Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Well we finished up the minicamp today. I thought it was a very crisp practice, I thought the guys were into it. Sometimes at the end of something they can kind of get a little bit lackadaisical, but we did a nice job today in practice. Honestly, I will probably miss these guys for five weeks. It's been a good five months and we're excited to get back and get going in Mankato.
Q: Did you get some clarity on a few questions you may have had at the beginning of the offseason?
A: Yeah, we still have got some questions that we are trying to answer, things that we're trying to figure out, but I have a much better feeling for the players as far as how to coach a lot of them. What they're all about, how they learn, how they respond to certain situations. Today we had some great situations out there in the two minute drill. I think we as coaches are learning a lot about them.
Q: What was your message as you broke the huddle after practice?
A: I gave the message mostly this morning in the meeting, about these next five weeks and how important it is and about being together as a team and everybody is counting on one another to come back and do what they're supposed to do in the offseason here. I told them about my expectations. Then it was actually great to have 13 former Vikings here. It was important to me that we as coaches and players honor these guys that have come before us and I think the players really liked it and I think the alumni liked it a lot too. It was fun. I told them they were welcome here any time.
Q: Did you tell the players you would miss them?
A: No. I did not tell them that and I probably won't.
Q: How do you feel like the Pac-12 guys did this week?
A: Very well, very well. They all did a nice job. Obviously, they were a little behind on some things but as far as catching up and getting the techniques down they did a nice job. It's a good group.
Q: Is it frustrating to only have worked with the Pac-12 guys for only a few practices?
A: I don't know if frustrating is the word. We all kind of know the way the structure works. We'll have plenty of time in training camp. We will have enough time, I counted it up, I said the other day, it was 20 practices and 20 walk-thrus before the first game, but it's the first preseason game, so we will be alright.
Q: What did you learn about this team now that you've seen them practice?
A: I learned that we have got good guys on this team. I think that Rick Spielman and the scouts have done a good job of getting quality people in here. I learned that they want to win. I learned that they work real hard, they get along with each other pretty well for a bunch of guys from different backgrounds and different places. I learned a lot about their personal lives, but to me it's about how hard they work, how hard they study. It's impressive to me. You come into a new situation and you could have guys that aren't team guys, or people use the term buy in, I don't know exactly what it means, but these guys, I told them today that I appreciated the way they handled myself and the coaches coming in here and doing what we've asked them to do. The things that we believe are important to win in our program.
Q: What are your impressions of Brian Robison?
A: I love him. He's a hardworking, energetic, smart, very, very good athlete. We've got so many guys that have the great character and the great heart, he's one of those guys.
Q: What have you seen from Josh Robinson now that he's been able to get back on the field?
A: He missed some time, Josh has got great acceleration, he's got great speed, he's still got some technique work he's got to work on. But I thought he did a good job out there today. He's still a young guy that's learning. Trying to get him to understand the techniques that we are playing, he missed, I don't know, two weeks or something like that with his hamstring. He was a little bit behind, but I think he progressed this week pretty well.
Q: He seems pretty happy to be out of the slot?
A: I don't know, we always look for guys that can play corner before we look for nickel guys. You can't ever have enough corners anyways.
Q: What are you going to do in these five weeks off?
A: I'm going back down to my ranch in Kentucky for a little while, probably stop in Dallas. Go see my parents down in Naples. Get on the tractor I guess.
Q: What are your impressions of Adrian Peterson as a person?
A: He's great. He's done everything that we've asked him to do, he's done, even more. One day during the OTAs he came to me and said, "I've gone pretty hard the last couple of days, I might need a little time off today." I said, "Okay, do me a favor, go out on the field and stretch and then we'll hold you out." I told the running back coach after stretch, shut him down and so he went back to Kirby Wilson, he said, "You know, he's feeling pretty good, can he keep going?" I said, "Sure, let's go." I think he likes competing, I think he likes being around the guys. He's a good guy. I've had several conversations with him when I first got here and I have the utmost respect for him.
Q: Have there been any surprises or anything about Adrian Peterson that you didn't know before you got here?
A: From watching him on tape, you know he's fast, you know he's powerful. Some of the cuts that I've seen him make out here are just outstanding. The way he catches the ball is very, very good, I didn't know what kind of receiver he was. I guess that would be the two biggest things. Some of the cuts he made are like, wow. Like some of the great backs that you've been around.
Q: Adrian Peterson said that he wanted to improve on his pass catching this offseason have you seen that?
A: Yeah, I think I've seen him drop one ball the whole time and that was probably yesterday, I think. He catches the ball good. Obviously, when he's got the ball in the hands he's extremely dangerous. I think he caught one out here today on a flat route or a swing route or something. It's good, it's good. I think obviously, having a guy like Norv Turner, who he respects and he wants to continue to get him the ball in different ways. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think he's happy.
Q: What's your approach to rookies in general to get them rolling?
A: I've never had a problem playing young guys. We've had guys when I was in Dallas that we drafted guys that started the first day that they walked in. Several guys in Cincinnati, Geno Atkins played a ton, Carlos Dunlap played a ton his rookie year. We expect them to play.
Q: Is it ever a risk to start a quarterback too early in his career?
A: I don't know that it's a risk. I think with that position you have to weigh a lot of different factors, how the defense is, where you're at in the progression of things, maybe more so at that position than if you're talking about a safety. Just handles different things. We as the Vikings are not afraid to do anything. We're going to make sure that we're diligent in getting this team prepared the best that we can and we're hoping that we can continue to compete for jobs and we get the best guys out there that are ready to go. The one thing we never want to do is we never want to hold back progress here. We want to keep progressing, whether it's playing younger guys or getting better out on the field we always want to make sure that we aren't hindering progress.
Q: Do you have a date you want to name a starting quarterback by?
A: I probably have a date in my mind, but I'm not going to tell anybody.
Q: It is important for a veteran like Adrian Peterson to have fun out here?
A: I think a lot of times when you work hard you have fun together. When guys are working hard it's nice to have fun but it's more important that we work smart, we work hard, we get better each and every day. We want to have fun, but fun isn't my number one priority. If they're having fun and they're working hard then that's a good thing.
Q: What was it like having some of those alumni here?
A: It was great. I think the players really liked it, the alumni liked it. As I told them today in the team meeting that it's important to me that these guys that have come before us and given all of these players opportunities that they have now that it means a lot to me I guess because I've seen so many guys. I grew up and I knew who Mick Tingelhoff was and I walk down the hallway upstairs and I see his jersey when I walk by. Rich Gannon, who I've talked to numerous times. I want our players that play here to feel like they're always going to be welcome and the ones that have played here in the past I want them to feel like it's welcome because it's a family. The NFL is a family anyway, but I want this to be a special family, that they're welcome anytime. They can come here, I told them they can have lunch with us at any point but I think that the players really appreciate it, I think they liked hearing about it. I think they understand that 10 years from now that they might be one of those guys that are standing there and it was nice for the players to applaud them all when they came up.
Q: How did your first spring session go as a head coach? How do you think it went and what needs to be worked on before training camp?
A: I feel very secure in everything that we've done to this point. I'm not in awe of any aspect that's happened so far. I think the players have helped a lot in that way in making it easier to step into a new situation and I told them that I appreciated that. The coaches have done an outstanding job. Going from where I am at now personally, it's now about working, starting to study game situations and things – when to throw the red flag, when to call a timeout, all of the different scenarios that happen. That will start to become my focus on areas that I need to get better on.
Q: Yesterday Norv Turner mentioned that as a first-year head coach you rely a lot on the people around you. Is that the case?
A: Definitely. I've relied a lot on Norv. It's been great having him here and not only Norv, really all of the coaches. Andre Patterson I've been with a long time, Jeff Davidson I've always had a lot of respect for him, George Stewart, we played golf together the other day, not by choice but we got paired up together but it was good to get around a more social situation. You talk about a lot of different things and that's how I think you get close. You get to know one another and feel free to talk and communicate and voice your opinions. I feel good about the staff and being able to rely on people, yes.
Q: What are your expectations of this team on and off the field?
A: Well I told them that they want to be professionals. I want to make sure that everybody understands that we've got a bunch of guys counting on one another. I told them basically what I told you the other day – we'll have a conditioning test and the reason why is because I want to make sure that everybody is accountable to one another. I stated to them when I first got here what I expected of them off the field and what kind of citizens we want here and how we want to represent our fans and how we want to represent the NFL and we've done a good job of that in the offseason. I feel good about the direction of the people but a lot of that goes back to Rick Spielman and the type of guys he's drafted and brought in here. They're good people and so that helps a lot.