Everyone is in a better mood after the wins.
After picking up a win for the first time since beating the Panthers nearly a month ago, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer smiled during his Monday press conference as he was talking about beating the Chargers and various other topics. He even picked up the phone when he got a call from longtime friend Deion Sanders, putting the Hall of Famer on speakerphone to say a few words to reporters on the Zoom call.
“It was a big win for my man yesterday,” Sanders said. “I picked him, I knew he was going to be dominant yesterday. You won’t let any young trainer beat you. I know better than that, man.”
Zimmer was Sanders’ position coach with the Cowboys from 1995 to 1999 and the two have been close ever since. Sanders, who is currently the head coach at Jackson State University, was recently released from hospital after a lengthy stay with complications from foot surgery. Zimmer said he had been trying to reach him for a few weeks. It was the kind of fun moment that certainly wouldn’t happen if the Vikings had lost their third straight game on Sunday.
Now let’s get to the real football lessons from Zimmer’s Monday session with the media.
There weren’t many in that department. When asked if he thinks the Vikings could get Anthony Barr or Patrick Peterson back this week, all Zimmer would say is that he’s hopeful. Peterson (hamstring) is eligible to return from injured reserve this week and said “we will see” regarding his status for the upcoming game against the Packers. Barr is likely to have knee issues for the rest of the season, but he could return if the Vikings feel like the rest he got this week has helped.
Players on the COVID list
The Vikings added another player to the COVID roster on Monday – practice squad guard Jake Bargas – bringing their total number to seven. But Dakota Dozier and Garrett Bradbury were back at team facilities today today, Zimmer confirmed, which means they will soon be delisted. It’s great to hear that Dozier is doing well after spending most of the past week in the hospital.
“We actually expect Harrison Smith to arrive on Wednesday,” Zimmer said. “I have to think of who else, [Kenny] Willekes, he has to pass some tests. I don’t remember who there was all the rest. [Ryan] Connelly will be back Wednesday or Thursday, I think.”
It looks like starters Bradbury and Smith will be available this week after missing the last two games. Smith will obviously step into his all-time role once he’s ready to go, no matter how well Camryn Bynum has played in his absence. It may not be so simple with Bradbury.
Could Mason Cole continue to play? “We had this conversation.”
Cole has impressed as a substitute for Bradbury in the last two games. He had a great PFF rating against the Ravens, allowing only one pressure in this game (admittedly with the advantage of Baltimore nose tackle Brandon Williams missing). Facing Linval Joseph and the Chargers’ inside defensive line, Cole’s rating was merely average and he was charged with giving up three presses. Still, he’s been more reliable in two games than Bradbury has been for virtually his entire 2.5-year career.
Is there a way for Cole to stay in the lineup against the Packers, even with Bradbury back this week?
“We had this conversation,” Zimmer said. “We’ll just have to see this week in training. Bradbury hasn’t been here for two weeks, or I think he’s missed two weeks now. We’ll just have to sort that out this week. But Mason did a really good job. He did a great job. We’ll just try to figure that out. It’s better than having no options.”
This is an interesting and non-binding answer. I would always assume the Vikings would return to Bradbury – their 2019 first-round pick – eventually, but maybe they’ll give Cole another chance this week and allow Bradbury to return to action after his stint on the COVID list. It’s a long shot, but maybe they’d give Cole a shot at right guard considering Oli Udoh has really struggled to protect passes lately and has committed eight penalties over the course of the game. of the last four games.
- In the team still fighting: “I think the most important thing is the character in the dressing room. We had a lot of tough defeats, but we also had a lot of chances to win those games. I think it was important that we won yesterday because that they keep trying hard and they keep trying hard and they haven’t had much to show I think that should energize us a little bit more but a lot of guys went there- in and played well. And typically when you have a good character in the dressing room, the guys keep fighting. But it was important for us to win yesterday.”
- If he watched the NFC playoffs picture: “Uh, not really. We fought so hard and so hard to try and come back to get wins. I don’t think when you’re 3-5 you think about those things. We mentioned it, you know , there’s been a lot of times where we’ve been on a roll and keep improving. We just have to find ways to win games. So hopefully we keep doing that. Hopefully we get more wins and we can start talking about it a bit more, I think.”
- On Kirk Cousins’ aggression: “Well, I think Kirk, you know, I don’t think he cares about throwing interceptions. I know he doesn’t want to throw them, no quarterback does. But I think at the early in the game they kind of gave us different looks with the safeties and did a pretty good job of disguising and he was getting the ball out and getting it into other areas.While later in the baseball game , I think he had a really good feel. And there were times when we needed to get the ball across the court. JJ had some great catches, Adam had some great takes. It’s a bit like it was earlier in the year, forcing these guys to go for the football and feed off their touches.”
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