Tuesday marked the first day that the Minnesota Vikings got to practice with pads on during the 2015 season. It was the day a lot of players were looking forward to because even though running around in shorts is nice, they don’t feel like it is truly football until you get to hit somebody.
With all that pent up excitement it can be hard for the coaching staff to keep things under control, but head coach Mike Zimmer said that, for the most part, his team practiced smart. There were a couple instances, however, where his players may have been a little over-eager and one of those instances ended with his quarterback on the ground, which is not something he wants to see.
“It was the first day and guys were geared up,” Zimmer said. “We have to learn how to practice in pads continually, but there were a couple of times we were too close. Sharrif (Floyd) bumped into the guard and he kind of bumped into Teddy (Bridgewater) and Teddy went onto the ground one time. So we have to be smart about that.”
Zimmer left no doubt, in his Zimmer ways, at several points during practice that his quarterback with the red jersey was not to be hit.
Zimmer was also excited for his player to throw their pads back on because it meant that the defensive backs were allowed to press the wide receivers. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, defensive backs are not allowed to use press coverage when covering wide receivers until pads come on and press coverage is something Zimmer likes to use a lot.
He admitted that it was a little sloppy, but he expected that. They have not had any chance to work on it this offseason and most of the players have not used press coverage since the end of the 2014 season.
“There was some good and bad,” he said when asked how the press coverage looked. “I expected it to be sloppy, they have a lot of technique work to do, and it’s the same thing for the receivers too because they haven’t seen it either. So we’re going to work extra on that today. We’ll have an extra little period for that today.”
Zimmer is known as one of the better defensive backs coaches in the NFL and he has been working with them since he first entered the NFL as a coach in 1994, so he took a special interest in watching the defensive backs work in press coverage for the first time.
He will get in their ear and let them know what they are doing wrong and what they need to do to improve. Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman enjoy his coaching style, as they have experienced him before and know that what he says truly helps them. Zimmer is not sure if rookie Trae Waynes likes it yet, though, and said he just needs to get used to his style of coaching.
“Yeah, finally you get a chance to work on (press coverage),” he said. “And I always like to – with Xavier, Terence and Trae, especially those guys – I like to continually try to coach them. Terence likes the things I say and Xavier too, not all the time he doesn’t, and then Trae just needs to get used to me.”