Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who is in his seventh season with Newman operating in his defenses in Dallas, Cincinnati and now Minnesota, talked with Newman and informed the starter that the coaching staff would be looking for opportunities to get Waynes involved in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
That happened on two series – one in the first half and one in the second – when the rookie replaced the veteran starter.
“Me and Terence, we communicated because I guess he knew before me. I didn’t know,” Waynes said. “I was focused on special teams and whatnot. He communicated with me and it worked out.”
Although Waynes played in 42 defensive snaps against the San Diego Chargers when starter Xavier Rhodes suffered a head and neck injury, Sunday’s insertion of Waynes was planned beforehand to get the rookie involved. Turns out, Newman missed a bit of time to get his ankle taped, but Waynes playing was part of the plan prior to that, too.
“I just wanted to get him some plays,” Zimmer said. “I talked to Terence during the week and said I want to get Trae in there some. Terence is 37 and he got hurt for a minute, too, but just get him some more playing time. He’s earned it; he’s doing a good job.”
Captain Munnerlyn, who was in his usual role in the nickel defense for more than half the snaps Sunday, said after the game he thought Waynes handled his limited duty well.
“Trae is coming along great. He’s got some veterans in front. He’s got some guys that have been in the league a long time with Terence,” Munnerlyn said. “We’re just going to be bringing him along real slowly. He’s getting his feet wet each and every week so I’m proud of him. Keep working. He don’t get frustrated at all. He’s a great kid. Just go out there and work hard.”
Now is the time to get the rookie involved and tested. The Vikings face the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, and neither of their quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford, have passer ratings above 90 or are in the top two-thirds of the league in that category.
Waynes only had 11 snaps on defense against Kansas City and quarterback Alex Smith, who also has a rating below 90, but Waynes said he still needs to work on “everything.”
“I think I did OK. Obviously there’s areas of improvement and I’ll go in this week to try to correct them,” he said after the game.
“I’m not anywhere close to where I need to be. I’m just going to keep doing it and practicing hard.”
In his first series at the end of the first half, Kansas City was in a 2-minute drill and Smith immediately went to work against Waynes. The cornerback was targeted on four of Smith’s five throws, allowing three completions for 23 yards and a dropped pass, but he kept everything in front of him, allowing the Vikings to go to halftime with a 10-0 lead.
On Monday, with time to let the game sink in, Munnerlyn had a pretty accurate assessment of Waynes.
“I think Trae did pretty good. He didn’t let nobody behind him. He made a couple good tackles in the two-minute drill,” Munnerlyn said. “He’s getting better each and every week. I’m seeing this guy grow each and every week.”