Thursday, August 3, 2017

Morning Notes: Zimmer discusses the weakside linebacker rotation

Photo: Star Tribune

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media Thursday, following the team’s morning walkthrough. Daniel House provides a recap of his remarks. 

Updated: August 3, 2017, 2:15 p.m.

By: Daniel House

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media Thursday, following the team’s morning walkthrough. He discussed a wide range of topics, including wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and the starting weakside linebacker spot. 

Weather Adjustment 
The Vikings took the field for a morning walkthrough Thursday as the temperature plummeted to near 60 degrees. It was nearly a 20-degree swing for the players, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said these are challenges the team must overcome throughout a 16-game regular season.

“There’s a lot of different things that are going to happen throughout the course of the season,” Zimmer said. “Things are going to come up that we’re not expecting. So today’s the first test to see how they go out and respond to a different change in weather.”

A Laquon Treadwell Update 
Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell participated in the morning walkthrough each of the last two days, but did not practice during the afternoon session Wednesday. When asked whether Treadwell would practice Thursday, Zimmer said, “I don’t believe he is.”

It is unclear whether Treadwell suffered the injury in a practice scuffle with safety Antone Exum Jr., but he will likely miss another day of practice. 

Bradford and Emotions
After fielding a question about being tackled by quarterback Sam Bradford during a touchdown celebration Wednesday, Zimmer discussed Bradford's leadership role.

“I think part of it is being a leader of this football team,” Zimmer said. “So I have been talking to him a little more about taking charge. I just have been talking to Sam a little bit more about showing a little bit more emotion.”

The quarterback certainly showed emotion when he knocked his coach to the ground in celebration, but Zimmer joked that he "doesn't hit that hard."

Kendricks' leadership, tight end skill-sets
Linebacker Eric Kendricks is one of the key leaders on the defensive side of the ball and Zimmer isn’t concerned about how he communicates with his teammates on the field. He still believes Kendricks is learning how to be a more vocal leader, but he likes the way he is progressing.

“He’s not quiet on the field, really,” Zimmer said. “He is very communicative and I do think he’s a little bit still feeling his way. We’ve got some other veterans that do express their opinions a lot.”

In addition to tight end Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings will have two tight ends seeing extended action in 2017. Veteran Rhett Ellison exited in free agency and David Morgan, along with Bucky Hodges will be asked to fill the void. They both have different skill-sets and will be used differently in the system.

“Bucky is more of an open field guy that is trying to learn how to block and David is more of a blocking guy that is trying to learn how to be more involved in the passing game,” Zimmer explained.

Floyd's potential as a weapon
Zimmer is also excited about the potential of wide receiver Michael Floyd and feels like he will provide value after he returns from a four-game suspension. Not only has Floyd been making an impact with his wide catch radius and strong hands, but Zimmer has been intrigued by his long speed.

Zimmer said, “I think he’s getting a lot better. Obviously it’s a different system, but he’s been progressing well.” He added, “I think he’ll be a good weapon for us.”

With Laquon Treadwell missing valuable reps, the team might really need Floyd to step up in early October. 

The weakside linebacker job 
The looming decision for the Vikings will be who wins the starting weakside linebacker job. Will it be veteran Emmaunel Lamur, young player Edmond Robinson, or rookie Ben Gedeon? The team isn’t in the base 4-3 system much, but must improve against the run and pass when they are deploying the package. Zimmer said the team is in no hurry to name a starter and will continue rotating players into the mix, including rookie linebacker Ben Gedeon.

“Probably not until after we see them in some live action,” Zimmer said. “I’m going to look at Gedeon there, too. There’s really not any big hurry. Maybe, hopefully, the third preseason game, but if it’s not, it’s not.”

Gedeon played almost exclusively at middle linebacker at Michigan and wasn’t tested in coverage on a consistent basis. However, Zimmer will continue to provide Gedeon with reps at middle and weakside linebacker spots. 

“[Gedeon is] playing [in the middle and weakside] right now. I thought he had a good day yesterday,” he said. “[Gedeon is] a guy that finds the football. He’s physical getting off of blocks.”

Running backs in pass protection
Over the last few practices, the running backs have been tested in pass protection and Zimmer is pleased with the progress they are making as a unit. Zimmer noted that fullback C.J. Ham has been “solid” and running back Dalvin Cook has been “pretty good.” However, he said 1-on-1 drills can be deceptive when analyzing the pass protection skills of running backs.

“It’s a little bit of a disadvantage when we’re doing the 1-on-1 pass rush drills because the defense doesn’t have to worry about anything, but trying to beat that one guy,” Zimmer said. “So it’s a little bit of disadvantage for them, but they’re getting better at it.”

1 comment:

  1. Pretty sure that stupidity Treadwell showed injured his hands. Might just cost him his job this year. Coley and Adams are hungry and ready to play! Cut our loss and move on. Williamson 2.0!