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Zimmer: Improving Vikings still have ‘a long way to go’

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — In grade school, there were the three “R’s.” At Winter Park, there are the four “L’s.” At least according to Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

“There are four ‘learns’ in football,” Zimmer said Monday after the Vikings won their third straight game to raise their record to 5-2. “You have to learn to compete. Then you have to learn to win. Then you have to learn how to handle winning. And, finally, you have to learn how to be a champion.

“We’re somewhere in the stages of learning how to win and how to handle winning.”

At 12-11, Zimmer is over .500 as an NFL head coach for the first time. He didn’t seem impressed when asked if that meant he was doing the right thing during his “rebuilding” of the Vikings franchise.

“We got a long way to go,” he said. “I’d say we’re moving in the right direction, but ‘rebuilding’ is not the word I’d use.”

–Defensive end Brian Robison was asked if the Vikings are equipped to handle “being the hunted” team rather than the team that’s more accustomed to the role of underdogs of late.

“We’ll be fine,” he said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. Next game. Put the ones that have passed us, like (Sunday) in Chicago, behind us and move on to the next game.”

Defensive end Everson Griffen, a rookie in 2010, has experienced only one winning season, one playoff game and no playoff victories. When asked about Zimmer cracking the .500 mark as a head coach for the first time, Griffen shrugged.

“Honestly, I didn’t know Zimmer was over .500,” he said. “I don’t keep track of all that. I only keep track of winning games. That’s my primary focus. As long as we keep on winning games, his average is going to keep going up. He’s going to be above .500, above whatever. We still have nine games to go. Our goal is to win these next nine games. They’re all going to be dog fights. But if we execute our calls, we’ll go out there and win the game.”

INJURY NOTES: DE Everson Griffen left Sunday’s game in Chicago because of s shoulder stinger, but is expected to play Sunday against the Rams. Rookie DE Danielle Hunter stepped in and finished the game for Griffen. Hunter had the game’s only sack while on the field with Griffen earlier in the game. … OT T.J. Clemmings also suffered a shoulder injury and was replaced by fellow rookie Austin Shepherd. Clemmings, who was praised by coach Mike Zimmer on Monday for his improved pass protection on Sunday, is expected to play this week.


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