Terence Newman is feeling comfortable in Minnesota already. The veteran cornerback is able to joke with teammates, reporters and the general manager.
He and Captain Munnerlyn are already hanging out, Newman is able to needle reporters about appearance faux pas, and he called physically fit general manager Rick Spielman “Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But Newman has an especially long-lasting relationship with Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
Whether with the Dallas Cowboys or Cincinnati Bengals, Terence Newman has built a rapport with Zimmer. The former defensive coordinator for each of those teams trusts Newman so much that he put the two sides on a path for a one-year, $2.25 million contract when Newman became a free agent in March.
But Newman obviously feels comfortable with Zimmer, too, giving a blunt assessment of the head coach that seems to reflect Zimmer’s forthright analysis of players.
“He’s got an uncanny ability to get under people’s skin and make them better players,” Newman said of Zimmer. “I was in Dallas with him and (Bill) Parcells and I see a little bit of Parcells in him in some of his mentalities and the things that he believes in, and his teachings. He’s a hard-ass, for lack of better terms, but he also cares about his players. He’s not a guy that’s going to go out there and ride you, ride you, ride you, but he actually genuinely cares about everybody that plays for him.”
Other Vikings players discovered Zimmer’s personality last year in his first season as a head coach, but the 36-year-old Newman has encountered it first-hand more than any other. He experienced Zimmer coming up through the NFL ranks from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator and now, for the last several months, has witnessed Zimmer as a head coach.
Asked what Zimmer is doing differently now, Newman was quick with the response and wit.
“He’s not using as many four-letter words. It’s way different than in the past for sure, and then there’s another word that he likes, it’s kind of hyphenated – I can’t really say. He’s got to spend more time with the whole defense and offense, so it’s a little different just not hearing him yell consistently. It’s kind of good, I guess,” Newman said.
“He’s got to have his attention more on the offense, the offensive line, receivers and on the defensive side. He can’t just focus on one part, but I do see him navigate over to our individual drills quite often. He’s always over there. He’ll never get away from that, I don’t think.”
Probably not. Zimmer’s expertise is in the defensive backs, but he isn’t afraid to offer advice at any level of the defense.
Still, Zimmer’s effectiveness goes beyond the Xs and Os, even beyond his ability to assess the tape better than most, according to numerous former players that came up under him. His interaction with players is usually met with increased success.
“Parcells was more of that guy at that time (with the Cowboys). Parcells would be the guy that would cuss you out and then tell you when you’re doing great. Like, ‘Hey, keep it up. You’re doing a good job,’ just to see how you react to it basically,” Newman said. “There’s going to be bad things that happen on the football field and how are you going to react? If I can get under your skin doing it just verbal, what’s going to happen when you get out there and things go even worse. It’s kind of one of those type of things.”
Even at 36 years old and with first-round draft pick Trae Waynes on board, Newman was still the starting cornerback opposite Xavier Rhodes during organized team activities and minicamp. He has the trust of Zimmer and the experience in his system.
Newman admits the scheme is “very similar” to what Zimmer ran at previous stops, but Newman likes the personnel the Vikings have and that’s another reason he came to Minnesota.
“I think this team has a legitimate shot to do some things that they haven’t done here in a while,” he said. “You just got to keep plugging away. … You get to training camp and you get pads on and see what you really have as a football team.”
Newman dishes on Zimmer’s ‘uncanny ability’
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