Coach Mike Zimmer strolled up onto the podium this afternoon for the first time in a week and greeted the group of reporters with a smile.
“I know y’all missed me. Alright, I missed you, too,” he said. “It’s a lovefest.”
The lovefest, as Zimmer put it, ended soon thereafter.
If Zimmer returned from the bye week refreshed and in good spirits, he certainly didn’t let it show during his weekly Monday press conference.
A few questions about Gerald Hodges, who has been traded to the 49ers since the last time Zimmer talked, appeared to irritate the coach.
“I didn’t get this many questions when my father died about a guy,” he said after three previous questions about Hodges and his replacement, rookie Eric Kendricks, yielded terse answers and awkward silence.
Such as: What about Kendricks prompted you to make him a starter?
“I think Eric’s done a good job and basically he has been a starter.”
How did Kendricks, a second-round pick, earn your trust so quickly?
“He’s a good player. I don’t know what else you want me to say.”
How do you replace Hodges, who played all three linebacker spots?
“Well, all our linebackers have versatility. They can all play all those spots.”
The lovefest did not start back up when the subject switched to rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who played well in the pre-bye loss to the Broncos. Did anything about his performance surprise Zimmer?
“That he put the ball on the ground twice. Other than that, no.”
While his demeanor didn’t show it, Zimmer said he was mostly pleased with what he saw from his players in today’s practice. He said they got off to a little bit of a slow start, “but we picked it up pretty good, I thought.” Last year, his young team sometimes sleepwalked the day after longer layoffs.
Zimmer said the Vikings mostly made minor adjustments during the bye week after starting 2-2. He did not feel like going into any specifics.
The Vikings host the Chiefs on Sunday. Despite the Chiefs falling to 1-4 and losing star running back Jamaal Charles for the season yesterday, Zimmer said the Vikings will not be overlooking their weekend visitors.
“We’re not good enough. We’ve only won two games so no, not at all,” he said. “Our focus is on us and what we do and how we need to win and how we need to play and how we need to get better.”