New Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he was impressed in his first look at his team in this week’s minicamp.
“I love how this team works. They work extremely hard. They’re diligent about their work, they study, they want to please and so I’m excited about it,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer is entering his 21st season coaching in the NFL, but this is his first season as a head coach.
He said that he has liked what he has seen out of quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel but also knows that they are going to have their work cut out for them under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“They’re doing a great job,” Zimmer said. “They’re catching onto Norv’s system. It’s completely different for them, and he’s hard on them. He’s coaching them hard. They’re doing a good job. They’re learning like everybody else, and once they become a little bit more comfortable they’ll be a little bit better leadership-wise.”
The Vikings get an extra two weeks of practice this year because of its new coaching staff, and Zimmer knows how important that is for the team’s development.
“It’s great to get out on the field with these guys and see how they work and see how they think and what kind of athletes they are,” he said. “This part is really good for us, and it’s an important part of the process.”
Zimmer was asked to single out any individuals who impressed him athletically during the minicamp.
“They are some great athletes, there are some tremendous athletes,” he said. “Cordarrelle Patterson is a tremendous athlete, obviously Adrian Peterson [is a tremendous athlete].
“We have some guys in the defensive line that are starting to show that they have a chance to be good football players. Sharrif Floyd has done a nice job so far in this camp. He’s lost some weight and looks quick to me. [Chad] Greenway has done a good job, I’m proud of the way he’s worked in learning a new system. We have a lot of good guys, and we’ll continue to make them better.”
Injuries hurt Gophers
Gophers baseball coach John Anderson thought he would have a competitive team, but because of injuries they are having a hard time at the present. They have a record of 22-16 overall and 9-9 in the Big Ten and are in a tie for fifth place in the conference.
“It has been a difficult season,” Anderson said. “We had our best team on the field Game 1 in Arizona and that weekend, Matt Halloran, our senior starting catcher, went down with an elbow injury. He has been out the whole year.”
The Gophers also lost starting center fielder Dan Motl, who hurt his wrist diving for a ball that weekend, and from that point on they continued to accumulate a bunch of injuries.
“Ty McDevitt the next weekend, one of our top guys in the bullpen, recently had Tommy John surgery, he’s been out for the whole year,” Anderson said. “We’ve had other guys in and out of the lineup. Seems like we get healthy and somebody else goes down. Mike Handel, who was the Big Ten player of the week [April 21], pulled his hamstring at Iowa. He’s out now. Tony Skjefte, the starting third baseman and one of our top hitters, has been sick all week and might have mono. We’ve had as many as 12 players be hurt or out of the lineup this year.”
The Gophers will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend for a three-game series with the No. 5 Seminoles. The Seminoles’ closer is reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who was 1-0 with five saves, 25 strikeouts and a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings. But Winston was suspended from the team Wednesday after he received a citation for shoplifting crab legs from a supermarket.
• Brad Ruiter, who has done a terrific job since taking over the Timberwolves public relations position, reports single-game ticket sales for the 2013-14 season at Target Center were up 39 percent over what they were the previous season. On special promotions nights, college night sales were up 10 percent, Guys Night Out 64 percent and Crunch’s Kids Day 209 percent.