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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Eden Prairie, MN - With a little extra time built in for Vikings players to get together with their new coaching staff and install new offensive and defensive sets, the Minnesota Vikings kicked off voluntary mini camp Tuesday with perfect attendance.
With day one under their belts and their first taste of Mike Zimmer's coaching style implanted, Vikings players met the media Wednesday to share their thoughts on the new scenario.
"[Coach Zimmer] is not one of those ‘rah-rah’ guys that’s going to do a lot of talkin," veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings explained. "He’s going to put a lot of action into what he’s speaking. It’s one of those deals where accountability is priority No. 1. He’s going to make sure everyone in this building, including himself, is accountable for what they bring to the table and what the expectations are for this organization."
To no one's surprise, Zimmer has been a bit more hands on with the defensive side of the ball early in minicamp as he attempts to not only install his new defensive schemes but focuses on breaking some bad habits that may carry over from the previous administration.
"I keep straying over to the defense a little bit," Zimmer sheepishly exclaimed. "I spend a lot of time especially with the defensive backs, because I do feel like I’m an expert in that area...I think I’m fairly good at it, and so I’m going to try to use my abilities as best I can."
From day one, Zimmer was very clear about his intentions to push the limits of the players to learn what they can and cannot do. With one day in the bag, it sounds like that's exactly what he's doing.
"They’re testing us, there’s no doubt about it," defensive end Brian Robison said. "They’re definitely testing us. They’re putting in a lot of stuff to see how quick we can memorize those types of things, to see how we play on the run. Very fast tempo during practice. Those type of deals that put not only a physical strain on you, but mentally. That’s what we need. We need to be able to really push ourselves and see where that treshhold is for us."
With Zimmer involved heavy with the defense early, it's been Norv Turner running most of the show on the other end of the field. Turner may be a different person from Zimmer with different experiences, but the intensity from Turner early is right on par with that which Zimmer is demanding from his players.
"My head is spinning," Jennings said after Wednesday's morning walkthrough. "Even though the offense is coming and it’s starting to sink in. Just with all the different change-ups we can present to the defense, the different looks, the different formations we can run the same play, the different variations that comes within the same play. Your head is spinning at all times until you have it down."
"Literally I’ve had to erase everything that I’ve learned in the past and completely start from scratch," Jennings added. "Which is exciting because we’re all in the same boat. Especially with what he brings to the table, the different variations, it’s exciting. It can be overwhelming, which today in practice it probably will show that it’s a little overwhelming, but this is Day Two, so we’re excited."
So far, players have been arriving early to meetings, early to practice and staying late to put in a few extra reps with the hope of understanding the nuances of the new schemes.
"They're learning," Coach Zimmer said. "It's a process for them. It's a lot of new things. It's new terminology. It's new calls. I'm assuming they're being coached differently. I know I'm coaching it probably like they haven’t been coached before, so I think all of that is new for them.
"I've been very impressed with a lot of the guys, and a lot of guys are slower to pick up. But you can't base on one practice that this guy is going to be a pretty good player, because as I said we're moving on and trying to keep improving. Our big goal from this camp, I told the players, is we’re trying to start the process here where we can keep improving and build a great football team. I don’t care about individuals; I care about our team. And I've always believed that the more we can get guys in as a team and play good, then we have a better chance to win."
Minicamp runs through the end of this week.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN