Minicamp gives Vikings' Zimmer his first chance at hands-on work

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 29, 2014 - 6:42 AM

A voluntary minicamp that begins today will give the new Vikings coach a better look at the squad’s talent.

Mike Zimmer sat back in a chair inside his new office at Winter Park last week and rattled off all the things on his to-do list since the Vikings hired him in January.

In three busy months, he hired a coaching staff, helped develop a plan for free agency, built playbooks, overhauled the weight room, racked up frequent-flier miles scouting college prospects and huddled with the Super Bowl bid committee. He even pushed for a smoothie bar to be added in the cafeteria, though he has yet to treat himself to one.

The ninth thing Zimmer listed — and the task that gets him the most excited — was getting on the field with his new players, something he hadn’t done yet, which says more about the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement than all the extra responsibilities that come with being the head ball coach.

The CBA will allow Zimmer to get a thorough firsthand look at his players on the practice field Tuesday through Thursday when the Vikings hold their first minicamp at Winter Park. Getting this extra minicamp, albeit a voluntary one, during the offseason program is one of the perks of being a newly hired head coach.

Three days doesn’t seem like much time, but what Zimmer sees could alter the team’s draft plans.

“I told the coaches [last Monday] that obviously you’re trying to get your system [installed], but what I want to do is to get these players on the field and put them in positions to find out how good they are,” Zimmer said. “Because quite honestly, I’m hoping we find some surprises.”

Zimmer was pleased with the turnout in the first phase of the offseason program, when players were allowed only to work out in the weight room and do on-field exercises under the watch of the strength and conditioning coaches. Players could, however, receive off-the-field instruction from the new coaching staff.

“It’s been good,” Zimmer said. “From the meetings, the way they pay attention and they’re trying to learn the system, and do everything in the weight room, from what I’m being told by the strength coaches, and the way they work together as a team.”

Participation, while not required, is expected to be even higher for the minicamp. For one, running back Adrian Peterson got back into town last week. But newcomers such as Captain Munnerlyn and Linval Joseph will get a chance to line up next to new teammates and returning Vikings will have to prove themselves all over again to a new coaching staff.

This week, Zimmer will dust off his whistle and roll out the footballs for actual football drills. No live contact is permitted at the minicamp, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are allowed, and that’s enough activity to make an impression.

“To me that’s the most exciting part right now, to go out on the field with them for three days and then once we have another meeting and we’ll say, ‘Wow, we really need this’ or ‘We don’t need this as badly,’ ” Zimmer said. “We may rearrange things a little bit [on the draft board].”

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Cleveland - LP: T. Bauer 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 3
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: K. Lohse 5
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: Z. Putnam 1
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 4 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 6
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: T. Walker 2
Detroit - WP: A. Sanchez 11 FINAL
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 5
Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 6
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 3 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 1
Texas - LP: Y. Darvish 1 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Phelps 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 4 FINAL
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: E. Santana 6
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 3 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 0
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 3
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 7 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Chavez 9
Baltimore - LP: T. Hunter 2 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 3
Chicago 1 FINAL
San Jose 5
Calgary 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Winnipeg 7/25/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Connecticut 75 FINAL
Washington 89
New York 66 FINAL
Los Angeles 64
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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