By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings have yet to lose under Mike Zimmer. The first-time, first-year head coach led the Vikings to a 4-0 preseason and then a blow out victory over the St. Louis Rams in the opener.
National perception was not on the Vikings side before the season started. Minnesota was picked to finish last in the NFC North Division. That perception be changing quickly, but it does not matter to the Vikings.
“I don’t really worry too much about what other people think,” Zimmer said. “I just watch how these guys practice, how they play, how they prepare. Our whole focus is about us getting better, not really about what people think about us, other than what I’ve said about our fans. I hope they like how we play, like how we prepare, but our focus is really on us all the time and how we can get better each and every day.”
The Vikings will get a true test of where their season is headed in the coming weeks as they face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 2. Following the Patriots are the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
“I’m not trying to preach caution whatsoever, I’m just trying to be realistic,” Zimmer said. “This is one game out of 16, 15 now, and I know what we have to do to be a good football team. I think I’m trying to teach our players what we have to do to be a good football team. It’s not about caution, I understand that we haven’t lost in the preseason and like I’ve said before, it’s so much, to me, about the process about how we accomplish things, not so much what the record is at this particular point in time. There will be plenty of time as we keep playing these games that people will talk about the records and this is just one week and preseason was the preseason so we’re just on to a different venue really. The schedule, as everybody has point out, it’s a little different deal going this week.”
The national perception remains in check. Mike Golic of the Mike and Mike Radio Show on ESPN radio said that he still does not know about the Vikings this season. Former Vikings Cris Carter joined the program and voiced his concern over the team’s ability to throw the ball at TCF Bank Stadium when it gets cold.
Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson all left Sunday’s game with an injury, but Zimmer does not think they will be problems.
Robinson is “fine,” Floyd and Rhodes are day-to-day. Zimmer also mentioned Mike Mauti and Zach Line. All of them should be practicing within the next couple days.
Fusco signs extension
The Vikings and Brandon Fusco agreed to a five-year contract extension Saturday. He has started all but one of the team’s last 33 games.
“He’s got a lot of toughness, he plays every week,” Zimmer said. “He’s got physicality in the running game. He’s smart. He does a good job in protections. When the fans don’t know some of the offensive linemen, I think that’s a good thing, because they’re doing their job all of the time and that’s one thing that Brandon always does is, he does his job and we’re very, very excited to have him for five more years.”
Continuity is important to the Vikings and it shows with the commitment to keep the same starting offensive linemen together. The Vikings have had the same five starting offensive linemen since Fusco and Matt Kalil joined the group in 2012.
The Vikings cut safety Jamarca Sanford after they agreed to an injury settlement. A few nagging injuries put the veteran on injured reserve at the end of the preseason. He played 70 games for the Vikings over five seasons. In that time, he amassed 267 combined tackles, one sack, eight forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, two interceptions and 11 passes defensed.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.