Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
The hiring of Mike Zimmer, the Bengals defensive coordinator, as Vikings coach has met the approval of some Vikings defensive players.
“It’s a good hire,” said defensive end Brian Robison. “I think he’s one of those guys that’s very passionate. Obviously he’s going to expect the best out of his players week-in, week-out, and I think it’s a great job. [General manager] Rick [Spielman] and them did their homework as far as interviewing a bunch of guys and came up with what best suits our organization.”
The intense Zimmer will be a change from Leslie Frazier, who was usually calm and collected.
“We’ve got the guys in the locker room to handle any type of coach they throw at us. I think we got a lot of mentally tough guys that, if you look at our season last year, things weren’t going the way they needed to be. Guys stayed in and fought hard, so I think we have guys that can pretty much handle anything in that locker room.”
There is a thought that Zimmer will switch to a 3-4 based defense. Here's what Robison had to say about that:
"We’re not sure what type of defense he’s going to run because of the different backgrounds he’s had over the years, but it’s going to be very interesting to see what kind of things we do under a new scheme, or even the same scheme. I’m not sure what’s going to happen but one thing we do know is that we’ve got a new head coach and we’ve got to rally behind him and get some Ws back here.
"I would love to do a hybrid type of defense. Maybe throw in some 3-4 plays, some 4-3 plays. Either way, it doesn’t matter to me. Bottom line is if he decides we’re going to do a 3-4, I’m open to being a 3-4 outside linebacker. We stay with the 4-3, I’m totally fine with that too. I’m confident in my athletic ability to do anything at this point."
Robison talked to defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who played under Zimmer when Zimmer was a Cowboys assistant.
"Bottom line was that he said he’s a guy that’s obviously going to kind of be a hard guy on you," Robison said. "He’s going to yell at you and trying to get the best out of you but at the same time if you deserve praise, he’s going to praise you up. It’s just a different change of pace I guess from Coach Frazier."
Other Vikings reaction:
Safety Jamarca Sanford: “I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. I heard he’s a passionate coach, a player coach, a man of respect. That’s what you want out of a head coach.
“I like the way he communicates with the players on the sidelines, he’ll get in your face and he’s aggressive. I love that as a defensive player. That’s what every defensive player wants.
“You see the things he did in Cincinnati. They were playing great defense out there. That’s one aspect we’re looking to correct. That’s the last thing you want to be, almost dead last in the league in defense.”
Center John Sullivan tweeted: “Very excited to play for coach Zimmer and to see the staff that he puts together. #skolvikings”
Defensive end Everson Griffen, who will be a free agent, said: “Seems like the Bengals went far this year in the playoffs, and he called good plays on defense. Haven’t heard too much about him, but I can tell you that the way the Bengals play defense, the way they attack the ball and some of the things I’ve heard from guys around the league on his mentality, his style and aggression, it seems like a good fit for the Minnesota Vikings.”
Kicker Blair Walsh tweeted: "Congrats Coach Zimmer. Welcome to the Vikings!"
A number of Vikings players have taken to twitter to voice support for special teams coordinator Mike Priefer regarding the allegations from Chris Kluwe. Kicker Blair Walsh issued a statement to reporters.
Here is his statement:
I have been a member of the Minnesota Vikings for 2 years. I want to start off by saying I have the utmost respect for Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier and Mike Priefer. All three, are good men.
I have had countless conversations and interactions with Coach Priefer, and I personally can attest to his integrity and character. His professionalism in the workplace is exemplary, and I firmly believe that my teammates would whole-heartedly agree. The allegations made today are reprehensible and totally not compatible with what Mike Priefer stands for.
As we all know, in the NFL you must perform at the highest level and meet the performance expectations of your coaches, management, and ownership. If these expectations, based upon past performance AND future potential for excellence, are not met, your NFL career with that team, is over. I believe this was the case with Chris, and it is unfair to think that his release was anything other than football related.
In my time here at Minnesota, Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier have exemplified true leadership. Contrary to Chris’ statements, they have promoted a workplace environment that was conducive for success. At no time did I ever feel suppressed or that I could not be myself.
I firmly stand behind Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier, and Mike Priefer.
Hello from the Metrodome for the final time. The Vikings will close down the Dome today against the Lions and two of the best players in the NFL won't be on the field.
Adrian Peterson was declared out on Saturday because of groin and foot injuries. The Lions made wide receiver Calvin Johnson inactive because of a knee injury. Johnson was listed as questionable after missing practice all week.
The Vikings also will be without Peterson's backup, Toby Gerhart, who was declared out because of a hamstring injury. Matt Asiata will make his second career start in their absence.
No real surprises in the Vikings other inactives: quarterback Josh Freeman, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, offensive tackle Mike Remmers, wide receiver Rodney Smith and defensive tackle Letroy Guion.
Rhodes was listed as questionable because of an ankle sprain.
Adrian Peterson admits he was "uncomfortable" in Sunday's loss at Cincinnati. Groin and foot injuries have limited his ability to perform, but Peterson said he's hopeful that he will be able to play the season and Metrodome finale Sunday against Detroit.
“I’m feeling OK," he said. "I’ve felt better. My body has been able to rest a little bit. I’m trying to push to Sunday.”
Peterson planned to practice Thursday to see how his body feels. He said that will give him some idea of his availability for Sunday.
“With a couple of more days of rest in front of me, I’ll be able to distinguish if I’ll be able to go out there be productive," he said. "Stay tuned. Right now my mindset is to be out there and finish strong with my teammates.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier removed Peterson from the Cincinnati game early in the second half because the Bengals had a big lead and Peterson clearly was not himself. Peterson said the groin injury that's bothered him for weeks actually gave him more trouble than his right foot sprain.
"The foot was a pain that I already had set in my mind that I was going to have to deal with," he said. "Sometimes when I was pushing off, I felt it. I got tackled a couple of times and twisted up and the pain kind of stuck around for a minute. But that’s something I knew I was going to have to deal with. As far as explosion, that kind of hindered me a little bit. The groin as well. So I felt uncomfortable Sunday.”
The Vikings don't expect to have Toby Gerhart available on Sunday. He re-aggravated a hamstring injury chasing down a fumble return on the opening series against the Bengals.
CINCINNATI -- Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart will play today against the Bengals.
Both Peterson (foot sprain) and Gerhart (hamstring) were listed as questionable but the team expected to have both available after watching them practice this week.
There were no real surprises on the inactive list: quarterback Josh Freeman, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, running back Matt Asiata, offensive tackle Mike Remmers, wide receiver Rodney Smith, defensive tackle Chase Baker and defensive end Justin Trattou.
Rhodes was declared out on Friday because of an ankle sprain. Shaun Prater will start in his place.
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