Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his players have heard all week about how Mike Zimmer shut down the Patriots offense last season when he was the defensive coordinator for the Bengals.
In that game, the Bengals sacked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady four times and disrupted his timing with his receivers. Brady completed just 47.4 percent of his passes and his touchdown streak was snapped in a 13-6 Bengals win. The Patriots were 1-for-12 on third down that afternoon.
Belichick was asked his morning if he expected Zimmer to stick with same game plan Sunday.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if they Xeroxed the same game plan,” Belichick said. “They did a good job. Yeah, we’re certainly prepared for that, if they just do the same thing they did last year. It wouldn’t shock me at all, until we show we can do something about it. We didn’t do much last year.”
Zimmer, asked about the game earlier this week, said it was a different team in a different situation.
“It rained like crazy the last minute of the ball game. It’s completely different,” Zimmer said. “Obviously you look at the tape but you don’t think that everything is going to be the same.”
On Wednesday, I asked Zimmer if while trying to win the chess match with Belichick and Brady he has to be careful not to overthink things and abandon the things his Vikings defense does well.
“Well, I’m really not that smart anyway so I just kind of, we focus on our guys and what we think is the best thing to do each week,” Zimmer said. “Obviously it’s a great challenge against not only those two guys but they’ve got a lot of other good players too. We’re, so far, in the infancy stages of what we’re trying to do in this program that we want to go out and perform well each and every week. Like I’ve said before, this is the process that we’re trying to build here.”
So I guess we must wait until Sunday to see if Zimmer gave his Xerox machine a workout.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd returned to practice today.
Peterson was at Winter Park yesterday but was excused from practice for a non-injury-related issue.
Floyd, meanwhile, was back at practice and wearing a helmet while participating in individual drills in the portion of practice open to media. Floyd missed practice the previous two days with a shoulder injury suffered in the fourth quarter of the win over the Rams. Head coach Mike Zimmer said a day ago there’s a good chance both Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes will play against the Patriots.
Rhodes, who is dealing with a groin injury suffered last Sunday, practiced for a second straight day.
The only Vikings player who didn’t appear to be participating was outside linebacker Brandon Watts.