EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Mike Zimmer hopped up on a training table inside the Winter Park fieldhouse Thursday for his weekly informal session with beat reporters.
It's a long way from where he was one year ago.
Zimmer had emergency eye surgery for a detached retina on Nov. 30, 2016, the eve of the Vikings hosting the Cowboys. The procedure forced him to miss his first opportunity as a head coach against the Dallas team where his NFL roots began in 1994.
It was the third procedure for the head coach who first discovered a problem with his right eye last November. He has undergone multiple procedures since and even was forced to take some time away to rest and recover from another procedure during the Vikings offseason program.
Zimmer has worn glasses or contacts this fall, and the anniversary prompted a series of questions about the status of his eye.
"I don't think it will get any better," Zimmer said in response to a question from a reporter about 8 feet away in a semicircle around Zimmer. "I don't think it will get any worse.
"I can see you, but you're a little cloudy," Zimmer explained to the questioner, Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press. "I have some blindspots in my eye, so when I look and I'm reading the chart, I have to [squint]. Some days, I get it 60/80, some days it's 20/5. They count it if you get a couple of letters on that line, but I kind of have to peek. I have to have a contact in, too."
Zimmer, an avid sportsman off the field, is learning to shoot his bow and hunting rifle with his left eye.
"I can't hunt with it. I have to hunt left-handed because I can't see the peephole in my bow," Zimmer said. "The rifle, I can't see distance, so I have to, I use a scope and I shoot lefty now.
"The clay birds are the hardest because you're left-handed and it's opposite," Zimmer added.
Zimmer stayed connected with players during his time away this spring. He watched film from afar and frequently swapped text messages, determined to help his team fare better this season than in 2016.
Minnesota lost for the sixth time in a seven-game stretch against Dallas last year, but this year is riding a seven-game win streak into Sunday's matchup with Atlanta.
Zimmer was defensive coordinator with the Falcons in 2007 before holding the same role with the Bengals from 2008-13.
He has helped the Vikings go 9-2 so far, building a three-game lead in the NFC North with five to play.