Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will not be at the team’s OTA sessions as he continues to recover from the eye ailment that plagued him last season. Zimmer’s follow-up surgeries this offseason to continue to fix his detached retina will prevent him from returning to coach the team this week.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman issued a statement.
“As the Vikings begin OTA practices, Coach Zimmer will be taking time away from the team to dedicate to recovering from eye surgery and restoring his health. We all agree Mike’s health is the priority and we believe rest and recovery are in his best interest for the long term. We anticipate Mike back on the field in a few weeks.”
Zimmer joined Paul Allen on KFAN and said that he’s driving to Kentucky where Zimmer will have the latest surgery and will take the next few weeks to recuperate at his ranch there. Although Zimmer said he pushed back at the doctors’ recommendation to take the time off, he knew it would be best for his long-term health.
At one point, the pressure in his eye was concerning and he had developed cataracts after the multiple procedures on it. But Zimmer added that so far, everything looks good with the overall health of his eye and that he feels he should be good for the long term.
Certainly, the fact that he’s expected back in a few weeks is encouraging. But this was not a simple problem when it cropped up last season. Zimmer said this offseason that he needed two more procedures to continue the healing, and he initially delayed the first procedure because it would have delayed him from traveling to visit with and scout NFL draft prospects.
Zimmer suffered the detached retina at some point during the Halloween night loss last season to the Chicago Bears and was forced to miss the game against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 1 because of emergency surgery the night prior. It was the first time Zimmer had missed a game in his 23-year NFL career, replaced by Mike Priefer as interim coach in the 17-15 Thursday night loss.
After a 3-0 start, the Vikings fell to 8-8 in a brutal season that included the losses of Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson for the majority of the season. But Zimmer’s injury — he had four surgeries all told last year — can’t be overlooked amid the Vikings’ struggles.
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