The Minnesota Vikings officially open up Training Camp 2019 tomorrow Friday, July 26th with players reporting to the facility today to check in.
After what has to be dubbed as a disappointing 8-7-1 finish to the 2019 season, the Vikings headed back to the drawing board this offseason adding new pieces through the draft and free agency and fine tuning some of the schematics behind the scenes to right what went wrong last year.
But that's in the past now, according to head coach Mike Zimmer they've completely "moved on from last year."
"We’ve moved on from last year," Zimmer said. "Every year’s a new year, so it’s time to move on and go from there. We talked about things we need to do better this spring, but now it’s all about moving forward, where we have to go and how we have to approach things to get there."
Zimmer met the press earlier this week to preview camp. You can check out his press conference in the player below with the transcript below that provided by Vikings PR.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good morning, good to have you all back. We’ll be doing this a lot I’m sure here in the next five months or whatever it is. It’s good to get the rookies back in here. Good chance for us to slow the pace down. Teach, give them an opportunity to refresh what did in the spring, I thought we finished up good in the spring obviously and just part of the journey that we’re starting out here this morning. Get the vets in here on Thursday and we’ll get going to work.
Q: Is this an opportunity to recall?
A: Some. It’s another chance to teach play calls, alignments, different things like that. Obviously, we went pretty fast in the spring so these guys won’t recall everything, some of them, but once they get in the playbook and start getting to the point where they’re going, ‘Oh yeah, this is how we did this in the spring and this is how we did it.” We’re going to keep moving forward these three days and we’ll go back again after three days so they’ll get back to refresh on the first part.
Q: What did you notice that works with bringing players in early versus not doing it?
A: I felt like a lot of these young players now, they have to play so much sooner than when you have a whole bunch of veteran guys. I think that one year that was the rookie class that didn’t really give us much that year so I figured the more that we can kind of help them with these kind of things, the faster they can get up to speed. They might be able to help us a little bit more.
Q: What kind of changes are you making on defense to help the offense?
A: I would probably in baseball term I’d probably say fastball, fastball, changeup, fastball, fastball, throw a slider in there once in a while—just give the offense a couple different looks that they have to work on and things like that.
Q: Do you use last year as motivation?
A: We’ve moved on from last year. Every year’s a new year, so it’s time to move on and go from there. We talked about things we need to do better this spring, but now it’s all about moving forward, where we have to go and how we have to approach things to get there.
Q: How involved are you with the churning of the bottom of the roster?
A: Like the guy yesterday, not much. Rick (Spielman) and George Paton, Ryan Monnens, they do a really good job of keeping everything up to date. (Bill) Parcells used to talk about churning the bottom of the roster all the time just like you did. So, I talk to them about our guys and where we need to get more improvement and they’ll bring me guys and talk about maybe this is a guy you should look at and kind of go from there.
Q: Does he know what you’re looking for by now?
A: Yeah, they have a list obviously of guys that are available, talk about the waiver wire every day, go through the waiver wire. I’ll go through the waiver wire and a guy that I might know, I might have looked at before or something like that, then we get together and we talk about those things.
Q: Is that a matter of creating competition?
A: Not so much that, It’s not motivation that way. I wouldn’t put it that way. There’s a lot of guys on the street that have the ability to play in the NFL if they get in the right system, or they might get a different type of coaching or whatever it is. I think it’s just an opportunity. Even when you’re talking about practice squad guys, guys that get a chance to coach them for a little bit of time and see how they respond with and go from there.
Q: Does experience at tryouts influence whether you add a guy or not?
A: We’ve been really successful with those kind of guys. We’ve had a lot of guys that have been through a rookie tryout that we end up signing. Like I said a minute ago, there’s players that are not playing NFL football that can still play. Whether it’s the league that just folded or the XFL that’s coming up or whatever it is, there’s going to be players in those leagues that end up playing and if you find the right fit or the right niche or the right system, they have an opportunity to play and help you.
Q: How would you characterize Garrett Bradbury?
A: He’s a brilliant kid so that helps a lot. He’s going to have a big load and a time like today will help him get back into the groove of things a little bit. He’ll get help from the veteran offensive linemen and Rick (Dennison) and Andrew Janocko.
Q: Will Garrett Bradbury have to assert himself a little bit more as a center and what do you see from his personality?
A: He’s got a very business-like personality, wants to be right, wants to do things the right way. I think he’s got an aggressive nature. I think he’s going to fit in fine.
Q: Will it help to have guys next to him who have played that position before?
A: Pat (Elflein) had to make all the calls before and like you said, he got help from (Nick) Easton and all those other guys. I think it always helps to have somebody who has done that job before. I’m sure there will be times when Pat will have to, or Kirk (Cousins), will have to correct Garrett (Bradbury) on some of the things.
Q: Will George Edwards take over some of the defensive play calling?
A: I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.
Q: Will training camp be easier being a second year in this facility?
A: Logistically I think it will be a little bit easier because we’ve been through it. As far as practice and things like that, it probably won’t be any easier.
Q: What do you want to see from the young running backs, Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone?
A: The biggest thing for those two guys, Alexander (Mattison) and Mike (Boone), is really the protection part of things, the pass routes that they have to run, making sure they’re precise on those, carrying the ball for those guys is pretty natural. The other parts really got to get in certain routes, the read routes, they have to go out instead of in, they have to block this linebacker or that linebacker or whichever one comes or the pass off with the offensive line. Those things are all things that take the most time for running backs.
Q: What’s the difference between rookies today and rookies when you first started?
A: Well, they don’t’ have to go through two-a-day with full pads right out the get go every single day. Probably not much. The biggest thing I do think has changed quite a bit since I first started is guys would eat McDonalds and all that stuff. These guys are pretty careful about what they put in their bodies and the nutrition aspect of things, the weight lifting. All the different things that they do now is much more sophisticated, the sleep. All the recovery things that they do is much more sophisticated.
Q: Does Garrett Bradbury being more business-like change the other guys’ approach?
A: Not necessarily. Each guy is kind of different. Some guys need to be more business-like I guess, so it’s just really their individual personalities.
Q: How much time were you able to get away and how much time did you spend on football during the break?
A: I think we’ve got a couple interviews coming out on that but I was away quite a bit. I didn’t do a whole lot of football, a little bit here and there. Had a couple coaches I sat and visited with, watched tape with, things like that, but not much. I was gone pretty good.