Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
We just finished the walk-through, we had Alan Page come and talk. Well, he was here so I asked him if he would say a few words to the team. He was very enlightening, a very, very smart person, and he had a good message for the team. That was good, I love having former Vikings here, the alumni and it was a good thing. Today we are going to be out in shells, I told the team last night if they make me happy I make them happy. They get to take the shoulder pads off today.
Q: What was Alan Page's message to the team?
A:* *Just a lot of the same things I said, actually, not that I'm the smart guy but he just talked about what it takes to win, what it takes to be a great player, what it takes to just be good, really.
Q: How is your game plan shaping up for Friday?
A:* *Good, it's good, it's very simple. Really what we are trying to do in this football game is I want our players to play fast and I want them to not have to think about what their assignment is, so we will be very, very basic in everything we do, we are trying to evaluate our players on their athletic ability, not on how fast they're thinking about everything going, what this call is, I do that, this formation, I do this. We just want to go out and play and really it is going to give us a good judge of where we are at playing against some other people. We have been going against each other now for 10 or 11 days and it's good to line up against somebody else and find out where we are at as a football team. If any of the stuff that we are practicing are working.
Q: How has Xavier Rhodes been looking at corner?
A: Good, he is doing well. Like I said before, he has a lot of ability, we have to keep refining his technique, he is such a young guy I have to keep teaching him about the game, the situations in the game and different things that receivers do. I'm pleased with his progress.
Q: How has Xavier Rhodes taken to your coaching?
A:* *I have changed a little bit how I have approached trying to teach him. I am a little bit softer, I guess, the way I handle it and just see how that goes and he seems to be doing good that way. It's about every player you try to figure out what buttons to push.
Q: Where do you think Rhodes has gotten better?
A:* *I think a lot he has been better off, when he is playing off, that was one of his weaknesses early on. He has done that a lot better, he understand the coverages much better, he understands all the calls, the alignments of where he is supposed to be. The press technique we still have some work to do, he has great recovery speed but he has improved in about every area.
Q: Do you want the first team offense and defense to get a certain amount of series, and are they different?
A: No, we've talked about how long we want to play them. I told the team be ready to play the whole game if I feel like it.* *
Q: Is the psychology different handling players as a head coach?
A: It's not so much as a head coach, only because that is what you do anyway as a coach but me not knowing these players as well. Sometimes if I get on them pretty hard how they react. Honestly, sometimes you're getting on a guy so other guys understand what is going on too. I mean there are a lot of different reasons why you do things. I just try to get our players to play the best they can.
Q: Will Teddy Bridgewater get any reps with the starters?
A: Teddy will get some reps with the first team, yes.
Q: What are you looking out of Teddy Bridgewater as far as promoting him to play with the first team?
A: Just how he handles the game situation. When the lights come on, it's a different deal. It'll be good for him and how he reacts to seeing different defenses that he hasn't seen very much of, how he has to readjust the blitz, how he gets the ball out and make the right calls, how he plays under pressure. I anticipate he's going to play very well.
Q: Norv Turner has mentioned improving how quickly Teddy (Bridgewater) gets the ball out, has he improved on that over the course of camp?
A: I noticed that he's trying to do more even today in the walk-throughs getting the ball, trying to get the ball out. I was talking to Rich Gannon some yesterday about young quarterbacks, it's trying to get the game to slow down so they anticipate kind of the things that are going on and then once the ball is snapped their anticipation, what they see, confirms what they're anticipating to happen. It takes time with young guys, but he has so much talent and so much ability, such a good kid, works so hard that it'll come. We've been giving him a lot of looks on defense and honestly, that's by design. When he's in there, I try to give him a lot of different things because I know that's kind of what he's going to see. He's handled it well. There are times, obviously, he's gone the wrong place or thrown the ball wrong or got the protection the wrong way, obviously, but that's why we practice.
Q: What kind of feedback does Matt Cassel want and how does he approach being coached?
A: Matt's (Cassel) good. Norv has been great with him. Sometimes you have to tell Matt, you have to remind him, that we've been doing this a long time even though he's been doing it a long time. Sometimes you have to do that. He's great about it. Say, "Just throw the ball here and that's it. Do this or do that." But he's good. He's been very good. He's been very diligent about his work. He worked real hard in the offseason. It's the first time in the offseason, I believe he told me that he's done the things he's done with strength training, actually, he worked with a baseball pitching coach and some of the motions and things like that. He told me he's never done that before in the offseason. He's come in, he's done great. We're very, very fortunate that we have three quarterbacks. I still believe that, I think (Christian) Ponder is going to go in there Friday night and do a nice job too.
Q: Was that Tom House that he was working with?
A: It might be. I'm not sure. He told me and I can't remember. I'm sorry.
Q: What are your impressions of Brandon Fusco?
A: Tough guy, I like him, doesn't say much, physical, improving every day. Wants to be good, I think it's important to him. The guard position in the NFL is not typically as good as some of the tackles and things but I think he's on course to be a very, very good player.
Q: What has impressed you about Jasper Brinkley and the experience he brings at middle linebacker?
A: Well Jasper (Brinkley), he's doing a great job getting people lined up. He's doing a great job anticipating. I think he's catching onto the system pretty well, and actually all of the defensive guys the last couple days have started settling in a little bit. I hear the communication better, I see the alignments a lot better but his alignments are good, he's getting in the right place, he's got some thump when he hits you. For him, it's same thing with these other guys, when we get out on the field Friday night, do they go haywire or do they sit in there and they keep doing what we've been coaching them to do. That's really what we're looking to do, see if they're doing what we've been coaching them to do.