Hartman: Vikings' perfect preseason helps gain respect

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2014 - 11:49 PM
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Mike Zimmer is hoping that a 4-0 preseason has the Vikings pointed in the right direction as he prepares for his first regular season as an NFL head coach. “We’re not making mistakes and we play hard,” he said. “… We played clean, hard, tough football.”

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Vikings coach Mike Zimmer believes that opponents have respect for his team after it finished the preseason 4-0.

“I do [think they’re ready], I think people are starting to recognize us when they put the tape on and they see how we play and they see the ability that we have and that we’re not making mistakes and we play hard,” Zimmer said. “I’ve had comments from other people around the league that have watched our tape and thought we looked pretty good.”

What did Zimmer like about his team’s play in his first stint as a head coach?

“We did a lot of good things [in four preseason games],” he said. “We did not have a lot of penalties, we didn’t turn the ball over, we didn’t make a lot of mistakes. So I think we played clean, hard, tough football.”

The Vikings certainly have room to improve after going 5-10-1 last year. Asked if this team can be a lot better than the 2013 version, Zimmer said: “I don’t know, we’ll have to find out when we go play. But I think we have done a good job in the preseason setting things up as far as the kind of mind-set that we want to have as a football team.”

Zimmer said he saw a few surprises among the young players on his roster.

“You know the running backs, [Joe] Banyard [36 carries for 212 yards and five receptions for 24 yards] and Dominique Williams [32 carries for 131 yards and three receptions for 17 yards], I thought those guys were a little bit of a surprise. Trying to think of who else, maybe [guard Austin] Wentworth is a guy that has done a good job. Defensively, [defensive tackle] Shamar Stephen has played pretty well for a seventh-round draft pick.”

Stephen played so well that he earned a spot on the active roster. But despite his impressive preseason, Banyard was among the Vikings players cut Saturday.

Schedule will be a challenge

If the Vikings are going to have any success, they are going to need to perform very well in their first five games of the season, when they face three playoff team from a year ago: New England at home in Week 2, at New Orleans in Week 3 and at Green Bay in Week 5. They open the season at St. Louis against a weakened squad that lost quarterback Sam Bradford to injury, and they play host to Atlanta in Week 4.

“It’s a tough stretch at the beginning, and we play some great quarterbacks and some great teams,” Zimmer said. “If we keep doing the things we do, we’ll be in every ballgame and have a chance to win at the end.”

Asked who will call the defensive signals from the sidelines, Zimmer or defensive coordinator George Edwards, Zimmer said: “I don’t know, we haven’t decided that yet. We’ve been working on it throughout this preseason. I’ve called some and George has called some. We’ll just have to see if I have to get real involved with some of the things on offense.”

Still believes in Ponder

Zimmer said he really liked the way that former starting quarterback Christian Ponder responded in Thursday’s preseason finale after not playing in the second and third games. Ponder went 12-for-15 for 121 yards for a 100.3 quarterback rating in the 19-3 victory at Tennessee.

“He was very good,” Zimmer said. “He did a nice job taking care of the ball, making the checks that we wanted him to make, and he did a nice job throwing the ball. I was impressed with him.”

Zimmer said he would keep Ponder on the roster and that there’s no question that the 2011 first-round draft pick can play in this league.

“I think [offensive coordinator] Norv [Turner] and [quarterbacks coach] Scott [Turner] have helped him quite a bit,” he said. “I think he’s going to continue to get better. He has a good enough arm, he’s a good enough athlete, and I think the more he feels comfortable in the pocket the better he is.”

Gophers kicking game excels

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Texas 7 Bottom 8th Inning
Oakland 2
Boston - B. Workman 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - G. Cole
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Washington - G. Gonzalez 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Hand
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Milwaukee - K. Lohse 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Arizona - V. Nuno 7:40 PM
Colorado - Y. Flande
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 8:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Seattle - F. Hernandez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
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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