Mike Zimmer waited a long time to become a head coach but nearly withdrew his name from the Vikings coaching search.
Zimmer told potential coaches and general managers at the NFL career development symposium Saturday that after he was passed over by another NFL team this offseason, he considered not flying back to Minnesota for his second interview.
“It had nothing to do with the Vikings; it was just kind of the feeling of a loss,” Zimmer said. “I was trying to get over it, and you just have to go about your business.”
The 57-year-old opted to make the trip and felt it was a “perfect fit” after spending more time with the organization. Zimmer spent the past 14 years as a defensive coordinator with the Bengals, Falcons and Cowboys before finally becoming a head coach.
“So thank God that I did do that,” Zimmer said. “I think what it does show you though is that you have to keep persevering all the time no matter how despondent you get it.”
Bridgewater missed OTA
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater wished he could’ve been in Minnesota instead of Los Angeles last week for a NFLPA rookie premiere event. He enjoyed learning the business perspective of the NFL with his fellow rookies, but Bridgewater said it was difficult missing two OTA practices.
“I’m one of those guys who wants to be with his teammates,” Bridgewater said. “I know there will be events like that that come up that I’ll have to attend, but I was pretty bummed that I have to miss practice for two days. But it was great to be back out there [Wednesday].”
Bridgewater said he hasn’t received first-team reps yet, but he’s not worried about that. Zimmer said Bridgewater threw the ball well during Wednesday’s OTA session.
“He’s still got a long ways to go, but we’re still very, very happy we got him,” Zimmer said. “At some time, he is going to end up getting a chance to play. I don’t know if it’s going to be this year, or next year or what. But as long as he keeps improving every day, we’re happy.”
Turner surprisingly loud
While Zimmer has the reputation as a fiery coach, his voice hasn’t been the loudest during the open OTA sessions.
It’s been offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Even Zimmer didn’t anticipate that from Turner.
“I love it; he’s coaching them hard,” Zimmer said. “He’s demanding. He’s very similar to me in a lot of ways, and it’s been great.”
It surprised receiver Greg Jennings as well because of Turner’s laid-back personality.
“You catch him out here, and you would never know that was him on the football field,” Jennings said. “You got to love a guy like that because he’s going to work when it’s time to work, and he’s going to be able to loosen up when he can.”
Vikings lend a hand
The Vikings spent Wednesday afternoon at Lucy Craft Laney School in north Minneapolis for their annual Vikings playground build event. Players and coaches arrived right after they practice to build the playground speak to children in the classrooms.
“It’s important to our players that we give back to Minnesota as much as they give to us, so it’s been really fun for us to get it,” Zimmer said, surveying the scene. “It has actually been fun for us to get away from practice a little bit and get out and kind of joke around with each other.”
Camp starts July 24
The Vikings will report to training camp July 24 and with their first practice the following day, the team announced. The team will break from training camp on Aug. 15, a day before their second preseason game against the Cardinals at TCF Bank Stadium.
A full training camp schedule will be released at a later date.