybody else. Just because he dresses doesn't mean it's successful.
Q: Do you think over these past weeks Anthony Barr has got his conditioning back to where it needs to be?
A: Yeah. He feels good. I think he'd probably tell you, but he told Sug [Eric Sugarman], he feels the best he's felt in a long, long time, right now. He's having fun at practice, he's excited to get going and now we can start implementing him into things a lot more.
Q: Antone Exum Jr. has been making strides, any concern about him and his hamstring?
A: I don't know, I know everybody gets all caught up in the interception he had and the fumble recovery he had, but there's 118 more plays in a ball game, that's what I'm concerned about, those kind of things. Can you be consistent, can you do things right, can you make the calls, can you make the checks, can you be in the right position, can you make tackles? The interception was an overthrow and the fumble, somebody else got and he dove on it. Those are not difficult plays for me. We're still evaluating that position and we're trying to find guys that can do what we're asking them to do.
Q: Any chance he will play Saturday?
A: I don't know.
Q: Did you evaluate David Yankey as a tackle coming out of college?
A: He played both in college and so, we looked at him at guard for a little bit. Watching him, he seems to be more comfortable at tackle just doing the things we do and he's played both sides. When we drafted him, we thought he might be a guard because he had the flexibility of playing other positions, we felt like it was a good spot and then when you get guys here, you've seen this with some of these younger guys, Tyrus Thompson, T.J. [Clemmings], a lot of these guys we've looked at and then tried to figure out where they feel more comfortable. Sometimes it's hard to evaluate, and our guys do a great job, but it's hard to evaluate when they're going against college guys all of the time when they're in college and then they get up against some of these elite college guys that are now NFL players and you look to see where a guy might fit best.
Q: Have you seen a guy that could play all five offensive line positions?
A: There's probably some centers that have been able to do some of that. I remember we had a guy in Dallas one time, I know he could have played center and guard, he was a big guy, maybe he could have played tackle, I don't know.
Q: Did you see enough from Shaun Hill on Saturday to primarily use Taylor Heinicke and Mike Kafka this weekend?
A: I like Shaun [Hill] and the things he's doing, but we still have to get ready for the season, so Shaun will get some plays this week and then we will see how it goes the rest of the way.
Q: Do you ever allow yourself to see this defense as more exotic and the possibilities you have with this roster?
A: I don't know about that, I have visions of what I want it to look like, what I expect it to look like. I'm not sure that I ever sit back and dream too much. What we try to do as coaches, is we look at the talent that we have, we try to figure out the best ways we can use them, maybe Harrison Smith is better doing this or maybe Brandon Watts can do this a little bit better, hey, what can B. Rob [Brian Robison] do other than just line up at left end. We always think about things like that and then a lot of times, I don't if you noticed it in individual drills, sometimes in the group work, I'll take guys and I'll watch them drop, or do this, or do that, so that we can get a vision of what maybe he might do and then you learn what kind of intelligence he has and can he think about these things as it gets going. I think we're always trying to see what we want it to look like at the end.
Q: Do you anticipate Carter Bykowski going on injured reserve?
A: I don't know yet.
Q: Did you ever find out anything more about pectoral injuries?
A: I found out a lot, yeah. Do you want the medical version? It's a combination of things, really. It's dehydrated muscles, it's getting in the position, sometimes it's over-strengthening, sometimes it's fatigue. Still, we're calling around to every expert that we can find and keep digging.
Q: After you reviewed the tape, what kind of strides has Trae Waynes made from the first preseason game to the second?
A: In some things he improved on, in some things he didn't improve as much on. In practice, I keep watching him in the things he's doing. I think he's had a better week of practice doing some of the things we're asking him to do. He's improving his technique a lot and now there's some other areas. It's like every player, we've got to work on different areas where we have to keep improving in. I actually sat down and watched tape with him myself two days ago, we had a little film session. I'm not letting him play nickel this week, just so he can concentrate on one thing. Maybe I was too overzealous in trying to get him to do too many things.
*Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater *
An exciting day to be back out here. I look back a year ago, my first NFL action was against the Oakland Raiders, so to be where I am now and to be where we are as a team right now, I'm pretty comfortable, pretty confident heading into this game. We've been working extremely hard throughout training camp. The guys are just flying around, Coach Zimmer and the tempo of practice hasn't changed since we've gotten back to Winter Park and that's something that we love about Coach Zimmer. He pushes us, he works us hard and we're glad to have him as a coach.
Q: Was it good to see Phil Loadholt back at the facility today?
A: Yeah, definitely good to see Big Phil back around the facility. He's going to be missed a lot this year and his presence is felt. The minute he arrived here at the walk-thru, everyone sprinted off the field, all heads turned and looked at him. It speaks a lot and says a lot about him as a person and as a teammate.
Q: When you're evaluating how things are going so far, how much do you evaluate what happens in games as opposed to practice since you've gotten so few reps during the preseason games?
A: At the same time, when we do get those reps in the game, it's all about execution and I think we've been doing a good job so far this preseason, not only the first unit but the second unit. Those guys were able to score two or three touchdowns last week. It's just good to be able to just see the team flying around, whether it's the first unit, the second unit, the third unit, the rookies out there, it speaks a lot. The competition has made this team a lot better. In practice, we're competing against our defense and they're making us better on offense and vice versa, the offense is making the defense a better team.
Q: Since you do so much more on the practice field compared to preseason games, are you able to take more from an evaluation standpoint during practice?
A: Not at all because you approach the preseason game as if it's a regular season game. I have that mindset as if I'm breaking down an opponent, putting in extra time, doing the little things around the facility that no one sees, whether it's taking care of my body, or like I said, spending extra time watching film. So you approach the preseason game as if it's a regular season game and the thing about practicing against our defense, you get different looks, more looks than what you'll get in a preseason game because at training camp, our defense is exposed to the entire playbook, whereas in the preseason game, teams try not to show too much, so it balances out.
Q: You guys lost two tackles in one preseason game last week. Is there a concern at all in terms of the depth at the position?
A: I think the young guys are going to do a great job for us. T.J. [Clemmings], he stepped in last week and he played well. I was able to finish the game without a sack – I mean the two-point conversion play could have been avoided – but T.J. is a young guy, he is going to learn, he listens and we trust that the coaching staff, the personnel [department] are going to get the right players around here to make this team better.
Q: What about the guys behind T.J. Clemmings like Tyrus Thompson, David Yankey and Austin Shepherd? What do you see from them?
A: Those guys have shown flashes. I know one thing, their work ethic is off the charts. Those guys, being you guys, they watch how John Sullivan, [Brandon] Fusco, Big Phil, how those guys are leading, Matt Kalil. Those guys set a good example for guys like David Yankey and Tyrus Thompson. So I think those guys have the right guys leading them and they're going to be huge for this team.
Q: A year ago you were the young guy, what is going through the minds of the young guys on the offensive line right now?
A: I can tell you one thing, you have to have that mindset that it's my opportunity and I'm going to take advantage of it. Last year, I was in the position, like you said, when Matt Cassel went down and I just had to have that mindset as if it's my time, it's my opportunity to showcase my talents. Those guys have to have that same mindset. The window of opportunity is so small. We trust that those guys are going to do some great things for this team.
Q: From what you've seen from those guys, do you feel like they do have that mindset?
A: Definitely. The minute Phil [Loadholt] went down – and we hate to see guys get injured, especially during preseason – but the minute Phil went down, T.J. came on the field and we just told him, "Hey welcome to the club. It's on you now. Coach is giving you an opportunity, so it's up to you to take advantage of it." This week in practice he's shown that he has that confidence. His confidence is building even more. He is getting more comfortable being in there with the first team, so we're excited for him.
Q: Are you looking forward to seeing Christian Ponder this weekend? What did he mean to you last year in your development?
A: I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Christian. He's a great guy. We were able to establish a relationship off the football field and he is a great person and I can't wait to see him. I wish him nothing but the best this Saturday.
Q: It seemed like he always maintained a positive attitude despite not always playing or starting?
A: Definitely. Christian, like I said, he's a great guy and everyone looks at him on the football field, but when we walk away from the facility, he checks up on you now every now and then and he's a family man. That speaks volumes about him. He was always positive and I appreciated that.
Q: He said he expects to get booed this Saturday. Would that be unfortunate if that happened?
A: Who knows what is going to happen Saturday.
Q: Have you kept up with your high school teammate, Amari Cooper at all?
A: With training camp coming and me going through the process last year, I know everything is just happening very fast for him right now, so I kind of backed away. I'll probably reach out to him tomorrow night and just see how he is doing and everything and I will see him Saturday night on the field.
Q: What kind of camp is Cordarrelle Patterson having?
A: Cordarrelle, he's having a great preseason. He's working extremely hard. He has that mindset as if he wants to be the best receiver in the league and he comes out in practice and he's making catches across the middle, he's going up and winning jump-ball battles, he's precise in his route running and that's what we expect from Cordarrelle and that entire wide receiver room. Mike Wallace came in, he's set a good example for those guys. Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright, those guys do a great job of just leading each other.
Q: What were your nerves like last preseason in your first game and how far have you come since?
A: Last year, that preseason game, my head was spinning. My head was everywhere, my mind was everywhere. First off, trying to get the play call correctly in the huddle, then coming to the line of scrimmage, trying to make the right calls at the line of scrimmage, then post-snap trying to figure out what coverage the defense is running. I think my coaches did a great job last year preparing me for that first game and this year, having a year under my belt playing in this system, I'm even more comfortable.
Q: Is all of that natural at this point or is there still a progression you need to go through?
A: It's all natural right now and I credit that to the coaching staff. They've done a great job of being not only great coaches, but great teachers in the classroom.
Q: What is Mike Wallace like behind the scenes in the locker room or at the facility?
A: Mike, he's a great guy. He's eager to be great, he has the mindset that he is not only the fastest wide receiver in the league, but he's the best receiver in the league. That's a great mindset to have. You watch him out here putting in the extra work with the young guys. That speaks volumes of him. He could be a guy who just comes out, does his job, goes back, goes home every day, but he sticks around. He's trying to make everyone around him better and those are the types of players we want around here.
Q: Who do you have the best chemistry with right now at this point in camp?
A: I can't even answer that question. I'm like a kid in the candy store right now. I get to throw the ball to Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright, swing pass to Jerick McKinnon, Adrian Peterson, so it's like all those guys we have some chemistry and it's only going to get better.
Q: After being a rookie and first round pick, what advice do you have for Trae Waynes as he continue to develop this year?
A: It's just going to have its ups and downs, but there is always a lesson, whether it's from the positive or the negative. Trae is a great guy, he doesn't say much. He's one of those guys, he likes to learn. He sits back and learns and he observes everything. He is going to be a great player for this team.