Before heading out on the golf course for their annual Vikings Children's Fund charity tournament on Thursday, players wrapped up their organized team activities in preparation for the final phase of the offseason – next week's full-team minicamp.
But after a veteran minicamp before the draft, a rookie minicamp the weekend following the draft and a series of 10 OTAs, head coach Mike Zimmer said he isn't necessarily "satisfied" or "fulfilled" with where his team is at this point.
"They're never where I want them to be yet," Zimmer said Thursday before heading out on Rush Creek Golf Course in Maple Grove for the charity tournament. "Satisfied and fulfilled is not really in my vocabulary. So, we've still got a long way to go."
The Vikings have had solid participation among their roster of 90 players during the "voluntary" portion of the offseason. Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings each missed some time last week for personal reasons, as did John Sullivan this week, and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater missed two days the previous week while attending the NFLPA's Rookie Premiere in California. Others, like Matt Kalil, Linval Joseph, Josh Robinson, Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo haven't been able to practice during much of the full-team work while recovering from injuries or surgeries.
Fifth-round pick David Yankey, an offensive lineman, joined the team on Wednesday after missing the previous three weeks of OTAs because he had classes to finish at Stanford. First-round linebacker Anthony Barr and third-round defensive end Scott Crichton were also forced to miss practices after the rookie minicamp because of schoolwork, but they will be back next week for the mandatory minicamp.
Overall, though, it's been nearly full-team attendance while new offensive and defensive schemes have been installed.
We still put a lot of things in. We pared it down a little bit today just because we wanted to get out there on the field and no coaches helping them and kind of go from there," Zimmer said. "But we'll pick it up again next week and start going back. I think we're starting to get an idea of where guys can be successful. That's really part of the OTAs and the minicamps, to try and figure out what our guys can do and put them in a lot of different positions to figure out what are their strengths and what are their weaknesses."
Zimmer said the coaching staff intentionally threw a lot at the players with the new schemes in order to see where each player can excel and where a weakness may need to be concealed. Throughout the last month, players have talked about the volume of plays and the learning required, but they also have said they are slowly becoming more comfortable in the systems.
"I do feel like we're getting better. I feel like we're coming together as a football team. I think the effort that they've been given, if we'll continue to do that, the fans will be excited to watch us play," Zimmer said.
"We did some good situation stuff (in the last OTA), went really quick and got everybody off the field, so it was a little more game-like situations. It was good. It's impressive."
Then it was off to the golf course to raise money for the Vikings Children's Fund and entertain fans who paid to play with coaches, front office staff and players.
"I used to golf a lot. But I have not golfed probably in a year and a half," Zimmer said. "It's just, you know, the time commitments that you have. I used to belong to a country club in Dallas when I was there, so I used to go hit balls quite a bit."
Now, instead of trying to hone his swing, Zimmer's focus is on getting his players in rhythm with their new schemes. To that end, it's coming together, just never as quickly as he would like.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Zimmer: Impressive progress, not satisfied
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