EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings and Dolphins have met just 11 previous times and haven't faced each other since 2010, but there's familiarity across the coaching ranks.
Minnesota Head Coach Mike Zimmer worked with Miami Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle for four seasons in Cincinnati (2008-11), Vikings Defensive Coordinator coached Dolphins linebackers the previous two seasons for Coyle under Head Coach Joe Philbin, who was a Packers assistant for nine seasons prior to the current role he began in 2012.
The reunions will occur at noon (CT) Sunday when the Vikings (6-8) visit the Dolphins (7-7).
On the surface it would appear to create an "I know he knows what I know" way of counter thoughts, but execution can be more critical than scheme.
"He knows what we do, a lot of stuff. I know what they do, a lot of stuff," Zimmer said. "I'm sure he's communicating with their offense and I'm sure I've communicated with our offense, but really at the end of the day it comes down to blocking and tackling. You might sneak one play in here or there, you'd think they'd do this or that. I've played against guys that have been with me before, and then they'll run a play and you will say, 'Ah, I told them about that,' or something. It's one play here or there."
Edwards, who also coached Miami's linebackers from 2005-09 before becoming Buffalo's defensive coordinator (2010-11), said "it's just another game."
View images from the Thursday, December 18 practice at Winter Park.
"It's a chance for us to go get another W. All of the concentration and focus is on that," Edwards said. "I know a lot of guys over there on the other side, at the end of the day we've all got a job to do."
Zimmer said he's impressed by Miami's defensive front and "two really good corners" in Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnnegan. Grimes has five interceptions on the year, which is tied for third in the NFL.
With so much changing for Minnesota since Philbin was with Green Bay, it's less about the past and more about the current roster.
"Their defense is playing really fast and aggressive, Philbin said. "They're playing extremely well. It's a well-coached team overall. Offensively, I think they're a team that's improving. I think Coach Zimmer has done a great job there."
BULK LOAD:Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner was asked about plans for the running game down the stretch and said he anticipates Matt Asiata will continue to be Minnesota's primary back because of the way he's carrying the ball, catching it and helping the protection scheme.
Asiata rushed 11 times for 36 yards at Detroit against the stingiest run defense in the NFL and added seven receptions for 50 yards, often finishing rushes and receptions with yards after contact.
"Matt showed, I think he's shown throughout, but he showed in the game that he's a guy that gives us the best all-around running, catching, protection," Turner said. "He had an outstanding game, so I would expect Matt to get the bulk of the work and when there's opportunity to get someone else in there we'll do it."
PARTICIPATION: For the Vikings: Kyle Rudolph (ankle/knee), Charlie Johnson (ankle), Robert Blanton (ankle/knee) and Anthony Barr (knee) did not participate in Thursday's practice. Linval Joseph (knee), Sharrif Floyd (knee), Greg Jennings (hamstring) and Matt Asiata (foot) were limited. Brian Robison (ankle), Xavier Rhodes (wrist) and Andrew Sendejo (thumb) fully participated.
For the Dolphins: G Nate Garner (illness), T Dallas Thomas (foot) and RB Daniel Thomas (knee) did not participate Thursday. TE Charles Clay (hamstring), CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle), LB Jonathan Freeny (hamstring), LB Jelani Jenkins (foot), S Don Jones (shoulder) and LB Koa Misi (hamstring/knee) were limited. CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder), LB Chris McCain (ankle), LB Jordan Tripp (shoulder) and S Jimmy Wilson (ankle) fully participated.