Mike Zimmer optimistic about his father's health

MANKATO, Minn. -- Both Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and linebackers coach Adam Zimmer were back with the team on Thursday, after a trip to Florida ended with some positive news about Mike Zimmer's ailing father Bill.

Bill Zimmer had a spinal stimulator put in his back about two years ago when doctors hit a nerve that made his leg go numb, Mike Zimmer said. "He hasn't eaten in about two weeks now," Mike Zimmer said of his 84-year-old father. "But he's tough. He's way tougher than I am."

Mike Zimmer and his three kids -- Adam, Corri and Marki -- all made the trip to Florida for Bill Zimmer's procedure this week. Mike Zimmer said his father had another procedure scheduled for Thursday. "I think, hopefully, today’s procedure went good and they’ll eventually get him to a longer term facility," Mike Zimmer said. "If today’s thing went good, I think he’s going to be OK."

The elder Zimmer coached his son at Lockport Township (Ill.) High School, where Mike played quarterback and linebacker. Ever the football coach, Bill Zimmer got a chance to watch some Vikings film on Mike's ubiquitous tablet during the trip.

"Corri says, ‘Dad, why don’t you watch football practice with him?’" Mike Zimmer said. "So I took the iPad out and he’s laying in bed flat and he’s got his hands under the covers and I put the iPad in front of him and I’m running plays and, shoot, he’s trying to get his hands on it and he’s holding that iPad and he must have watched it for five minutes. That was pretty cool."

If all goes well, Mike Zimmer said he didn't anticipate needing to make another trip to Florida. He'd been hoping to fly his parents to Minnesota in September, and sounded hopeful on Thursday that could still happen.

"[The visit] was really good for my mom, No. 1, and also my dad," Mike Zimmer said. "The nurse would tell him to do something he wouldn’t do it but if I told him to do something, he did it. It was good in that way."

Here are some other notes from Thursday's practice:

  • In addition to Anthony Barr, Gavin Lutman, Joe Berger, David Yankey, B.J. Dubose and Scott Crichton didn't practice on Thursday.

  • Zimmer said he hadn't decided yet how much his starters would play in Sunday's preseason opener. "I don't know yet," he said. "It depends on my mood. [They could get out early] if I see things I like."

  • The coach hasn't seemed to mind the idea of a fifth preseason game, and said next year, when the Vikings are back to four preseason games, they could wind up scheduling a practice with another team. "The more competition we have, and the more situation we have throughout the game, I think it'll be good," Zimmer said.

  • Wide receiver Adam Thielen is putting together another solid training camp on his old college practice field, and he continued to get a little more work with the first-team offense on Thursday, making a diving catch on the sidelines on a throw from Teddy Bridgewater. "He had a couple good catches. He had a nice '7' (corner route) catch on third-and-12," Zimmer said. "He works his rear end off. He's a good kid."

  • The Vikings tweeted a slow-motion video of Adrian Peterson knocking down Gerald Hodges on a run during Tuesday night's practice, leading Hodges to jokingly fire back at the team's Twitter account and remind them Peterson couldn't be hit during practice. "I didn't technically run him over," Peterson said in mock protest. "It could have been worse than that when I came out of the hole. I saw him coming out of the spin. I wanted to give him more of a shove instead of lowering my shoulder and speeding up. It could have been a lot worse than that."