Emmanuel Lamur knew exactly what to expect when he signed with the Minnesota Vikings in free agency. He spent his first two years with Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati, knew his coaching style and embraced it.
Despite getting more starts once Zimmer left Cincinnati, Lamur wanted to join up with Zimmer and the Vikings this spring.
“He’s a player’s coach and he’s competitive. That’s what you want in a coach,” Lamur said of Zimmer. “He’s always expecting the best out of the players and going to help you do your job. That’s pretty much like every other coach in the league, but there’s something about him. He’s a discernment guy. I just see and notice some things about him and that’s what I love about him. He loves to win and we all love to win. He works hard and that’s the same with us as a team – we love working hard.”
Lamur started 13 of the 14 games he played for the Bengals in 2014, the first year he was without Zimmer as his defensive coordinator. He had 91 tackles, seven passes defensed and the only two interceptions of his four-year career. Last year, he started only two games.
Yet, despite an increased opportunity after Zimmer left, Lamur holds a deep respect for Zimmer.
“At first, he was hard on guys, but you’ve got to have tough skin with Coach. You’ve just got to be tough with him,” he said. “You can’t take nothing personal; you’ve just got to get the job done. It’s as simple as that.”
Lamur’s familiarity with Zimmer’s coaching style is one aspect making his transition to Minnesota easier. His level of knowledge in the defense follows that path, too.
While the terminology has changed some, the concepts and scheme are the same, a big benefit for the fifth-year veteran.
“It’s giving me the ability to play fast, especially playing behind the 3-technique. That’s one of the reasons why I came here, too. I’m familiar with the scheme and this is a team that’s on the rise,” Lamur said. Of course, Coach Zim, he expects the best out of the players and he’s going to push you to the full potential.”
For Lamur, coming to Zimmer’s system means he gets to play his preferred position at weakside linebacker. Zimmer said he has always viewed that as Lamur’s best position, but didn’t want to get into details why he wasn’t always used there in Cincinnati.
It’s also Lamur’s preferred position.
“I play with my speed. That’s one of my bread and butters. I can be physical with the run as well,” he said. “I do it all pretty much with my size and my length. I can cover a lot of ground just playing free behind the 3-technique. That’s the difference with playing Will [weak side] and Sam [strong side]. Sam you’re not really covered up. As a Sam linebacker you have to take on blocks. As a Will, you’re protected. It’s see ball, get ball.”
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It’s where he can also use his athleticism.
“He’s extremely athletic,” Zimmer said. “He’s long, great kid, talented, good athlete, fast, a lot of good things.”
Lamur says Zimmer’s system is built for his style of play, but no promises were made to Lamur about playing time or the possibility to start. In fact, he didn’t investigate the Vikings’ personnel too much, he said.
What’s left for E-Man, as he was nicknamed by teammates and continues to call himself? He said Zimmer simply wants to see more consistency out of him.
“Especially with me knowing the system, just doing things right at all times – being at the right place at all times and just effort, busting your butt at all times. Not taking plays for granted,” Lamur said. “Just coming out here, competing your butt off like it’s your last. It’s all about the small things. That’s what’s going to override, the small things.”