There must be a lot of old-school DNA bouncing around inside this observer’s skull because he finds himself nodding often when Mike Zimmer is trying to make a point about his coaching philosophy and thoughts on restrictions placed upon teams and developing players when it comes to practicing under the new collective bargaining agreement.
No, that doesn’t mean the NFL should go back to players beating each other to pulp twice a day for weeks on end. But in some instances, things seem to have gone too far the other way and could end up hurting players who need certain practice avenues that are now prohibited.
One of those, according to Zimmer, is the rule that defenders can’t play press coverage against wide receivers. In other words, they can’t jam, bump, bang or pretty much touch receivers coming off the line of scrimmage throughout OTAs, minicamp and the first two days of training camp, which can’t be done in pads.
“[Today] will be the first day that we can press, which is, in my opinion, ridiculous,” Zimmer said. “Guys go out and try to press in games, but all through OTAs and minicamp and the first two days of training camp, they can’t press.”
Per CBA rules, no heavy contact is permitted when players aren’t wearing pads. But it’s a rule that’s bent because, well, when 300-pounders are trying to simulate NFL action and they’re that close to each other, they tend to forcefully thud into each other.
“Oh, there’s way more [contact] on the line [that in press coverage]. Way more,” Zimmer said. “That’s why I say, it’s ridiculous [that there is no press coverage allowed]. If you’re a corner and you’re trying to get better pressing and you can never do that, it’s really hurting your career, possibly, because you can’t practice it.”
On a positive note, Vikings No. 1 corner Xavier Rhodes’ strength is press coverage. So having to play off the receiver has been good for him, Zimmer said.
But now, starting today at 2:45, Zimmer, the DB guru, will be able to see his big corners jam receivers.
“We’re going to look slopping [today] in pressing because we haven’t done it in six months,” Zimmer said. “But it’s something we’re going to have to work on starting [today].”