Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was talking about the young, talented and inconsistent Mackensie Alexander during the league meetings on Wednesday when it started to sound more like a father talking about a son who needs to start trusting the father's wisdom more.

So I said, "Sounds like the son who thinks the father doesn't know anything until the day he realizes the father knows everything."

Zimmer smiled and said, "Yeah, kind of."

The 23-year-old Alexander could play a vital role in Zimmer's defense this fall. He was drafted in the second round last year with the intention of helping make this year's defense younger than the one that lined up last year with Munnerlyn at the nickel slot position that sees about 60 percent of the snaps or more on a consistent basis.

Ideally, the Vikings would like Alexander to seize control of that position and let his instincts, athleticism and play-making abilities take over. Of course, there's always Terence Newman to fall back on in the nickel spot, but the ageless, soon-to-be 39-year-old hasn't released his grip on the starting spot on the left side just yet.

Asked what Alexander needs to do to lock down that nickel job, Zimmer said, "Understand his assignments better. Understand the NFL rules better in pass coverage and things like that. It's really just those things. Be consistent.''

Then he was asked how coachable Alexander is.

"He's a young guy," Zimmer said. "He's kind of, what's the best way to say this. He's kind of a guy that has a ton of talent. I think he's a good kid. He just needs to be more consistent with everything. Practice habits. Things like that. A lot of times young guys coming in, I'm not saying him particularly, they come in and they don't trust enough, they're not trusting enough [of coaching]. It's just that kind of stuff.''

Zimmer did add that he thinks Alexander was turning the corner in terms of trusting his coaching.

"At the end of [last] year, yeah, I thought he did better,'' Zimmer said.