Mike Zimmer may not be able to fully see out of his right eye at this point, but his peripheral vision and left eye are working just fine.
Zimmer, who turned 61 years old Monday, made his return to Winter Park this week after a couple weeks away to continue mending his surgically-repaired retina. During Vikings practice Tuesday, he watched over both offensive and defensive drills. His vision good enough to call out defensive tackle Shamar Stephen from about 40 yards away while overseeing a different drill.
“The retina looks great,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “[Doctors] are going to check it again in a couple weeks. I still can’t fly or do any of that kind of stuff, but right now it’s probably the best reports I’ve had since all this stuff started.”
Zimmer met with his eye doctor Sunday before getting the clearance to return to practice Monday, which started the final week of Organized Team Activities. The Vikings head coach has instruction to be careful in his return to work.
After Tuesday, the Vikings have five more practices left in the offseason program before breaking for five weeks ahead of training camp.
“Moderation was the term he used,” Zimmer said of his doctor. “Pressure is good. Bubble is dissolving, the retina is in good shape, so really all he said was just be smart.”
He described the oxygen bubble, used to hold his repaired retina in place, as if he was trying to see through a “glass of water” while looking straight ahead.
“It’s hard to see through the bubble,” he said. “Above the bubble I can see, below the bubble I can see. Vision is pretty good. I can see decent. It’s annoying sometimes when you’re seeing a glass a water over here.”
Zimmer admitted he should’ve given his eye injury some more attention after scratching his retina during the Oct. 31 game in Chicago. He had needed a few days of rest after requiring an emergency eye surgery, his third, just before the Dec. 1 game vs. Dallas, which he did not coach. He returned the following week and has now undergone eight eye surgeries in total.
“I’ve probably done a little bit more research since the season has ended with all this stuff and I probably needed to take it a little more serious than what I did,” he said.
Zimmer praised his coaching staff and players for how the team was run during his absence. However, Zimmer wasn’t out of mind or totally out of earshot. He sent along plenty of daily texts and notes to both coaches and players alike while evaluating film and resting at his northern Kentucky ranch for the past two weeks.
“They listened to all the direction I gave them each day and they did a really good job,” Zimmer said. “I’m very lucky and very fortunate to have not only the coaches I have, but the team that I have.”