Xavier Rhodes doesn’t need to change his physical approach, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Friday at Winter Park.
The third-year cornerback’s progress will be tested Sunday in Chicago against quarterback Jay Cutler and an officiating crew responsible for handing out the most penalties through the first seven weeks of the season. Rhodes’ aggressive defense has led to nine penalties on him, the second most in the NFL and a fourth of all penalties called on the Vikings.
“Xavier is going to be a big, physical corner and I’m not going to change the way he plays,” Zimmer said. “I keep telling him every day, ‘If you’re a power forward, you’ve got to be power forward. You don’t want to be point guard.’
“We’ll keep working on trying to get him more technically sound, but we’re not going to back off from being aggressive and physical.”
Rhodes understands what his coach means when he throws around basketball lingo.
“It means be in control and take care of and do what I need to do technique-wise,” Rhodes said. “I’m still working on it. It’s still a progression. … It’s not difficult, it’s my job to change it and I’ve got to change it.”
Diggs keeping humble
Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs wore a towel on his hip to Thursday’s practice and it didn’t take long for the teasing to start.
“I hadn’t worn a towel in weeks,” Diggs said, “and [Zimmer] said, ‘You make a couple plays and all of a sudden you’re wearing a long towel.’ I said ‘Naw,’ so I took the towel off. … Little things like that, it’s not that big of a deal, but it definitely said something to me.”
Zimmer said he teases Diggs almost every day to help keep the rising rookie star humble, but added that Diggs has done a good job staying levelheaded. Diggs was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Week last week and has 324 receiving yards and one touchdown in his first three games as a pro.
“He stays hungry and works hard,” Zimmer said.
Diggs doesn’t waste time dwelling on weekly awards or even his first NFL touchdown.
“I put them in the filing cabinet and keep moving,” he said. “Right now I’m just trying to get better — have a good next game. [Accolades] don’t really matter to me. … You’ve got to handle your success a certain kind of way. I just look forward to trying to get better and keep doing what I need to do as far as how to be a better player and how to be a pro.”
Cutler showing mobility
This week’s film sessions at Winter Park have highlighted Cutler’s ability to extend plays this season.
In his 10th NFL season and seventh with the Bears, he’s operating in a new scheme under new coach John Fox. The changes have appeared to benefit Cutler’s athleticism.
“Cutler is making plays by buying time with his feet, making plays downfield,” Zimmer said. “He really is doing a great job of seeing pressure and avoiding it. … He’s got a cannon for an arm. He can be very, very accurate, especially when he is throwing a deep ball. It’s a challenge. We’re going to have to make sure that we’re doing a good job the way we rush, the way we pressure and in our zones as well.”
Cutler threw for a season-high 353 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the Bears’ 37-34 overtime loss to Detroit in Week 6. They were off last Sunday.
“He can make all the throws,” Zimmer said, “and, especially this year, he’s been getting out of the pocket and coming up in the pocket moving around, buying time for his guys and allowing them to get open. So we just have to be conscious of that.”
Adrian Peterson returned to practice on Friday and is probable for Sunday.
The Vikings running back sat out Wednesday and Thursday with what the injury report listed as hip/finger/ankle injuries. Friday’s injury report said he had limited participation at practice, but Zimmer said “[Peterson] was full go and he’ll be ready on Sunday.”
Tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion), defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee/ankle) and defensive end Justin Trattou (foot) were ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Wide receiver Jarius Wright (concussion), linebacker Audie Cole (finger), fullback Zach Line (neck), wide receiver Adam Thielen (ankle) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (knee) all practiced Friday and are listed as probable.