EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Charles Johnson plans to iron out final details as the Vikings prepare to give opponents new wrinkles to handle.
One week from opening the 2015 regular season at San Francisco in the second game of a *Monday Night Football *doubleheader, Johnson listed his remaining to-do list:
"We still have to study more on those guys, what they do defensively and what we're going to have to do offensively to expose them," Johnson said Monday. "There's still a lot we've got to do. I've still got to look at the corners, what techniques they play, how deep their safeties play, what coverages they run the most. It's just a lot that you've got to get into and there's little details. We've got a great group of guys willing to go out there and work hard and go find those things."
With Monday marking the one-year anniversary of Mike Zimmer's era opening with a 34-6 win at St. Louis and the most recent carries (21 for 75 yards) by Adrian Peterson, Johnson said he's looking forward to incorporating a few more plays that the Vikings kept shelved during the preseason after spending several weeks of preparation identifying things the team can execute with the most consistency.
"We're going to have Adrian Peterson back, and he's a huge wrinkle, Johnson said. "Then, we've got Mike Wallace on the offensive side, we have a bunch of guys coming in that are going to be great for us, great assets for our team. We want to show guys we can play this game at a higher level.
Johnson joined the Vikings mid-September last season. He and Wallace, who joined the Vikings this offseason after they traded with Miami, are atop the depth chart.
Wallace, eager to make his regular season Vikings debut, said this preseason has felt longer than in 2013 when he and the Dolphins participated in the Hall of Fame Game. He said it's time for the Vikings to "make plays in real games."
"The preseason is good, but everybody knows guys are going to turn it up 20 notches when it's time to go, so you've got to be prepared, mentally prepared, but we'll be ready."
Wallace said he and the Vikings are looking forward to Peterson's return.
"It's going to be special. He's going to be a guy tweaking to get on the field," Wallace said. "He hasn't played in over a year and is one of the best players the game has ever seen, so I'm excited just like everybody else."
Zimmer said the Vikings still have a "long list" of things to improve and said preparations will shift more toward San Francisco beginning Tuesday.
"There's some coverage things we've got to fix, there's some things in the run game we've got to fix on offense, things like that," Zimmer said.
Center of attention
Joe Berger filled in for John Sullivan at center with the first team offensive line Monday, as Berger did for the final three preseason games.
Zimmer was asked if he is concerned about Sullivan, and said, "not really."
"He's getting better every day," Zimmer said. "We might get him out here a little tomorrow. We'll see."
Berger has played in 99 games with 38 career starts, including opening 18 of the 61 games he's played for Minnesota.
"Obviously we all want the starting five out there," Berger said. "If they can't be for some reason, that's why I'm here."
Berger has been working with Matt Kalil at left tackle, Brandon Fusco at left guard, Mike Harris at right guard and T.J. Clemmings at right tackle. He said everyone on the line is communicating well and working together as one.
"Those guys know what they're doing," Berger said. "They've gotten in here since day one, T.J. (this year), and Mike last year. They've worked hard to learn the offense. They're great athletes and great guys to have in the room. I don't worry about doing anything different with them. They know the calls."
Sirles (rhymes with pearls)
While the Vikings and 31 other NFL teams spent a large part of the weekend reducing their rosters from 75 to 53 players, Minnesota also brought in one player via a trade, when it acquired tackle Jeremiah Sirles from San Diego.
Sirles, whose name rhymes with pearls, joined the Chargers in 2014 as an undrafted free agent. He spent most of last season on San Diego's practice squad and drew attention of Vikings coaches and scouts during this preseason.
"He's a guy that played some last year," Zimmer said. "We watched him throughout the preseason and we just felt like we needed some more people there. We obviously scoured all kinds of rosters throughout this and he was a guy we kind of pinpointed."
Sirles is from Colorado and played collegiately for Nebraska, where he appeared in 53 games and started at left and right tackle. He was the only player among the first 53-man roster of 2015 who did not spend training camp with the Vikings. Click here for his combine bio.
Adding "Moore" size
Nine of the 10 players the Vikings signed to their practice squad participated in training camp. The other, defensive end Zach Moore, attended Concordia-St. Paul before he was drafted in the sixth round by New England in 2014. Moore set the school record with 33 sacks for the Golden Bears.
Moore is listed at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds. He played in eight games for the Patriots last season.
"He's a big guy that ended up playing some games last year. We're always looking for big guys," Zimmer said. "Today was the first day we got a chance to look at him, I think he's got some position flexibility that we can use him in. We'll keep looking."
Click here for Moore's draft profile bio.
Heinicke "a really good competitor"
Zimmer said the decision to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster was in part because of the continued improvement that undrafted free agent Taylor Heinicke made.
Heinicke finished the preseason 57-of-82 passing (69.5 percent) for 516 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and passer rating of 89.3.
"He got better every week from the first day that he came in here until these preseason games," Zimmer said. "I think he's got something to him. He gets rid of the ball quick, he makes good decisions, he can use his legs to get out of trouble and he's a smart guy. I think he's a really good competitor."