MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Mike Zimmer is getting his first look at the Vikings’ newest additions this weekend as rookie minicamp gets underway.

The team added a couple of projected difference-makers in the draft, taking running back Dalvin Cook and offensive lineman Pat Elflein with their first two picks.

Zimmer talked about most of the rookies, giving his typically curt, blanket answers. Every new addition is “a smart guy,” and has a lot of work to do. He did mention that there was an open competition at running back, but that Cook is farther behind Jerick McKinnon and free agent addition Latavius Murray.

But as Zimmer looks to the future, he also offered answers on the past – specifically, how last season’s team went from Super Bowl contender to playoff outsiders.

“Going into last season, part of my whole goal was, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I wanted to make sure we got through the first game healthy. And so maybe I was a little bit cautious in some of the things,” Zimmer said.

“We’re going get back to being the Vikings and we’re going to be blue collar and we’re going to do things the way things – that got us to be, when we played teams that they respected the way that we played.”

Asked to be more specific, Zimmer pledged to push the team harder than he did last year.

“Quite honestly I don’t care how practice goes,” he said. “If the schedule says two hours and I’m not happy about it, were going to go 2:30, I don’t care, we’re going to do it until I feel good about it.”

The most interesting breadcrumb Zimmer dropped was in regards to Teddy Bridgewater’s continued recovery from a knee injury that crippled the Vikings’ hopes in August.

“I love Teddy Bridgewater. The guy is working his rear end off. Continues to fight every single day,” Zimmer said. “Everything about him, when he’s rehabbing and doing the work that he has to do, is the exact same way that he approaches life. I’m excited. I’m probably more optimistic now about him eventually playing than I have been at any point in time. But he’s still got a long ways to go.”

Bridgewater’s replacement Sam Bradford – take that however you want – will live or die (possibly literally) on the strength of the offensive line. The Vikings overhauled the line this offseason, signing free agents Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers and drafting the aforementioned Elflein.

As minicamp begins, optimism is high for the Vikings. With a 5-0 start still fresh on the minds of both the organization and the fans, there’s reason to believe this team is better than the one that finished 8-8 last year. But Zimmer’s statement on the offensive line stands as a warning for the team as a whole.

“I don’t know yet. We haven’t been out on the field,” Zimmer said. “I believe it’s a lot better, but we’ll have to see. Proof is in the pudding.”

[graphiq id=”gQoRzveGkg5″ title=”Teddy Bridgewater Best Games of Career” width=”600″ height=”591″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/gQoRzveGkg5″ ]


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