Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Had a players' day off yesterday and we're starting practice again today. We put John Sullivan on injured reserve designated to return. We do have a lot of confidence in the guys that we have. If there's been a good thing about it – it's gone on for a couple weeks – we've had this lineup the way it is and we expect him to get back soon. Questions?
Q: Is the Week 9 target day realistic or will it take John Sullivan longer to recover?
A: I don't know. We've been given a timetable but that doesn't mean anything. We expect him back for the second half, it would be Week 9, but the bye, so eight games.
Q: What specifically was the injury?
A: A lumbar microdiscectomy.
Q: That was the procedure?
A: Yes, he had a bad back.
Q: Did he get hurt on the field or in the weight room?
A: On the field.
Q: Did something change over the last few days to lead to this?
A: Yes, he was doing better, he was running. Typically you treat these conservatively because if you don't then it could end up having surgery and you want to take your time and see if it heals. He got to a point where he was getting better, but he couldn't get over the hump. He was running seven miles an hour on the treadmill in there, but we couldn't just get him over the hump.
Q: How long did you think John Sullivan would be out when you talked earlier this week?
A: I didn't think I'd have him this week. But I didn't know when; I had no idea when. We were hoping that it wouldn't come to this but it did.
Q: Is it something that just popped up in the last week to go along with the back spasms?
A: No, he's had a herniated disk, he had two epidurals. We knew what it was. Typically a lot of guys will recover after one epidural, sometimes they recover after two epidurals and after his second epidural, he was doing better and we were hopeful that he would get over the hump and he just never did.
Q: What is your overall concern on the offensive line now?
A: Zero, no concern at all. Just like I said the other day, we expect guys to go in there and play. They'll do a good job. [Joe] Berger has played for a long time. We had talked about doing a lot of different things when Sullivan was healthy, moving Berger to possibly guard instead of Mike Harris, so actually this all worked out pretty good the way it ended up happening because Harris, he got all of the reps at right guard, Berger has been getting all the reps at center, which is basically his natural position.
Q: It was just announced Jarius Wright received a contract extension. What do you guys like about him?
A: Well he's a great kid, he works really hard, he's smart, he's a great program-guy, the guys that we like to have here and he makes plays. He's fast, I think he's got a chance to have a very good future.
Q: What is the challenge for you guys in preparing for this 49ers defense? Do you go and look at what they did last year or do you study the preseason film?
A: Both and more. We look at [Eric] Mangini who was a coordinator before, when he was a head coach, what they did defensively. We look at the preseason. We go back and look at last year especially their personnel, the players like NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks and those guys, [Eric] Reid the safety. We do our due diligence.
Q: Is Colin Kaepernick as dangerous as they come from the quarterback position with his legs and ability to run?
A: I have to think about comparables, but he is very dangerous when he runs. He's a strong runner, he's big, he's physical, he's dangerous when he gets around.
*Q: Does it cause for a more conservative game plan when you know he has the capability of getting outside the pocket as a scrambler? *
A: Well that was an emphasis for us all along, trying to make sure we understand our rush lanes better, but there's a lot of different ways to do it and I'm not going to give out the game plan, but there are several ways to try and do things that way.
Q: Do you notice any change to Adrian Peterson as he approaches his first game in a year?
A: I don't know, he said he's excited. I don't think he is going at it nonchalantly.
Q: Are you excited to go watch him play?
A: I won't have time to go watch, I'll be coaching. We all have jobs to do on that day, so we all have got to make sure we do our job.
Q: Is Zac Kerin the backup center or someone like Jeremiah Sirles?
A: It would probably be Zac.
Q: Are you ultimately decided on Gerald Hodges as your middle linebacker?
A: I don't know.
Q: Is Eric Kendricks still in the mix there then?
A: I don't know. I understand you guys have got to ask these questions, but I'm not going to tell San Francisco who we're playing, who is starting or anything like that. It's just the way it is. If I could have waited another six days, I would have held off on Sullivan, but I couldn't. No offense.
Q: You don't like those NFL injury reports then?
A: I don't know what good it is. I was talking to somebody the other day, we were saying you guys come out there with your little sheets – "Okay, so-and-so didn't practice. Then he sees him doing it. Oh, he's doing it, I better do it." It's like coaches, we do the same thing – "Oh shoot, they're doing it, we better do it." No offense.
Q: What is the challenge of going there and playing at 9:20 local time here? Did you do anything differently to prepare for that?
A: Well, I think the good thing about it is that we've had five night games in a row. I think we would have thought about it differently if we had day games all this time, but I think it's going to be more of a challenge on the next week, just because we get back at 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday. Our guys are pretty much used to the night game schedule. It's a little bit later, but as far as here, it will be more difficult for the fans, they're going to have to make sure they stay up and sleep in that morning or don't go to work the next day. I'm not asking them to do that.
Q: Do you plan on filling that extra roster spot with John Sullivan out?
A: We've talked about it, but we have not made that decision as of yet.
Q: Does Jabari Price coming off the suspension list in two weeks factor into that decision?
A: It does, but it doesn't mean we're going to wait two weeks either. All of those things factor into it.
Q: How much of an emphasis was team speed after you evaluated last year, especially on offense and acquiring Mike Wallace?
A: I think it's important in today's NFL that you have a fast football team. I think we try to get faster defensively. I think we try to get faster offensively and I think it helps on special teams, so I think the more speed that you have all over the field, you have a chance to make more plays and I've always – because I've coached DB's for so long – liked guys who can run. And I know defending guys that can run is just as difficult. I think those are all big factors.
Q: How much of a difference is there in Trae Waynes' play over the last few weeks after concentrating him on the outside?
A: I think quite a bit, I think quite a bit. That was another good aspect of having the five preseason games, the extra week of practice. He seems much more comfortable now because learning the nickel was totally different for him. But I still think it's good for those guys because they get a better understanding of concepts and that stuff. It doesn't mean we won't continue to do it down the road, but right now we're going to leave him alone.
Q: How has Captain Munnerlyn taken to concentrating mainly at nickel?
A: Fine. That's pretty much what he does now, concentrate on the nickel.
Q: What have you seen from Scott Crichton? Is he ready to contribute to this team?
A: I think he will. Scott is a big, try-hard guy, gives great effort, he's pretty smart, he's got some thump to him. I do see him making a contribution.
Q: What is the challenge of trying to cover Anquan Boldin?
A: He's physical, he's sneaky in his routes, he's shifty, he's a great blocker – that's difficult, he's a big guy, he's good run-after-catch, so all of those things.
Q: Is he one of those guys who even though he is covered, he is strong enough to go up and get the ball?
A: Yeah, he'll kind of shove you out of the way too sometimes. Don't tell the officials I said that.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
July 25th [start of training camp], it seems like a long time ago. Just like a majority of American football fans out there, we're excited that the regular season is here, football season is back. It was a long preseason, especially with the extra preseason game, the guys are excited, we're all excited. We're ready to go.
Q: How tough it is to lose your starting center for at least half the season?
A: You never want to see guys get injured, but luckily we have a veteran in Joe Berger, a guy who's going to be playing his 100th career game and I believe he's started 38 of those games. Joe, he's a guy who showed last year that he's versatile. He can play center, he can play guard, probably can even play tackle. We're going to miss Sully [John Sullivan], but with Joe, the offense isn't going to change, just different personnel. I think Joe is going to do a good job for us.
Q: Did the John Sullivan injury news come as a surprise to you or have you known it was a possibility for a couple of weeks?
A: We were out in practice and I noticed that Joe [Berger] had been taking some snaps, but I try to just focus on football and let personnel take care of itself.
Q: How important have the extra reps with Joe Berger in the preseason and practice been?
A: It's been very important. Last year we struggled with some injuries up front and Joe [Berger], like I said, he stepped in and he played well for us. I have some playing experience with Joe playing in actual games. We're excited, like I said, to have a veteran in Joe.
Q: What's a good example of how John Sullivan helped you as a rookie last year?
A: Sometimes there are calls up front that he can make and just allow me to play fast, but Joe [Berger], he's a great guy and he's been taught well by Coach [Jeff] Davidson and Sully [John Sullivan] has been doing a great job of working with Joe also, so we're excited.
Q: How frustrating is it to lose two starting offensive linemen before you even get to play a regular season game?
A:* *It's tough, but like I said, we have to have that mindset, next guy up. You never want to see guys get injured, especially early in the season, or preseason. Personnel is going to be a little different heading into Week One. Like I said, July 25th seems like forever [ago] since we first arrived back here in training camp. Our mindset is just being excited about opening the season on Monday Night [Football], the biggest stage in football. The guys are excited.
Q: How different is the feeling heading into this season opener as the starter compared to last season?
A: It's very different. For one, we get to open up on Monday Night [Football] and as a little child you grow up watching Monday Night Football and to be starter Week One, Monday night, it's a great feeling. Last year, I was a backup Week One, but I still approached the week as if I was a starter. This year, it's a little different being the starter, but the approach hasn't changed at all.
Q: With all of San Francisco's losses on defense how do you prepare to open the season against this team and all of their moving parts this offseason?
A: The coaching staff has put together a great game plan for us. We can't be too concerned with San Francisco, because we know that we have a job to do, which is to go out and execute our offense. You know, it is tough, they have a new coaching staff, seven different starters on defense this year, just try to judge them off of the preseason, but some teams don't show everything in the preseason. We know that there are going to be some surprises come Monday night, they're going to do some things that we didn't see them do in the preseason and that's where we just make adjustments on the run.
Q: What has Adrian Peterson's demeanor been like leading up to the game?
A: Oh man, you can just feel his presence from the moment he walks into this facility that he's ready to play. He's had an entire year off and we're excited for him. We can't wait to watch him running wild on Monday.
Q: Has Adrian Peterson been talking about running wild or do you just get the sense that he just wants to come out with a real good game?
A: Like I said, his presence is felt the moment he steps into the facility. He comes to work every day and he's eager to be great. With Adrian Peterson, we're not just talking about any running back, we're talking about a future Hall of Fame running back, so to bring him back into this offense and to watch him play, it's going to be exciting.
Q: How do you compare the speed on this year's offense against last year's?
A: We've added guys, Mike Wallace, speedster, everyone talks about his speed. Adrian [Peterson], he can fly, Jarius Wright, those guys, it's a fast group. We're a long way from where we want to be right now, we have got to continue to just get better. We came out here today in the walk-thru, we came out and we were sharp. We just want to continue to be sharp throughout the course of the week and let it show on Monday.
Q: Do you think the deep passing will be a significant difference and how much will the added speed help?
A: Who knows? Like I said, we have a system that Coach [Norv] Turner put together and it's a system where a different guy can be featured each week. The guys here, they aren't worrying about individual stats, the most important stat right now is the wins and losses. Right now our focus is just winning the first game.
Q: Is your guy's game strategy going to change much from what it was in the preseason?
A: Like I said, Coach [Norv] Turner has put together a game plan. We spent time breaking down San Francisco, we're just excited to get back out there on Monday night.