EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has liked what he’s seen from third-round draft pick Alexander Mattison thus far.
Mattison was one of four rookies to make it into the end zone Friday night at New Orleans.
In addition to his receiving score, the running back also totaled nine carries for 30 yards on the ground in his pro debut.
Zimmer spoke to media members Sunday afternoon and was asked about Mattison in the context of vying for a spot behind starting running back Dalvin Cook. Ameer Abdullah and Mike Boone also are in the mix.
“I think Mattison’s got a really bright future,” Zimmer said. “I think the other two guys can help with change-of-pace situations.”
He added that Mattison will need to continue working on pass protection, an element of the game he has emphasized for running backs before.
“The other two guys, smaller guys, if they’re going to be in there on third downs, we’re going to have to block bigger guys, so that’s going to be part of their deal, as well,” Zimmer said. “I think we feel like they all can run, they’re all smart … but it’ll come down to third downs and those areas.”
Following practice, Mattison also spoke to media members. Zimmer’s comment was relayed to him, and he was asked by a reporter what he has done to make such an impression on the head coach.
Mattison maintained his humble, soft-spoken nature that already has become his off-field calling card.
“Um, I’m not sure. I just come out here and try to work hard every day and get better every day,” Mattison responded. “I try not to make the same mistakes twice, so it’s just a process. As long as I stick to that every day, try to get better every single day, then I have the opportunity to [improve].”
The rookie said he doesn’t have the entire playbook down yet but is putting in plenty of study time.
“I’m not the person to ever be satisfied, so I know that there’s a lot more, way more, that I can be on top of,” Mattison said. “But I’m definitely starting to get comfortable with the base stuff and starting to branch out into different things. I’m just trying to work at it every day.”
Zimmer was happy overall with Minnesota’s run game in its first preseason game.
The Vikings racked up 213 yards on the ground, including a 64-yard touchdown run by Boone.
View exclusive images shot by Vikings team photographer Andy Kenutis as the Vikings and Saints competed against each other in the first preseason game of the year at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Zimmer referenced former Dallas Cowboys Barry Switzer, who had a specific philosophy on running the football:
“He talked to them all the time, ‘It might be a 1 [-yard gain] here, a 2 here, and then a minus-1 here, and then pretty soon it’s a 13, then it’s a 20.’ They’re not all going to be explosive runs, but the idea of sticking with it and having that mindset that, ‘We’re gonna pop one of these in there eventually,’ and we popped a couple,” Zimmer said. “And also, it’s going to help in the play-action. Because the linebackers, they’re trying to [defend the] run, and the safeties are trying to [defend the] run, and that’s kind of what happened on those two plays.
“To see that happen the first time out, it’s nice,” he added.
Like father(s), like son(s).
Vikings fans received a potential glimpse into the future when a video was captured of Kirk Cousins’ son, Cooper, “passing” the football to Adam Thielen’s son, Asher, who turned and ran excitedly with the ball.
Cousins later retweeted the video with the caption, “Bring on the RPO.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz enjoyed connecting with Minnesota natives Thielen, C.J. Ham and Brandon Zylstra, as well as Zimmer on Sunday.
Vikings Women Day
Verizon Vikings Training Camp hosted its annual Vikings Women Day, an event that spanned several different activities.
Vikings Women once again integrated a “give-back” focus, this year partnering with NFL Huddle for 100 and VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Help People) to pack 1,000 snack packs for the Twin Cities community. All of the materials were procured through HandsOn Twin Cities. They also teamed up with the American Heart Association to promote women’s heart health.
In addition, women could purchase tickets for the VIP Tent experience, which featured a raffle for unique memorabilia items, massages, customized tumblers, and food and beverage. Also part of the VIP experience were appearances by the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, General Manager Rick Spielman and former Vikings wide receiver Matthew Hatchette.
Vikings defensive tackle Shamar Stephen signed autographs for and took photos with the group after practice.