Zimmer irritated with Vikings’ final practice
Mike Zimmer’s final press conference at Minnesota State, Mankato was short, but far from sweet.
Zimmer was irritated by the way the Minnesota Vikings operated in their final practice in Mankato Thursday morning. He made the team run, a rarity in the NFL these days, a few plays into practice, ended it about 15 minutes early and then made his feelings public.
“That was a terrible practice,” he said in his opening remarks. “It was not up to my standards and they’d better get better quickly or there’s going to be a lot of heck going on.”
Asked what he didn’t like about it, he replied “everything.” Asked about training camp as a whole after three weeks, he said, “Today’s not a good day to ask.”
The veterans knew exactly where they stood with Zimmer after Thursday's practice.
“I feel bad that we came out and we had a not-so-great practice today. To me, it feels like we let him down,” 36-year-old Terence Newman said. “The fact that he’s here right now mourning the loss of his father and we couldn’t give him one more day of a good practice. I feel like we let him down.”
Zimmer wasn’t going to accept any excuses about it being the last day of practice in Mankato or players not wearing pads.
“That’s not what good teams do. Good teams don’t do that. Good teams focus on the task at hand,” Zimmer said. “They don’t care what’s happened the last 13 days. They’re worried about today, about getting better. That’s what good teams do.”
Zimmer’s father, Bill, died Tuesday night and players had a high-energy, spirited and fully padded practice Wednesday afternoon. But Thursday was a letdown on many levels.
So will he lean on his veterans to self-police that going forward?
“I’m leaning on my size 10s,” Zimmer responded.
“Late in camp, you can’t have that mindset as you’re just going to come out there and roll the ball. You’ve got to just continue to fight through everything,” quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. “Coach Zimmer, he’s a tough coach. He wants everything to be precise in practice and I think we didn’t do a good job of that today. We’re a much better football team than the way we came out today in practice.”
Zimmer called the team together on the field after 75 minutes of practice before excusing them, but he said he couldn’t repeat what he told his players. And he isn’t relying on a team meeting to correct the wrongs before the final walk-through Thursday afternoon.
“We had a team meeting right out there on the field,” Zimmer said. “That was kind of what they did all day today, they had a team meeting and they didn’t work.”
The Vikings celebrated 50 years of training camp at Minnesota State this year and they signed a three-year extension on Wednesday. Zimmer raved about the facilities before raking his players one last time.
“We have a great tradition of coming down here. The facilities are good. The practice fields are fantastic. The training room is great. We’ve got a great weight room. Everything about it is great,” he said. And then … “We probably don’t deserve to be here if we practice like that.”
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