Minnesota Vikings head coach met with local media Monday for the first time in a week since the team was off on a bye week. When he first approached the podium, he appeared to be in high spirits and started the press conference off with a little joke.
“Alright, good to get back. I know you all missed me; I missed you, too,” he said with a smile. “It’s a love fest.”
That good mood seemed to fade quickly, however, as reporters began to ask questions of the team’s trade with the San Francisco 49ers, where they gave up starting middle linebacker Gerald Hodges for undrafted rookie center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick.
He seemed to either try to avoid talking about Hodges when possible or would just give short, vague answers on the subject. After being asked about the traded linebacker for the third time, he sounded like he had enough.
“I didn’t get this many questions when my father died, about a guy,” Zimmer said.
But it was not just Hodges that seemed to be a subject that Zimmer did not feel like talking about on Monday. Questions regarding any linebacker didn’t yield much insight.
With Hodges now out of the lineup, rookie Eric Kendricks could be forced into more of a full-time role. He has already received ample playing time in the nickel formation, but now he will also have to hold down the middle in the base formation.
“He’s a good player,” Zimmer said when asked why Kendricks has been able to come along so quickly. “I don’t what else you want me to say. He’s done a good job.”
When Vikings general manager Rick Spielman spoke to the beat reporters the Tuesday of the bye week as the trade was revealed, he said that the team was able to trade Hodges because of the depth they had at linebacker and that they were happy with the development of players such as Kendricks, Edmond Robinson and Brandon Watts.
Robinson is a player who attended a Division II school and who the Vikings took in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. He was able to make the active roster after the final cuts this season but has not yet dressed for a game. With Hodges now in San Francisco, he seems like someone who may see the field more, but Zimmer just said “it’s possible” when asked about it.
“Good,” Zimmer said of Robinson’s progression. “Getting better. Working.”
With Zimmer being that guarded when it came to questions about his linebackers, it’s natural to wonder if he was totally on board with trading Hodges. Either way, he is clearly ready to move on and focus on working with the players he has.