MANKATO, Minn. — Mike Zimmer looked at the man who molded him watch images of the Vikings team that the head coach is trying to mold.
Zimmer traveled quickly to Florida this week — only after finishing practice Monday — and returned Wednesday on an off-day for players to get back to his "other family." He said having his three children, including linebackers coach Adam Zimmer, make the trip "was really good for my mom."
After leading the Vikings through Thursday morning's walk-through, where he received an ovation from fans, and afternoon practice, Zimmer was hoping that a procedure on his father, Bill Zimmer, went well, but he had not received an update when he met with Vikings beat writers.
The Vikings second-year head coach said his father was having a procedure done on his back about two years ago and a nerve was hit, which has caused multiple complications. Zimmer said his father was a little less yielding for the nurse, but was more willing to appease requests made by Zimmer. The coach, who often talks about building a smart and tough team, showed his father footage from training camp.
"He's way tougher than I ever was," Zimmer said. "Hopefully today's procedure went good. If today's procedure went good, then we'll eventually get him to a longer-term facility."
Vikings "being careful" with Barr: Zimmer said the Vikings are "being careful" linebacker Anthony Barr, who was sidelined with "a little inflammation" and has been rehabbing in a therapy pool.
"Our plan is to continually get him ready for September 14," Zimmer said. "It's frustrating on his part and our part both, but it's legitimate. We anticipate he'll be back quick."
The Vikings plan to expand and enhance the role of Barr in 2015 to build on an impressive rookie campaign that included starting the first 12 games before a knee injury sidelined him. Zimmer said he thinks Barr will be able to jump back in without missing too many beats.
"The good thing is he's been very smart and he's going through all the walk-throughs," Zimmer said. "He's just not getting it at full-speed. He's not making mistakes. He doesn't make mistakes so I'm really not concerned."
High marks from AP: Teddy Bridgewater spoke on Thursday about one of his favorite aspects of rookie receiver Stefon Diggs, who also has impressed Adrian Peterson since organized team activity practices this spring. Peterson doled out high marks for Diggs and rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks during a media session after practice.
"One thing I do know is talent and both guys are talented," Peterson said. "I kind of joke with Rick Spielman but he's doing a heck of a job recruiting guys and bringing good players to the team."
Defense tries out virtual reality system: Zimmer was asked if the defense had incorporated the STRIVR virtual reality system into its teaching and learning and said it's happened "a little bit."
"It's really more the offense's deal," Zimmer said. "We're trying to figure out ways we can help the young linebackers see formations."
Playing time remains a question: Zimmer said he hasn't decided how much starters will play Sunday when the Vikings open the preseason against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday Night Football. The decision could be affected by what he sees from the squad. Zimmer planned to show some tape to the team from its two-minute drills during Tuesday's night practice to "try to get some stuff squared away on both sides of the ball."