Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said this week that he’s happy with the progress that is being made by his quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has missed time due to some shoulder issues.
“He’s doing good,” Zimmer said. “He had a nice day today throwing the football. I think he feels good. I think we’re all good to go.”
When asked what was wrong with Bridgewater, Zimmer didn’t elaborate.
“We were just being careful,” he said. “We were just being careful.”
When it comes to the rest of the starters, it sounds as if Zimmer has the approach most NFL teams have regarding the third of four preseasons games, saying that most starters will get a lot of time against San Diego on Sunday in the first game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“We’ll probably play them a fair amount,” he said. “We’ll see how we’re doing. If we feel like we’re getting everything accomplished, then we’ll get them out. But the plan going is to play them a fair amount. We want to get a good work in gamelike situations and try to put our guys in the best position possible.”
Meanwhile, Zimmer said his main concern with the team’s progress so far this preseason has been its run offense and defense, though he feels for the most part the overall defense — which has allowed only 13.5 points per game, and just seven points total in the first half when the starters usually are playing — has been as advertised.
“I think we played well in Seattle for the most part,” he said. “Defensively, I felt we did a nice job. We’re continually working on the running game on both sides of the ball. I think we’ve had a good week of doing that this week.
“I want to finish these next couple days doing the same thing, grinding on this running game. And then because I think if we’re strong in that area, it’s going to help other areas on our football team.”
Ex-Gophers get a shot
There are four former Gophers on the Vikings roster, and Marcus Sherels is the only one that probably has a guaranteed spot on the team this season, while Theiren Cockran, Isaac Fruechte and Troy Stoudermire will battle for spots on the 53-man roster or the practice squad.
Zimmer was asked what he has seen out of Cockran, a rookie free agent defensive tackle.
“He’s doing well; I think he’s doing a good job,” Zimmer said. “He comes out here and competes every day and works. He’s doing good.”
Does he have a shot to make the team?
“I think so,” he said. “We have to keep going. He’s like the defensive ends we like. He’s tall, has length. He’s a nice kid and he works hard. There’s a chance for him to play in the NFL.”
There’s a bit of a different story with Stoudermire, who officially is an NFL rookie despite being in training camp with the Bengals in 2013.
Stoudermire was cut by Cincinnati, went to the Canadian Football League and moved from defensive back to wide receiver and special teams returner, which is where Vikings scouts found him and signed him.
“He’s a really good athlete, and I think his quickness shows up probably more when he’s returning punts and at receiver than it did at defensive back,” Zimmer said. “It’s a completely different position. I think he has done a nice job, and he has a chance to have a good future.”
So how did the Vikings find out about Stoudermire in Canada?
“That was [General Manager] Rick [Spielman] and [assistant GM] George Paton and those guys,” Zimmer said. “They saw him in Canada and thought he had a chance. It’s really a credit to him to go up there and change positions and excel up there.”
Dozier’s career mark
Back on May 24, when Brian Dozier was hitting only .199 with four home runs through the Twins’ first 45 games, it was impossible to think that following Dozier’s solo homer in Wednesday night’s 9-4 loss to Detroit he would have set a career high with 30 home runs, and also have the most homers by a Twin since Josh Willingham hit 35 in 2012.
But Dozier has been on fire his past 81 games, hitting .304 with 26 homers and 62 RBI. Since June 25, Dozier has 22 homers and has hit one in every 9.6 at-bats, both the highest marks in baseball.
Dozer also is on pace for career highs in batting average (currently .270), slugging percentage (.543), and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.886). All of a sudden the Twins feel very good about having him signed through 2018 at $5 million per season.
• The fact that tight end Rhett Ellison, who was hurt last year in the regular-season finale, is healthy is a big plus for the Vikings going into the start of the season. He and Kyle Rudolph are two of the best blockers in the NFL, and their presence in the lineup makes Adrian Peterson that much more effective.
• Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner was asked how big of a task it is for T.J. Clemmings to work at both right tackle and left tackle. “I think it is a big challenge for a young player,” Turner said. “I’ve been impressed with the way he handles it. We know he made progress as a right tackle last year. He gets thrown over to the left side and when he has played there an extended time, he continues to grow. But someone has to be a swing tackle. Every team in the league has to have a guy who plays right and left tackle, and he is capable of doing both for us.” … Incidentally Turner was head coach of San Diego, Sunday’s opponent, from 2007 to ’12.
• The big key to how good the Packers are could hinge on whether star wide receiver Jordy Nelson is ready to be the No. 1 option for Aaron Rodgers after he missed last season because of a knee injury. The result of Nelson’s injury was that Rodgers had his worst year, and that helped the Viking edge the Packers for the NFC North title.
• Bridgewater sang the praises of center John Sullivan, who missed most of last season and is healthy again and battling Joe Berger for the starting job. “Having John Sullivan healthy, that’s the biggest thing,’’ Bridgewater said. “He’s able to provide another set of eyes out there for the quarterback. He sees things from an offensive lineman standpoint, but he also thinks like a quarterback so having him out there is great.”
• Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner said it took 20 minutes each day last season to tape his bad toe, but now it takes no time at all.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org