EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is expecting more out of his defense.
Minnesota now has five of its 16 full-team training camp practices under its belt, and Zimmer said Thursday morning before the sixth session that he has yet to see the edge he's looking for from that side of the ball.
"We've gotta play better on defense than what we're playing right now. We need to play a lot better," Zimmer said, immediately pivoting from a question about Anthony Harris. "The offense has got a lot of grit and fight, and I haven't seen it much out of the defense, yet. That's where my major concern is at this point."
Whereas the Vikings offense has been acclimating to a largely new coaching staff and learning a new system, the defense has stayed almost entirely intact in Zimmer's tenure.
Maybe that's the problem, he said.
"They've been together for quite a while now, and they think they're pretty good. So, maybe we just go out and practice and it's not [at the necessary] intensity level," Zimmer said. "They're not making mistakes because they've been in the same defense for six years now, and it's a little bit of, maybe, complacency? 'Hey, we're in the top-five defense every year, blah, blah, blah.' "
It seems that most of the starting positions on defense have been set. Asked specifically if that could cause a lack of urgency, Zimmer said he doesn't believe that's necessarily the case but did emphasize that he wants to see a more competitive attitude.
He pointed out that the offense has out-shined the defense in situational drills, including a Wednesday afternoon showing that featured four Kirk Cousins touchdown passes.
"If they want to be great on defense, they've gotta play with a chip on their shoulder," Zimmer said. "I haven't really seen it yet."
The head coach has spoken to some of the players individually but also was asked about how to motivate the entire unit.
"I hope they watch this press conference," Zimmer said with a smile.
Quote of the Day
"I think it's just a different atmosphere. [We'll] have a few more fans out there, get a chance to get out under the lights. They have a day off the next day, so they'll probably let it go pretty good."
– Zimmer on the Vikings upcoming Saturday night practice at TCO Stadium
Headed to Verizon Vikings Training Camp? Be sure and stop by Vikings Table, a food truck run by the Minnesota Vikings Foundation. By purchasing one of the truck's delicious menu items, you will be helping combat food insecurity in the Twin Cities and surrounding communities!
The Vikings hosted a group from Survivor Outreach Services after Thursday morning's walk-through. Several players, including long snapper Austin Cutting, who attended the Air Force Academy, stopped by to sign autographs and speak with loved ones of fallen service members.
Survivor Outreach Services is designed to provide long-term support to surviving families of fallen soldiers.