*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
I thought practice today, I thought the effort and the execution was pretty good for the most part. I like this team. They still have the work ethic and desire. I think defensively we're playing very confident and relaxed like they should be in their third year of this system. And offensively, we've added some different wrinkles that guys have been working really hard at and different techniques. Overall, it's been good. Obviously today, we cut it a little bit short because of lightning, but I didn't want any of ya'll to get hit by lightning. I'd miss you. Alright, questions?
Q: How has Teddy Bridgewater been better with his deep balls this offseason? Is it a mechanical thing or continuity with the receivers?
A: I think we've just focused on it a little bit more. There was a play last week that kind of showed me the progression. We had a hard count. One of the guys on defense jumped and we had a play action off of it and he saw the guy jump. He said, "Got you!" and he saw the safety bite a little bit and just hung it right down the middle of the field about 55 yards and a perfect strike. So those are the kind of things I see two years ago or even early last year, I don't think he would have done. But there's other plays like that where he sees the safety bite and to me he just looks more comfortable and confident as well in the things that he's doing.
Q: How important is that for the offense to open things up?
A: It's always important because you can back people up. But the percentages on deep ball are not really very good. I don't care who's throwing them. It's timing, the arc on the ball, guys are running full speed downfield, but sometimes you get pass interferences and things like that, which are good things, too. I was talking to Norv [Turner] about this today – I've talked about this not being able to press a few times – well, a lot of times it's hard to get him when the corners are off all the time, but we've still got to throw them. But if you're up there pressed and you see a guy get beat or he is hip-to-hip when they're running, you take a few more shots when you're doing that, which we'll emphasize in training camp.
Q: How much of a step does Teddy Bridgewater need to take this season with more to work with and an extra year of experience?
A: Well, I don't know how you measure how much of a step you take. I still go back to great quarterbacks win and that's the thing that this guy does. He's a winner. Whatever it (his record) is, he wins games and to me that's the most important thing. There's a lot more to playing quarterback than just throwing the ball through the wall. I can name – I won't name the guys – but I can off the top of my head think of a lot of really, really strong arm quarterbacks that didn't win, number one, and didn't take care of the ball and didn't do things right. Number one picks in the draft, too.
Q: What do you see in Everson Griffen as a player and as a leader?
A: I think with Everson, we didn't have any kind of relationship before I got here. But this kid works hard, he's a grinder, he wants to be great. He loves the competitive part of the game, the physical part of the game and he's a tremendous athlete that can do an awful lot of things. I guess his attitude and mine are similar in a lot of things. Hopefully we're a little different.
Q: Adrian Peterson stated he wanted to show off his versatility in this offense. Is that a focal point during these practices?
A: We're working on it, yeah. And today there was two plays that really showed me today some of the things we're working on. There was one play down in the red zone early that I had not seen him make that cut before. And a lot of times, that's the one that you hit big ones on. Then there was another play out of the gun later on that I thought he made an excellent read and cut out of it.
Q: How do you measure where the club is right now in terms of settling versus needing to potentially take another step forward?
A: I think it's really how hard they work and how hard they compete. And this team works, they work. I mean, you guys saw practice today, they work. There's not a lot of jacking around and guys are focused on their jobs and they go out there and compete and try to win. But they practice the right way. I think I saw one guy on the ground today, he ended up falling – not receivers – guys in the middle of the stuff. They know how to practice, to do things right. For the most part today, we didn't have very many pre-snap penalties, which has been an emphasis this spring. I just kind of watch him how they go about their business and try to have a feel for it. Something happened last week, they were doing something that I didn't like and I kind of told them about it. So I think when you have good guys, you have smart guys, you have guys that care, you don't have to do that a lot. But if they ever get out of line, they know that daddy is mad.
Q: What are the signs to you that Cordarrelle Patterson is figuring things out?
A: He's not making mental errors – very, very few mental errors. He's running the routes at the proper depth, he's lining up in the proper place. I don't know that it's ever been an issue with athletic ability with him, but maybe sometimes the focus. And it's like today out in practice in stretch. Sometimes guys say hi to me or something and he said, "I'm going to get better today." In the past, it maybe was not all about that.
Q: Why has it changed all of a sudden?
A: I don't know. Sometimes it takes guys a little while to figure things out. Sometimes when – I heard some other players say this – a lot of guys, they're able to do a lot of things because of their athletic ability, they can get away with it in some of their younger years in high school, in college and things like that, junior college or wherever. And it just takes them a while to figure things out, some guys are different.
Q: How has Danielle Hunter looked this spring?
A: I think good. He works really hard. He's the same athlete he was. He's probably a little bit bigger and strong than he was. But Danielle is a guy that continually tries to do things right, there's things we're working on trying to get him better. But I thought he's looked good.
*Q: What are the things that he needs to do to be able to get to that next level? *
A: For him, he's got great speed and great length. And for him, he has to consistently use those things. I think a lot of times, especially as a young guy, he was thinking a little bit too much. So it's more about reacting and using the ability that he has. Some guys try to be too perfect as well and that slows him down a little bit. One of the big things that I've been talking to him all the time is being low and coming off the ball. His first step, he's got a great first step and he's got to make sure he threatens the offensive line with that and being an athlete, really.
Q: Do you think Jarius Wright is a candidate to start if Laquon Treadwell is not ready to start as a rookie?
A: I think everybody is in the mix. I know you guys are asking me a lot of questions about lineups and how is this guy. The one thing that I want to be very careful to do – and the players know this and the coaches do, too – is I don't want to evaluate guys in shorts and underwear. The game is played in pads. We're always evaluating guys, trying to get them better. But things can change once the pads come one and you've got to carry your pads and you've got to be a little more physical. So I'm trying not to be an instant evaluator on anything.
Q: What kind of strides has Jarius Wright taken this spring?
A: Yeah, Jarius is doing good. He's got good speed coming out, I think he's understanding the system a lot better. Like all receivers, he wants to catch more balls, but that's not different than anybody else.
Q: In terms of the playbook, did Emmanuel Lamur have an easier transition than most free agents?
Q: What have you seen in Lamur's transition on the field?
A: Good. He's extremely athletic, he's long, great kid, talented, good athlete, fast, a lot of good things.
Q: What made you want to move him to that weak side spot?
A: I just think it's a better spot for him. I've always thought that. I don't want to go into why we didn't do it there (Cincinnati), but I think that's the best spot for him.
Q: Where did Xavier Rhodes make the biggest strides last year and what sort of cornerback do you think he can become when he puts it all together?
A: I don't know about last year, but where he's at right now, I feel like sometimes with Xavier in the past, like when we come in for the offseason, it would be starting over again and this year he's not like that. He's back into – we didn't have to go back and read through everything. Some of the more intricate things, he was able to do while he's been here this spring. I think he can be a really good cornerback. He's obviously got great length, he can run, he can turn his hips good, he's physical. Sometimes Xav is his own worst enemy and he will get down on himself a little bit. But I think he feels confident about what he's done this spring. I think he's improved a lot in his off-coverage this spring. And we're going to have to get back and work on bump-and-run when we get back.
Q: What is he like on game day for being so calm off the field?
A: He's pretty much the same. He'll get frustrated once in a while when things aren't going his way. But he's a great kid, he's a tremendous person. I think he wants to continue to be really good and he cares.
Q: How is the offense doing with the new wrinkles and can you get a good read on them without pads?
A: One of the things I look at is if you watch our defensive backs, they do the drills the exact same way. They turn at the right time, their footwork is the same, their pad-level is the same. If you watch the offensive line, those guys are doing those things as well. So you watch the linebackers and they look like twins taking the same steps. When you watch the defensive line and the way they take their steps and the way they use their hands. So to me, what I'm seeing with the offensive line, everything is looking the same. It's a lot of different things, and it's still a work in progress. It's not anywhere near finished. And I haven't asked any of the offensive line if they like it or they don't like it because I don't really care, but I do see improvement on the things that we're trying to teach and we're trying to get them to do.
Q: Is not having Alex Boone out there a big deal?
A: Not too much. We like having everybody out there, but it shouldn't be a big deal. He's a pretty smart guy, even though he went to Ohio State.
Q: Is he out all week?
A: I don't know. We will see tomorrow and the next day.
*Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater *
First day of minicamp in the books – it's good to be able to get out there and compete with the guys, and it has been a good spring. Guys have been flying around, learning how to compete and practice with each other, getting back to the fundamentals, basics of football, just doing some of the things we do well. So, we're going to make sure we take advantage of these next two days and make the most of them.
Q: Head Coach Mike Zimmer said you're throwing the deep ball better. Do you agree with that, and if so, what have you done to improve your deep-ball throwing?
A: I think we're just doing a good job of executing the offense and doing what's asked of us. We spent some time trying to find ways to push the ball down the field and things like that, and our guys are doing a great job of just stretching the field, getting spaced up. And they're making my job easy. I can throw it to a spot and just give those guys a chance. We say that's what it's all about – just being able to give those guys a chance to go out there and make plays and compete for the football. So far this spring, I think we're doing a pretty good job of that. There's still room for improvement. Like I said, we've got two days left. So, we can still improve over these next two days.
Q: Was there any difference there with your throwing mechanics that may be playing a role in that?
A: It's just finishing throws. [We] put the tape on of last year, and there were a bunch of throws where I probably wasn't finishing the throws, following through and things like that, which would cause the ball to sail and things like that. So, the coaching staff has just been doing a great job of working with the quarterbacks, and we've been pushing ourselves each day.
Q: Did you add some muscle in the offseason?
A: I probably did. Like I said when I first saw you guys this spring, it has been a freak show in the weight room [with] Shaun [Hill], Taylor [Heinicke], Joel [Stave] and I, and we've just been pounding the weights, just making sure we do the little things to take care of our bodies, to build up stamina, endurance, to be able to throw the ball all spring and also get our bodies ready for this upcoming season.
Q: There has been a lot of talk about WR Cordarrelle Patterson and how much better he looks. What have you seen from him so far?
A: Just from sitting back there throwing the ball to him, he has looked good, and Cordarrelle [Patterson], he's a guy that works extremely hard. Every day, he comes to work, and he has one mentality; and that's to get better. We've all been seeing it. I can't sit up here and judge players – that's not my job – but from just completing the football to him, throwing routes out there and just watching him detail his work, I've been pretty impressed.
Q: How different is the offense from last year?
A: We're not different at all. We added a couple pieces up front, different things like that, but we're doing the same things that we've been doing. We're just trying to perfect those things.
Q: What does it feel like to be the leader and this is your offense, now in your third year instead of the first in terms of owning the huddle?
A: It's great. You walk in that huddle, and all 10 guys, eyes are on you, and it's silent. And talk about having total control, I love it, and I've been able to sit back and watch Chad Greenway, the way he leads the defense. Brian Robison, Everson Girffen and Linval Joseph, those guys have command when they walk in those huddles. It's the same on the offensive side of the ball. "Sully" [John Sullivan] may be talking before I get in the huddle, talking to the linemen and things like that. "C.J." [Charles Johnson] might be talking to the wide receivers. Adrian [Peterson] and the backs and tight ends might be talking, but when I step foot in that huddle, it's all silent. They're all tuned in, and that's one thing I like about these guys. We all follow each other. [We have] great leaders on this team.
Q: There's no contact in these workouts, but what have you seen from WR Laquon Treadwell?
A: Like I said, I'm not qualified to judge players and things like that, but Laquon is coming along well. We drafted him in the first round for a reason. You put the tape on, you watch him throughout his college career, and he's making big plays, he's doing great things across the middle for his quarterback. So, I'm excited to have him in that room. Those guys are excited to have him, and they're all going to just continue to push each other, try to elevate each other's games.
Q: With all the people saying that Teddy Bridgewater is going to take a big step in year three, is that putting any extra pressure on you or anything like that?
A: Not at all. For one, I pay no attention to what's being said outside of these walls. The only thing that matters is what my coaching staff tells me and what [General Manager] Rick Spielman wants me to do and what the Owners say. So, we know that on pen and paper, you can't win football games. We have to continue to work. Like I said, we have two days left for mini-camp, and we'll continue to just build and build and get better so that we can go into this summer feeling good about ourselves and come back into training camp with the right mindset.
Q: It seems like you and TE Kyle Rudolph had a better rapport by the end of last season. How are you feeling working with him this spring?
A: I love Kyle. He's a great player, and he's an even better person. He's reliable on and off the football field. He's a guy you can call and be like, "Hey Kyle, do you mind coming out to one of my events?" And he won't hesitate to say yes. So, Kyle, he's a great guy. He's great in the locker room with the guys, and on the football field, he's always in the right place at the right time. When we're not in together on the playing field, we're on the sidelines talking about different things that we can improve on. So, I consider him another quarterback because of how smart he is. He understands the game. He understands what the coaching staff wants us to do, and he wants to know where the ball is going. So, he's studying the plays as if he was a quarterback, and that's the type of guy you want on your team.
Q: What do you think it was toward the end of last season that helped you guys start to click a little bit better?
A: It's just trust. Think about it, my first year and Kyle was a little banged up. And then last year, we started off a little slow, but as we continue to trust each other … I remember Coach Zimmer coming up to me and telling me, "Hey, trust Kyle. Trust him a little more." And hearing those words just told me to understand what the coaching staff is asking of me and just continue to build trust in Kyle, and he's going to come through for us.
Q: What will you do between now and training camp?
A: I'll probably get together with the guys again, have another "Teddy Two Gloves Passing Academy," something like that. That's what the guys call it, but we'll probably get together again, workout, spend some time with my family and that's about it. Over these next couple weeks, there's not time to take a step back. Training camp is right around the corner, so I'm going to continue to just prepare myself physically and mentally so that when July 28th comes, I'm ready to go.
Q: Teddy, you've been with Head Coach Mike Zimmer from Day One together. How would you say the team imitates his personality the most?
A: This team works, and that's what Coach Zimmer wants. He wants a tough football team, and this team is very tough. Even though there isn't any contact going on right now, you just see the guys and the way they work in the weight room, the way they work out on the football field during individual periods. It's a team that has the mindset of a head coach that wants them to be tough, and I'm glad to be a part of this team.
Q: Is there a certain weight that you'd like to play at?
A: No. I just get with strength staff and just see where they want me to play at. For the most part I'm just going to do the little things to prepare my body for this upcoming season.
Q: Are you thinking about t-shirts or hats for the Teddy Two Gloves Passing Academy?
A: (laughter) I might have to do something. Get the two gloves and might have to call my guy Obadiah to make an introduction song for it or something. But, I don't know. It's just something that the guys just make up. You know we just love when we get together and we all just take ownership when the coaching staff isn't there because we're the coaches on the field. We coach each other up. You know I can't wait to get with the guys this summer.
Q: Did you ever ask the veteran defense players for advice or did you just watch from afar?
A: It was both. My rookie year my locker was next to Linval Joseph. And every day I used to just talk to him. Just pick his brain and things like that and Everson Griffen is another guy that I talk to. When you watch those guys every play, those never take a play off. They've worked extremely hard and they're vocal guys and they have that mindset that they're the best in the league at what they do. So, just watching those guys the way they compete, the way they prepare before games you know it just motivates me to be just like those guys.
Q: Was there anything that they told you specifically that really stuck out to you?
A: You know there's so many things that I've been told over the past two years from these guys, so I just soak it all in. I'm like a sponge. Whenever someone is talking I don't say much. I just sit back, listen to what they're saying and copy and paste it into my leadership.
Vikings Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs
Q: Why have you guys been able to be a little bit more efficient with the deep ball plays?
A: All the time that we've spent together that offseason in that passing camp that Teddy (Bridgewater) had. Just the time invested and the energy that we put forth. Teddy looks really good just as far as spinning the ball. He looks strong too. He looks strong and in shape, so he looks top of the line as far as team camaraderie.
Q: How is the comfort level different for you than last year?
A: Having a year under your belt really helps a lot. I mean as far as you've been around and you've seen it. You've seen how your coaches want things done. You've how the players work. We've got a lot of veterans and the time they put forth, you just know how to carry yourself mainly. Just for me not having to do the combine and all those other things and really just train to be a better player for this team really goes a long way. So, big steps.
Q: Do you see Teddy just letting it loose a bit more in practice?
A: He's just a guy that makes great decisions all of the time, so as far as letting it loose that's not my department. I'm just the guy to try to get open and catch the ball. He looks good to me. He looks no different. As far as taking chances, I thought he did well before. So, I think he's doing amazing now. So far as his development, I think he looks good.
Q: Have you seen any new wrinkles from the new coaches so far in mini-camp?
A: Not to my knowledge at least. We look pretty much the same. I mean new coaches, new staff and everybody is trying to get adjusted and working towards that one goal mainly.
Q: Due to the success from last year, have you set goals for this year?
A: Not at all. As far as going into a new year, you got to know that everything you did last year is now unacceptable. You can't fall short. All those things are in the past. It's not about what you did yesterday. It's all about what you did today and tomorrow. So, everything I did last year I can smile I guess, but there are better things to come and a lot more work to be put in.
Q: Do you have a point of emphasis to work on for your game?
A: I mean having an offseason for the first time I got to work on strength, conditioning, speed and (my) all-around (game) really. This time last year I was just coming off the combine, so we're working 40's and now I'm working on routes and getting better just to help my quarterback.
Q: What's up with the short-shorts?
A: (laughter) I wear short-shorts. I mean that's what I like. Maybe that's just me. They (his teammates) make fun of me for it all the time, but I'm not going to stop.
Q: You look like former Utah Jazz PG John Stockton
A: (laughter) Oh yeah. My mom said that. She said, 'you're back in the day basketball.' So, I think that's cool.
Q: How do counteract the notorious wide receiver sophomore slump this season?
A: Just as far as being a professional you know, studying the game. As far as a sophomore slump, I don't know too much about that. You've just got to become more of a professional and work extra hard and do the things that you're supposed to do. Then things will fall into place the way they're supposed to.
Q: What are some things you like at WR Laquon Treadwell's game?
A: You know that's not my position. I'm not a coach to assess a player, but as far as brother-to-brother and teammate-to-teammate I like the way he works and that's been my guy. So, as far as how he works or what he does he goes hand and hand. Everybody in the room works the same way. Just having another dog in the room just pushes everybody, so team.
Q: Did you reach out to him right when he was drafted?
A: Yeah I did. I congratulated him, welcomed him to the family and looked forward to work.