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Vikings coach Zimmer preaches patience at right guard

Some highlights from coach Mike Zimmer’s press conference held not long ago …

– Asked when he wants to make his final decision on the starting right guard position, Zimmer laughed and said, “Yesterday.” Mike Harris, the career tackle, has been given the first opportunity to win the job and has been with the first-teamers throughout the first week of camp. By all accounts via the coaching staff, the big fella has done a solid job of keeping his pads low, which is difficult for taller guys used to playing tackle. The team, however, can’t make a solid call on Harris until they see him in at least one preseason game. “It’s more important to make the right decision than it is to make the fast decision,” Zimmer said.

– Upon further review of yesterday’s practice tape, Zimmer said the team “looked pretty good.” He didn’t feel that way at all coming off the field yesterday.

– The Vikings will practice inside Blakeslee Stadium from 7:15 to 9:15 tonight. It won’t be a scrimmage, but the intensity always seems to elevate a notch when up to 10,000 fans partake in a night practice. “Tonight is good for the younger players,” Zimmer said. The atmosphere helps the coaches judge how players respond when they’re under more pressure. In these situations, Zimmer said, “Some guys might spit the bit while other guys get out of the gate and run.”

– Gerald Hodges will be added to the mix at middle linebacker starting tonight. Normally an outside linebacker who backs up both Anthony Barr and Chad Greenway, Hodges might also be the third-best linebacker on the team. The coaches want to find out if he has what it takes to play in the middle. Zimmer said if Hodges continues to take his coaching well, he could be a very good player in the NFL.

– Guard David Yankey saw a some reps at left tackle in today’s walkthrough. It’s unlikely that he’d end up being the backup there, but Zimmer wants to see some new looks. “I told [offensive line coach] Jeff Davidson to start moving these guys around a little bit,” Zimmer said.

– Zimmer said he has told middle linebacker Audie Cole to “cut it loose a little bit.” Cole is running as the first-team middle linebacker. Zimmer said he’s doing a good job but needs to unleash some of the aggressiveness that he’s shown in games when given opportunities to play.

Linebacker talk with Adam Zimmer

In case you missed it, I wrote a story for today’s newspaper on the Vikings’ linebacker corps, which outside linebacker Chad Greenway feels is as deep and talented as any group he has played with in his 10 years here.

Greenway and Anthony Barr are expected to start on the outside. Either Audie Cole or rookie Eric Kendricks will man the middle. And the team will try to find ways to get Gerald Hodges, likely a backup, on the field.

I had a nice chat with linebackers coach Adam Zimmer about those five guys, and he gave me some good insight that didn’t make it into the paper. But hey, we have a blog! So I’m going to share some quotes here.

Why does Cole have a leg up on Kendricks right now? “He’s a veteran and he has a real good feel for what we’re doing. Eric’s getting better every day and I think once he gets really comfortable in the system he’ll start to flourish. But Audie’s done a nice job ever since he’s gotten here and when he gets in games he makes plays. So I’m not afraid to play Audie at all, because he does play good when the lights come on.”

Is there a reluctance to give rookies big roles right away? “We’re not going to force anybody on the field. The best guys are going to play. I don’t really get into, ‘Oh, he’s a rookie. He shouldn’t play that much.’ Anthony played every snap for us until he got hurt. It’s not about being a rookie. It’s about when you’re ready to play and who gives us the best chance to win.”

What does Gerald Hodges bring to the table? “Gerald is very athletic. He has a nose for the football. Last year, he was a little undisciplined and he really worked on that this year. He’s been making way less mistakes than he did last year, so that’s encouraging. He is a versatile guy. We can play him at different positions. We’ve played him at [strong-side and weak-side linebacker] so far this training camp. I think he gives you some versatility, some athleticism and he can find the ball and make plays.”

Is there anything more that Barr can do that he wasn’t already asked to do as a rookie? “There’s a lot of things he can get better at. He needs to tackle better than he did last year. He definitely can improve his pass rush; I think when he’s rushing tackles he can improve his technique a ton there. Just knowing exactly where he needs to be in the passing game. I thought he was really good in the passing game but he can be better at that. So there’s a lot of things we’re working at. He’s not a finished product yet. What he is right now is pretty good, but he can be a lot better. … You don’t get a lot of guys like that, that are athletic and big and strong. He has all the tools you want. He’s also smart and a great kid. He’s humble. All he does is want to get better and be the best. Those are the ones you look back on later in your career and say, ‘I’m glad I coached that guy.’”

Why did you bring Greenway back? “Number one, I think he can still play. He was hampered by some injuries last year, which hurt him. But Chad’s very smart. He’s going to be exactly where we want him to be. He’s a leader in the room. The next oldest guy we’ve got in that room is 26 years old, so I think it’s good to have a veteran leader in there to show the young guys how to work and do things. I think Chad’s got a lot of good plays left in him and he’s going to have a good year this year. … It’s an impressive run he’s had. He’s been a true pro the whole way. And I think he’s got one or two more [seasons] left in him.”

Today's Scoreboard

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  • Kansas City

    Toronto

     

    - F

    7

    6

  • Tampa Bay

    Boston

     

    - F

    7

    11

  • LA Angels

    LA Dodgers

     

    - F

    1

    3

  • Detroit

    Baltimore

     

    - Top 3rd

    0

    3

  • Atlanta

    Philadelphia

     

    - Bot 2nd

    2

    1

  • NY Yankees

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - Bot 2nd

    0

    2

  • Pittsburgh

    Cincinnati

     

    - Top 3rd

    0

    1

  • Arizona

    Houston

     

    - Top 2nd

    2

    1

  • San Diego

    Miami

     

    - Top 3rd

    1

    0

  • Chicago Cubs

    Milwaukee

     

    - Bot 2nd

    0

    0

  • Seattle

    Minnesota

     

    - Top 1st

    1

    0

  • Washington

    NY Mets

     

    - Bot 2nd

    2

    0

  • Colorado

    St. Louis

     

    - Top 2nd

    1

    0

  • San Francisco

    Texas

    7:05 PM

  • Cleveland

    Oakland

    8:05 PM

  • Minnesota

    Tulsa

    7:00 PM

  • Montreal

    New York City FC

     

    - F

    3

    2

  • Real Salt Lake

    D.C.

     

    - 1st, 0:00

    2

    0

  • New York

    Philadelphia

     

    - 1st, 0:00

    0

    0

  • Toronto FC

    New England

     

    - 1st, 0:00

    0

    0

  • Columbus

    Orlando City SC

     

    - 1st, 0:00

    1

    0

  • Houston

    Sporting Kansas City

    7:30 PM

  • Los Angeles

    Colorado

    8:00 PM

  • Vancouver

    Seattle

    9:00 PM

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