Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is deep into preparation for the 2019 season.
In the respite between Vikings minicamp and the start of training camp in late July, however, he spent time recuperating and re-energizing at his home, Zimmer Ridge Ranch, in Northern Kentucky.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin visited the ranch this summer and delved into the life of "offseason Coach," as Zimmer's youngest daughter, Corri, refers to him. Cronin wrote:
Much of the design is based on the Dallas house where he and Vikki raised their three children. That … Corri recalls, was her mother's dream home.
"She would have loved this place," Zimmer told Cronin.
Here, 700 miles away from his daily grind in Minnesota, even a man who idles with the worst of them is able to find solace. This place breeds patience and brings out a calm in Zimmer, allowing him to recharge before facing arguably the most pivotal season of his career.
Corri told Cronin that Zimmer is "a completely different person" when he spends time at the ranch.
"He's not really worried about much," Corri said. "A couple weeks back when we were down there, my husband's like, 'He seems calmer this year.' And I'm like, 'Well yeah, the season hasn't started yet.' "
Zimmer points to the place where he had an all-staff get-together several years ago when the Bengals hosted a joint training camp practice with the Vikings. With endless amounts of space to set up a party tent, or even a stage, he ponders the idea of hosting a country concert for the entire organization if the Vikings were to win the Super Bowl.
Which artist is on his short list?
"Someone not that expensive," he said with a laugh.
Click here to read the entirety of Cronin's in-depth feature.
Vikings reserve DBs need to 'step up' and stand out
With three remaining preseason games and roster cut-down day ahead, Zimmer told reporters recently that he's watching for the defensive backs after the starters to separate themselves from the pack.
SKOR North's Matthew Coller delved into Minnesota's secondary situation behind the starters and quoted Zimmer, who said the following:
"We need to [see someone step up], whether it be a safety or corner, at those spots we need to find out who is going to be the fourth or fifth or sixth guy."
Seventh-round cornerback Kris Boyd missed the Vikings first preseason game with an injury but returned to practice on Thursday.
With last year's rookie standout Holton Hill suspended for the first eight games and 2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes still sidelined as he recovers from a torn ACL, the competition for depth spots has become an important one.
In the preseason opener, former AAF standout Duke Thomas saw the second-most coverage snaps, but he allowed three completions for 52 yards in his direction, per PFF. Craig James, who was in camp with the Vikings last season and was brought back during the year when the secondary had injuries, has an opportunity to win a job as a backup nickel corner. In that case, [Mackensie] Alexander would be pushed outside if [Trae] Waynes or [Xavier] Rhodes got hurt.
Journeyman defensive back Bené Benwikere had two missed tackles in his debut. Nate Meadors had a pick-six but only played 13 total snaps.
The safeties had a little stronger game in New Orleans. Sixth-round pick Marcus Epps made several tackles and did not allow a completion his way. Derron Smith broke up a pass and gave up just 10 yards on four throws into his coverage.
Zimmer pointed out that young corners were flagged for pass interference and said there was "some good and bad" from each other performances against the Saints.
"Sometimes they were in the right position, sometimes they weren't," Zimmer said. "Our re-routes, when we were in Cover 2, weren't as good as we need to be. And it's hard to say – this guy, he might have been good on this play, and the other guy [not], so it'll work itself out."