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Zimmer Dissects Vikings Tape for Media

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Mike Zimmer held the remote control and laser pointer like a surgeon with a scalpel and dissected away.  

The head coach of the Vikings hosted Twin Cities media members for the second time in as many offseasons on Wednesday, welcoming them into the team film room at Winter Park for an informal and off-the-record breakdown of game tape to illustrate intricacies of the game, highlight some successes and point out areas in which he wants to see improvements in 2015.

In addition to breaking down technical aspects at multiple positions on offense and defense, Zimmer went through a session on situational football in the two-minute drill, demonstrated coverage techniques with help from defensive assistant Jeff Howard, and went on the record regarding various topics (more on those below).

"This is what I like to do. I like to teach and get in front of a group and talk to them," Zimmer said. "When I was up there doing the bump and run stuff, I felt like I was at a clinic."

Zimmer, a successful defensive coordinator over the years who was hired by the Vikings in 2014, said he considers the session a way to maintain a "good healthy relationship" with the media.

"I'm not trying to tell secrets or anything like that," Zimmer said, "but I think there's some key things we can communicate amongst each other that allow us to both do our jobs better."

The telestration session is similar to the ones that Zimmer leads for the entire team. He said the scope has broadened this year with the benefit of what was taught last year.

"We weren't able to do that last year," Zimmer said. "Now what I'm trying to do, I think this phase (of the offseason workout program) is two-part. It's really good for us to be able to teach them more about the game, not so much about the technique they play or the defense, but how can we do a better job as a team, have everybody in here. I'll ask defensive guys questions about offense and vice-versa so I'm trying to build the team part of things.

"I've asked a lot of the players when we're doing these meetings what they think about it," Zimmer added. "They all think it's good, but one of the things they've mentioned to me is they get a different perspective when they think about the offensive side of the ball or the defensive side of the ball. Things that are going through everyone's mind during the course of the game and can think about it differently than just as a defensive end or corner or something like that."

Zimmer implemented the creation of the film room that can accommodate the entire team last year and has worked with the Vikings training staff to create a recovery room and with graphic designers to give team areas like the weight rooms a facelift.

"I love doing film work and I love motivating guys," Zimmer said. "This kind of is my setting where I feel comfortable with players and ask them questions. A lot of times I ask them questions to find out what they know. I don't want to assume they know what I'm trying to teach them, and the other part is making sure they're paying attention because they don't want to get an answer wrong in front of everybody else."

As to other offseason updates:

1) Zimmer was asked about possible starters at safety opposite 2012 first-round pick Harrison Smith and why the Vikings didn't draft a safety.

"It's open competition," Zimmer said. "We didn't address it because there were other positions that came up. There were some guys on the board that we liked that were gone or we took someone else at that particular time."

The Vikings brought in Taylor Mays, who played for Zimmer in Cincinnati during free agency, signed undrafted rookie Anthony Harris, and returned Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo and Antone Exum, Jr. at the position.

2) One player that won't be added into that blend but is in another open competition is veteran cornerback Terence Newman, who joined the Vikings in free agency this spring. Newman played for Zimmer in Dallas and Cincy and is one of three first-round picks the Vikings have at cornerback, along with Xavier Rhodes (2013) and Trae Waynes (2015).

"No, he won't be a safety," Zimmer answered. "It's come in, compete and see who wins. He's a guy that's played for me for a long time, is very smart, tough, excellent, was the fifth pick in the draft, so he's always a talented guy and has always played good for me."

3) Speaking of first-round picks, Zimmer also was asked about Matt Kalil (fourth overall in 2012), who became a lightning rod of outside criticism, but made improvements down the stretch of his third pro season after some knee issues. The Vikings recently picked up fifth-year options on Kalil and Smith.

"One of the things about Matt, I think, there was one week that I didn't know if he would make it," Zimmer said. "He's never missed anything. He always shows up and tries to fight as hard as he can for the guys. Personality wise, he understands he needs to play better, but there was never a time that he let any of his teammates down by not coming out and showing up. I think he missed two practices the whole year."

4) Zimmer said Cordarrelle Patterson is doing well this offseason. The Vikings began a voluntary workout program April 20 that escalates to organized team activity practices and a three-day mandatory minicamp in June.

"He's running routes good, he's working hard," Zimmer said. "We need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed with the things he's done." 

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