Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
It’s good to be back. We’ve had a couple good days of workouts so far. Guys are working hard, and I like how the coaches are coming together with the things they’re trying to do and the teaching aspect of this time of the year. We’ll keep going and try and keep getting better every day.
Q: Are you concerned that Stefon Diggs isn’t here?
Q: What do you like about Jordan Taylor so far?
A: He’s a guy that’s got good height, catches the ball well. I think he’s been running good routes. His acceleration out of the cuts has been nice.
Q: What is it about him that makes him a good fit as a punt returner?
A: Gary [Kubiak] thought he was a good football player, so that was the connection there.
Q: How does Xavier Rhodes look to you?
A: He’s doing better. Getting back to the technical things about his game that he has to do. We saw some things in the offseason, some things that he needs to continue to work at. We’re helping him do that, and he’s been a really good student with trying to do what we’re asking him to do.
Q: It didn’t look like Linval Joseph was taking many repetitions in team drills. Is that for rest?
A: No, he had surgery in the offseason.
Q: What are you looking to see from the new pairing of Kirk Cousins and Garrett Bradbury?
A: I look at the combination of everything. They’re both good guys, they’ll get along great. There won’t be any issues there. I think Garrett is going to be an excellent addition to this team. He’s a smart guy, a good guy, and a good leader so far.
Q: Pat Elflein wasn’t able to participate much last offseason. How has he looked this time around?
A: Well it’s been two days, but I think he’s done very well. He’s still very athletic, you see the strength starting to come back. Being able to have the offseason, I think that’s been good. So far so good.
Q: Are you optimistic that Kyle Rudolph’s contract situation will be resolved and that he’ll be on the team this year?
Q: Why do you believe so?
A: Because both sides are working towards it. And he’s under contract.
Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins
I will start by saying I am glad to be back. Good to get on the practice field. It is good to get the bad taste out of our mouths from last year. It was disappointing the way the season ended. We are excited now to be building toward 2019 and to continue to build team chemistry, which is what OTAs start to become about is just spending time with one another and developing with new teammates and getting to know the rookie class and getting to know a new system. There is a lot of work to be done and we only have about 11 practices left. We have to take advantage of every day and looking forward getting [Stefon] Diggs back tomorrow. That will be fun to have him back.
Q: Were you favoring your leg out there today?
A: I tweaked it a little bit yesterday but I’ll be alright. I am trying to get the reps out here rather than sit out and not play. When you do that then you’re going to have a little bit of a gimp to you.
Q: What have you seen so far with Garrett Bradbury?
A: He’s a class act. He tucks his shirt in every day. I think that sends a message right there. He is ready to work. He’s got his shorts tied tight, tucked in jersey. I respect that. From there he is a hard worker, he is a smart kid, very mature. I look forward to him being here a long time. I said, “Garrett, last year I think I worked with, from the time I got here in April to the end of the season, probably four centers. That is less than ideal.” I said, “I’d like to have you and I work together for about the next decade if that is okay with you.” So we’ll see what happens but that would be my goal and I think the organization’s goal. I just tried to set that vision for him to say, “You be the guy here for the next ten years and let’s not have to worry about having anybody else snap for the quarterback.” He’s got a long ways to go to do that but he’s got all the right stuff and we’ll just keep stacking days on top of one another to get him where he needs to be.
Q: What do you look for in communication styles as a quarterback to know Garrett Bradbury is taking those steps?
A: Well you sit around at the breakfast table and you just get to know him as a person and understand he has his head on straight. There’s maturity there. That is a good place to start. That is what all those meetings are about at the Combine, the Senior Bowl, and those kinds of things to get to know players as people. Because ultimately to win, you have to have good people. If you are a great athlete but not a great person, eventually it is going to catch up with you. I think they’ve done a good job of bringing good people into our locker room. Garrett is certainly a great person so he is made of all the right stuff. He just has to learn how to block people like Linval Joseph. I joked with him today, I said, “You see Darth Vader over there? You are going to have to block him. You ready?” I think it’s been to our advantage Linval has taken a couple days off here but when he gets back, it’s for real. That is the challenge, just getting caught up to speed with blocking the best in the world.
Q: How does it feel starting here in the offseason compared to last year?
A: I’ve always felt in football that continuity is a big part of having success. Being able to be back for a second year should help. There is more of a command. I can take a little more ownership and a little more control than maybe what I had last year. Then you add the fact that it is a new system so there is still some level of starting over a little bit. I look forward to having continuity the best we can, and the better you play and the more we win, you are able to keep that. Players stick around, coaches stick around. That lends itself to having more success. That is what we are working towards.
Q: Has there been a change in terminology in the system?
A: There has been a lot of changes. A lot of changes. Terms, formations, motions, the way we even philosophically are handling things. But I think it’s a positive thing. We are excited about the scheme, about the way it’s designed and about the philosophy behind it. I think there is a big track record through the years of Coach [Gary] Kubiak having success. I love that Kevin Stefanski has been around Brad Childress. He’s been around Pat Shurmur. He’s been around Norv Turner. He’s really seen some of the best offensive minds of the last two decades. He’s been around them. That really helps him pick and pull from all of that to create the 2019 Vikings offense.
Q: Have you looked at old Kubiak offenses?
A: Yeah, I watched a lot. Going back to really when he got to Houston, watching those cut-ups. So I’ve seen a lot of Owen Daniels and Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson and Arian Foster and all the way through the sheriff [Peyton Manning] in Denver and watching him play. Even some Trevor Siemian cut-ups, too. That has been good. We have cut-ups, too, from when Kevin was here as an assistant from back in the day with Coach Childress and Norv Turner. We’ve got it all. Kevin jokes that, “Go back to our cut-ups from all of the installs and you could watch film for days,” because we have just about the entire history of the NFL in that cut-up.
Q: What is the potential to have Irv Smith Jr. and Kyle Rudolph on the field at the same time?
A: Is that a West Michigan Whitecaps hat? I like that. Having Irv Smith and Kyle on the field at the same? I think it’s a win for us. I think that Kyle has done so many good things for so long and so to have him out there is a great sense of comfort. When you add Irv’s youth and athleticism that is a great plus. You have five eligible on every play no matter how you cut it, you have five players that are eligible. You want to get the best five and the right mix and the right match. You just try to get the best players you can out there, whether it is receivers, tight ends, running backs. But do something that is going to put pressure on the defense. And I do think having Kyle and Irv out there as a combination should be able to do that.
Q: Do you know anything about Jordan Taylor yet?
A: Yeah, I really like him. He’s a diamond in the rough. He’s got some stuff to him. Not only does he have some juice, but he’s been on the details. If a route calls for him to get to 14 yards, he gets to 14, he doesn’t get to 13. If it’s a double move, he runs a double move with the right technique. He gets to the right spot and catches the football when it’s a tough catch. I love playing with people who are on their details and he is that way. He is going to be a big asset and probably one of those players who is quietly acquired, but ends up being anything but quiet come the season.
Q: Q: Are you surprised at Kyle Rudolph’s decision to participate in OTAs despite contract speculation?
A: No surprise. Kyle is going to be consistent and be the guy he’s always been. We love him for it, and it’s why he’s played as many years as he has and had so much production and has stayed healthy. It’s not by accident, it’s something that he’s worked towards and built towards. I think his future is bright and he’s got nothing to worry about.
Q: What does a healthy Pat Elflein do for the offensive line?
A:I think it will be a great help. He’s getting a lot of work in at guard, and obviously he can play center too. He’s had a lot of production and a lot of plays, and he’ll take another step here in year three. And know for me as a player, I took my biggest step year four. We’re always developing and improving, and I see Pat doing the same thing this year. He’s one of the funniest guys on the team to me, it’s kind of a sneaky funny. I also like that too, because he makes practice a little more joyful than it otherwise would be.
Q: You had to work with multiple centers last year, learn timing and snap counts. How do you take that into this year, anticipating how long it may take to pick things up with a new center in Garrett Bradbury?
A: It’ll take time, but you have to remember that it’s May 22nd, and not September 10th. We have time, and we’ll use it and take advantage of it, but the hope is that Garrett’s here for the next decade. As much as there may be some growing pains to get to where we want to be, I think that’s okay as long as we can have that continuity. Where it gets tough is when you constantly have turnover at that position. Hopefully Garrett will be the guy for a long time.