The Vikings' move to add Gary Kubiak to their offensive staff this season was precipitated by the Broncos' decision not to add Kubiak (or several of his longtime assistants) back to their coaching staff this winter.
As the Vikings prepare to face the team with which Kubiak has been to a total of six Super Bowls as a player, coordinator or head coach, Mike Zimmer said the Vikings' addition of Kubiak is "probably the best thing that's happened to me since I've been here."
The Vikings hired Kubiak as their assistant head coach before the season, also bringing his son, Klint, in for his second stint with the Vikings (this time as the quarterbacks coach). Offensive line coach/run game coordinator Rick Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani — who've both spent years coach with Kubiak for a number of teams — joined him in Minnesota, after the Broncos chose to go in a different direction.
"He's very smart," Zimmer said of Kubiak. "I talk to him a lot about what he's done as a head coach. We talk a lot about offensive and defensive football. I just love his demeanor and the way that he and [offensive coordinator] Kevin [Stefanski] can communicate during the games and also during the week on game plans."
Running back Dalvin Cook was named the NFC offensive player of the week for the second time in his career on Wednesday, after posting 183 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in the Vikings' win over the Cowboys on Sunday night.
Cook caught five passes for a career-high 86 yards in the win, leading the Vikings in receiving yards as the team continued to play with Adam Thielen out.
Happy for Fangio
In some ways, Broncos coach Vic Fangio's path to a head-coaching job mirrored the one Zimmer took nearly six years ago. The longtime defensive coordinator became a head coach at age 60 this winter, following Zimmer's rise to the Vikings' job (after being passed over for a number of other openings) at age 58 in 2014.
"He's been a good defensive coordinator for a long, long time," Zimmer said. "I'm not saying anything bad about anybody else, but a lot of these guys, they come in and in one year, they get a head coaching job and guys never get an opportunity. I felt like Vic was a guy that earned that opportunity because of the body of work that he did. I don't think he's a guy that is a big politician or glad-hander from what I know of him. It's nice to see guys get opportunities based on what they've done, not a one-year sabbatical."
Workout? What workout?
The NFL announced Tuesday it will hold a workout Saturday in Atlanta for free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who hasn't played since the end of the 2016 season and has filed a grievance through the NFL Players Association alleging team owners have colluded to deny him a job after he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice against African-Americans.
The league informed all 32 teams of the workout on Tuesday, in the notice it sends each afternoon about that day's roster moves and player workouts. When asked about the workout on Wednesday, Zimmer said he didn't know it was happening until General Manager Rick Spielman told him about it.
"I didn't read all the way down," Zimmer said. "That's what I told Rick. I said, 'I didn't even see it.' And he said, 'Well, it was at the bottom of the transactions,' or whatever. I said, 'I didn't read it all the way down.' "
Four starters miss practice
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who had meniscus surgery last week (as sources told the Star Tribune), was not on the field for the Vikings' Wednesday practice. Guard Josh Kline, who remains in the concussion protocol, was out, as was defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring).
Thielen did not have a sleeve on his right leg as he worked through a handful of drills at the end of practice on Wednesday, but it remains to be seen if the Vikings will try and bring him back for Sunday's game with the bye week looming after that — though Zimmer said the chance for extra rest doesn't factor into his decisions.
"When guys are healthy, they play," he said.
• The Titans claimed rookie Khari Blasingame off the Vikings practice squad.