Waynes gets early, high praise from Zimmer
The Minnesota Vikings held their first rookie minicamp practice on Friday. After several hours with the players, head coach Mike Zimmer had high praises for first-round draft pick Trae Waynes.
Zimmer was impressed with how quickly Waynes was able to pick up what the coaching staff was teaching.
“We just worked together for a little bit today and this is way, way early. But he did seem – I told one of the coaches, for a young guy and trying to teach the technique that we’re doing, he caught on probably faster than I’ve ever had a guy in the first day,” Zimmer said.
That is high praise coming from a coach who has tutored players such as Deion Sanders and Terence Newman.
Waynes was appreciative of what his new head coach had to say about him, but he didn’t try to focus on it very much. Instead, he just said that he is trying to work hard and learn the defense.
“That’s a huge compliment,” Waynes said. “But I’m just trying to do my best to pick up what they are saying and learn it as quickly as possible.”
The cornerback said that a lot of the techniques the coaches were teaching him were ones similar to what he had learned in college. That is one reason he was able to pick up on them so quickly. But even though he understands them better than other players might, he understands that he still has a lot to learn.
Waynes realizes that there are high expectations placed on him since he was a first-round draft pick and he wants to be able to live up to those expectations, one of which is to earn a starting spot at the start of the season.
“I’m coming in to compete and whatever happens, happens,” Waynes said. “I’m going to compete and try to get a starting spot. If not, I’ll work my way in on special teams and try to contribute to the team as much as I can.”
The first step in earning that starting spot is for Waynes to learn the playbook. He thinks this is the most difficult thing to be doing right now and said he has had his head buried in it trying to learn all the new plays and terminology.
That is why he said he always is asking the coaches questions so he can learn it faster. During the first minicamp session, Waynes was often off to the side with either Zimmer or defensive backs coach Jerry Gray after a play, being coached up about something.
“It’s pretty difficult, but if you can relate it to your old playbook and try to find similarities in it,” Waynes said. “Just ask as many questions as you can and try to understand it gets easier over time.”
Right now Waynes believes he is the only one standing in the way of earning a starting spot at the start of the season. He understands that he is competing against other players who are more experienced than he is, but he feels he just needs to be able to push himself.
“My whole mindset is play as hard as I can, as fast as I can, and just try to make an impact,” Waynes said. “I’m competing against myself and obviously I’m competing against other players, but I got to push myself at this level. And my big thing is just to go out and compete.”
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