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Originally published Friday, January 17, 2014 at 8:26 PM

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New Vikings coach Zimmer will ‘push you as hard as he can’

General manager Rick Spielman led interviews of seven candidates. The straight talk, leadership skills and strategic expertise set Zimmer apart.

The Assoicated Press

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The long wait to be an NFL head coach didn’t cost Mike Zimmer his confidence.

After 35 years in the game as an assistant and two full decades in the league, his opportunity has finally arrived with Minnesota. Zimmer’s self-assured style, the edge softened by down-to-earth Midwest roots, helped him be successful. It’s one of the reasons the Vikings gave him the job.

“Sometimes you wonder. But I have a lot of confidence in myself. I feel like I was destined to do this, and for the first couple of days I’ve been here, that office upstairs feels really comfortable,” Zimmer said at his introductory news conference Friday. “I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. I want to make sure that 31 other teams know that I’m here and I’m ready to coach this football team.”

General manager Rick Spielman led interviews of seven candidates. The straight talk, leadership skills and strategic expertise set Zimmer apart.

“He’s going to push you as hard as he can. But every person, to a man, talked about how much they loved playing for coach Zimmer,” Spielman said.

Over the last 14 seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator, six most recently with Cincinnati, Zimmer developed a reputation as a demanding, intense, rant-prone coach. The HBO behind-the-scenes show “Hard Knocks,” which twice filmed Bengals training camp, helped raise his fiery profile with swearing-like-a-sailor clips from practice and games.


• New Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt has hired Chargers assistant coach Jason Michael as his new offensive coordinator.

Michael worked this past season with Whisenhunt in San Diego. Michael spent the past three seasons coaching tight ends for the Chargers.

Jim Haslett will remain with the Washington Redskins as defensive coordinator under new coach Jay Gruden. The Redskins also announced that Chris Foerster will stay on as offensive line coach and that Wes Phillips has been hired as tight ends coach.

• Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent’s case in a fatal wreck that left his close friend and teammate dead will soon head to a jury, after his attorneys finished their case in one day, arguing again that he wasn’t drunk during the crash.

The December 2012 wreck in the Dallas suburb of Irving killed Jerry Brown, a practice squad linebacker who played with Brent at the University of Illinois.

• New Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell is turning to a familiar face to become his defensive coordinator. The Lions hired Teryl Austin, who spent the past three seasons as the defensive backs coach in Baltimore where Caldwell was an assistant before taking over in Detroit. The Lions also said they have hired Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan as linebackers coach.

• After a season of defensive struggles, Green Bay Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said Friday he was leaving the team to spend more time with his wife and children.

• Cleveland Browns receiver Davone Bess was arrested Friday on charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport, the latest in a series of personal problems for the NFL player.

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