In January, just weeks after being hired as the Vikings linebackers coach, Mike Singletary said at the Senior Bowl that he couldn't wait to get his hands on the team's group of linebackers.
Almost three months late, he's still waiting. Singletary said last week that he still hasn't talked to any of his linebackers, even on the phone. He had the opportunity to talk to them up until NFL owners locked out the players in early March, but since then NFL teams have been restricted from talking to their players.
For now, Singletary said he has seen all he needs to know about the linebackers by watching film.
"That tells me everything I really need to know. You look at them enough on film and you get a feel for the personalities and what they're about. I'll see them soon enough [in person]," he said.
He would have had that opportunity last weekend if the lockout was off. The Vikings had a veteran minicamp scheduled in which head coach Leslie Frazier was hoping to introduce his players to the new schemes, philosophies and coaches taking root under his leadership. But since players aren't even allowed inside a team complex during the lockout, Frazier was forced to call off that minicamp and can't firmly plan for anything after the draft if the labor situation isn't solved or a court ruling isn't made that puts the players back to work under a temporary agreement.
"I just think that it gives us that much more time to be creative in terms of the way we want to present what we're trying to present to the players," Singletary said. "Obviously you would love to be coaching, but it's just not the case right now."
The fact that Singletary hasn't coached E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway or free-agent-to-be Ben Leber hasn't stopped the Hall of Fame linebacker from the Bears from forming his own opinions of the group he will be in charge of under defensive coordinator Fred Pagac.
"It's a very solid group. A very good group, with the opportunity to be a very special group. I think that's the thing that I'm really excited about," Singletary said.
"The linebackers have a lot to do with this defense. They're very active in the defense and any way that I help make those guys better just makes us better as a group."
Singletary said in January that the Tampa-2 defense the Vikings run is "totally different" than anything he's been part of in his past. But that might also mean he can bring an interesting element to the defense that hasn't been there before.
"I think overall, I think Leslie, there are some things that he wants to see. I think [Pagac], there are some things that he wants to see," Singletary said at the Senior Bowl. "… Maybe a little more creativity in the overall scheme. I'm excited about that."
After having time to get to know Pagac personally and the players on film, Singletary said last week he thinks the Vikings can be a "special" defense.
"Just been very exciting to look at where we are as a defense and feel that we can be a very special defense," he said. "Just continue to really look at things that we need to change, need to tweak and we'll go from there."
The biggest question is when he'll be able to start working with the players.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Film is all Singletary has relied on
Viking Update Top Stories
Vikings try to keep the faithThe Minnesota Vikings are in dire straits with their playoff hopes, but they believe they have the “grit” to win out and make the playoffs.
Viking Update12:12 PM
Zimmer returns to work, expected to travelThe Minnesota Vikings got head coach Mike Zimmer back on Monday.
Viking Update7:20 AM
Just Win (Four), BabyThe Minnesota Vikings need some help to make the playoffs. They didn't get much Sunday as Detroit and Tampa Bay improved their own postseason stock.
Viking Update5:52 AM
Sunday slant: Don’t blame BradfordSam Bradford has been getting criticism from some fans and observers, but a look at numerous analytics, and an overall view of the game, shows just how good he has been without…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 1:57 PM