As we start the final week of Training Camp for the Minnesota Vikings. . .yes, as long as it took for us to get here, it’s nearly over already. . .we got another opportunity to hear from Mike Zimmer about a variety of topics. Naturally, there were plenty of questions about the offensive line, but there were several other topics that were brought up during today’s press availability as well.
Below is the full transcript of the question and answer session with Zimmer today, courtesy of the folks at the Vikings’ Public Relations office.
Q: What stood out to you about the two big runs Latavius Murray had?
A: He’s been running well all camp. The thing I liked about it is the acceleration through the hole when he found it, and he dropped his pads when he gets contact. But he’s been doing that all camp, so he’s looked really good.
Q: How do you think Rashod Hill has looked since returning from his illness early in camp?
A: Rashod is doing a good job. He’s an extremely athletic guy that has been getting better and better. Sometimes later in the game his concentration leaves him a little bit, so that’s where we’ll have to extend him more plays so he gets used to doing those things. He’s done a really nice job, he’s moving well in the running game, when he sets good in the passing game he’s really hard to get around. He’s done some good things.
Q: How was Tom Compton looking? Are you thinking he might settle in at the left guard spot?
A: I don’t know yet. We’re still looking and we haven’t made any decisions that way, but he played pretty well the other night, was solid. He really didn’t have any miscues in there, so we’re just going to continue to look. We still got a couple of more weeks before we go.
Q: What makes Aviante Collins a good fit on the interior, particularly where he was at left guard?
A: I was just sitting there one day, and I said, “Let’s just look at him at guard and see what he can do.” Run-game wise, the footwork is similar between a guard and tackle, so that’s not a big change. But pass sets are different, things happen a lot quicker in there, but he’s a very, very athletic guy. It happens a lot quicker in there, so that’s kind of the thing we have to find out about with him. He’s got a little bit of a nasty streak, and that’s good. He’s a big guy, so I just thought let’s look at him.
Q: How difficult is it to move a young player between the guard and tackle positions?
A: Like this week with Aviante, when we went from tackle to guard it kind of took him a series to get back and say, “Okay, I got to do it this way now.” That will come, but it’s good for him to do those things, because on game day he could play almost anywhere.
Q: When you get together with another team to practice, what are the key parameters that you establish with the other head coach?
A: The biggest thing is that we want to get work done against a good team. It’s important that our guys know that we’re not going to put up with any trash talking, we’re not going to put up with any fighting. We’re not here for that, we’re here to get better. Hopefully our guys will know that, and they’ll have the same thing. Coach Marrone and I have talked about it. We’re really all about getting work done, we don’t way to get in any kind of conflicts like they apparently had in Washington. I didn’t see it, but things like that.
Q: Do you have a history with Coach Marrone at all?
A: Not really. Adam [Zimmer] was with him in New Orleans, and I know Tom Coughlin pretty well. They have done quite a bit, so when they called me I just expressed my concerns that I don’t want this to be a fight or anything like that, I want to go out there and try and get better.
Q: Now that Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler are not going to travel here with Jacksonville, does that take any value out of this?
A: They’re a good football team, went to the AFC Championship game last year. Whoever they bring, they bring, and whoever they don’t, they don’t. We’re just going to go out and try to improve. They’re defense is very similar to a lot of defenses that we’re going to face this year schematically, so I think that that will be good, especially for our offense. They’re a downhill, power running football team, which is going to be good for our defense.
Q: Is there anything you got out of the joint practices in Cincinnati in 2016 that you’d like to see happen again?
A: Yeah, I got to go to the ranch for about three days, that was the number one reason. No, schematically everything was pretty similar defensively to both sides. We got a lot of good work done I thought that week. It was really, really hot and humid. I’m thinking back on it, but it’s always good when you get to go against A.J. Green. We get to go against [Leonard] Fournette this week. We’re not going to be pounding him or anything like that, but it’s good to see great players on the other side of the ball.
Q: What were your impressions of the backup running backs on Saturday, such as Roc Thomas and Mike Boone?
A: All three of them, including Mac Brown, had some very good runs. We missed a protection one time with one of them that got us a sacked. But they showed some explosiveness. I was actually pleased with those three guys, hopefully we can continue to work with those three and see where that leads.
Q: On defense, how did you think Mike Hughes applied the techniques he’s been taught during camp?
A: Mike did very well for the first time out. We were talking about some of our other corners and how their first game out was a little bit different compared to his. I thought that he played really well. He made a couple of nice tackles, the deep ball down on our sideline that he covered, I thought he was going to intercept it. He made a blitz one time when he was at the nickel and tackled the running back from behind. He did a lot of very good things, it was a good step in the right direction.
Q: How about the special teams and in the return game?
A: Yeah, you know he dropped the one ball which was not good, but he probably got what was there. We need to do better on special teams overall then we did the other night. That was not good enough so we are going to put a big emphasis on that now.
Q: What does Jaleel Johnson’s position flexibility allow you to do as you try to build the depth of the interior defensive line?
A: The biggest thing is on game day we can possibly dress one less defensive lineman because we can move guys around. It is good for him because it is two different techniques when you are playing nose and when you are playing the three-technique. It is good for him to do both, and it allows us to see what he is doing better, is this better or is that better?
Q: Is there anything you noticed when watching the film of the first offensive drive?
A: What I was probably most impressed with was the way we came off the ball with our offensive line. I thought we were physical up front, I thought we came off the ball well, and we did a nice job getting to the second level with the linebackers. I have been saying this in practice, our guys have been coming off the ball [well], it looked like it does in practice. So those things were really good. I think the footwork for the most part with the offensive line when they were in there was good. There were some other things, obviously Stefon Diggs’ catch. Kirk Cousins’ one-yard touchdown pass that he threw was a heck of a throw. He was getting pressured, he got it out quick and stuck it in there. People probably don’t appreciate that kind of a play as much as the one down the sideline. That was a really good throw.
Q: What was your impression of Brian O’Neill and Jalyn Holmes?
A: Jalyn did some good things. What he has been working on is, especially in the running game, it is kind of a different animal, you have to bow up and get thick and used to the pounding. I thought he did that better the other night. He showed some flashes in the pass rush. I wouldn’t have given him the same grade that Pro Football Focus did though. Somebody told me what his grade was. I didn’t look at it obviously. Actually, O’Neill played pretty well. Some of the things we were working on that he had been doing previously, he did not do, which was good. In the running game he was pretty good. Getting in the second level, blocking his guys. I thought he improved this week, yes.