EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –During a pre-practice stretch on the first day of Vikings minicamp Tuesday, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson caught Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer as he walked by.
"I'm going to get better today," Patterson told Zimmer.
Zimmer told Twin Cities media that Patterson's comment seems to reflect a honed-in mindset for the receiver heading into his fourth NFL season.
"He's not making mental errors – very, very few mental errors," Zimmer said of Patterson. "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."
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater echoed Zimmer's sentiments on Patterson and said he's noticed the same focused mentality.
"Just from sitting back there throwing the ball to [Cordarrelle], he has looked good," Bridgewater said. "He's a guy that works extremely hard. Every day, he comes to work, and he has one mentality — 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," Bridgewater added. "But from just completing the football to him, throwing routes out there and just watching him detail his work, I've been pretty impressed."
After an impending thunderstorm over Winter Park cut practice a couple of minutes short, Zimmer met with media and covered a number of topics from day one of minicamp. Here are some highlights:
Peterson focusing on versatility for 2016
Following the 2015 season, running back Adrian Peterson said a goal for the offseason was to become a more versatile weapon in the Vikings offense. Zimmer said that Peterson, who attended all 10 of the voluntary organized team activity practices before this week, has shown it's a focal point. According to Zimmer, two specific plays during Tuesday's practice reflected the things Peterson is working on with the coaching staff.
"There was one play down in the red zone early, that I hadn't seen him make that cut before," Zimmer said. "And a lot of times, that's the one that you hit the big ones on. Then there was another play out of the [shotgun] later on that I thought he made an excellent read and cut out of it."
Hunter wants to get things right in year two
Defensive end Danielle Hunter is coming off a strong 2015 season, in which he made his rookie debut and recorded 6.0 sacks, good enough for second on the team and second in the NFL by a first-year player. This offseason, Zimmer said Hunter's work ethic remains impressive as he looks ahead to his sophomore campaign.
"He works really hard," Zimmer said of Danielle. "He's probably a little bit bigger and stronger than he was [last year]. But Danielle is a guy that continually tries to do things right. There are things we're working on to get him better, but I thought he's looked good."
Watching for consistency on the offensive line
One of the biggest sets of adjustments the Vikings have made during the offseason is to the offensive line. After bringing in offensive line coach Tony Sparano and adding guard Alex Boone and tackle Andre Smith in free agency, Zimmer is looking for things to come together on the field. He said one thing he's specifically watching for is the linemen to be a cohesive group.
"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," Zimmer said. "You watch the linebackers, and they look like twins taking the same steps. When you watch the defensive line, the way they take their steps and the way they use their hands."
Zimmer said, in watching the offensive line, he's noticing a similar unity.
"What I'm seeing with the offensive line, everything is looking the same," Zimmer said. "It's a lot of different things, and it's still a work in progress.
"I haven't asked any of the [offensive linemen] if they like it or don't like it, because I don't really care," Zimmer added. "But I do see improvement on the things that we're trying to teach and we're trying to get them to do."