Zimmer, Sullivan return to Vikings camp

Head coach Mike Zimmer and center John Sullivan were back at Minnesota Vikings practice Thursday after missing time earlier the week with family situations.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer left training camp Monday to be with his ailing father in Florida, but Zimmer returned to practice Thursday and players and coaches were happy to see him back. They also understand why he had to leave in the first place.

“It’s definitely a good thing to have Coach Zimmer back,” quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. “I’m not too sure on his situation; right now we just have to continue to focus on football. It’s a family first atmosphere here.”

The head coach is usually the foundation of any team and the team will often take on the personality of that coach. You can see that happening now in Minnesota as Zimmer begins his second year, so having that foundation gone is never easy.

The players have respect for their head coach, but they also understand that he needed to be away. So in his absence they put their heads down and continued to work hard as if he were still there.

“Any time you’re missing a head coach, you want him to be around because he brings so much to the table for our team, but I think our guys have a respect for him and the situation,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “They came in and worked and we worked through it. They paid attention to the details of what we’re trying to do, but we’re glad he’s back.”

Another player absent from the last few team practices was veteran center John Sullivan. He was away celebrating the birth of his newborn son, John Harris Sullivan, and returned to the team on Thursday.

Sullivan is the veteran leader on the offensive line and is responsible for calling the blocking schemes that take place. Centers and quarterbacks work closely with one another so it can be hard when one is away. But Bridgewater actually thinks the time he spent working with the backup center Zac Kerin could be a good thing.

“You never know what could happen through the course of a game,” Bridgewater said. “Last year Sully went down in the Buffalo game, I believe, and Joe Berger stepped in and replaced him. So it’s good to get a practice in with the backup center to prepare you for those situations that may happen, like Buffalo last year.”

Bridgewater was asked if he thinks fatherhood will change Sullivan at all and he said that he does not think so, but it could make him a little softer. That is something that has already shown a little as the center and quarterback shared a nice moment together during practice when talking about Sullivan’s newborn.

“No,” Bridgewater answered when asked if there were any cigars for Sullivan. “I almost shed a tear in the walk-through talking to him, though. I’m very excited for him and I wish him nothing but the best.”

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