Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t worried about rookie cornerback Trae Waynes, even if Twitter was close to exploding over his play last night. The first-round draft pick was called for multiple holding and pass interference penalties throughout the night while struggling to play off coverage against the Steelers’ backup receivers.
Waynes played 54 defensive snaps — just behind fellow rookie Danielle Hunter — seeing his first action at left cornerback on the Vikings’ third play from scrimmage. Despite his early struggles, Zimmer kept Waynes in for 84 percent of the defense’s snaps. Why?:
“Part of the thing, what I wanted to do, was not take him out. I wanted to find out what kind of toughness he had when things happen like that. When you get a couple of penalties on you, how are you going to fight back, how are you going to respond?”
“I thought he did a nice job with those things, but he’s just got to learn some of the technical things about the NFL. Athletically, and the type of kid he is, he’s going to be fine.”
The biggest knock on Waynes coming out of Michigan State was his grabbiness and physicality in coverage. He often tugged opposing receivers’ jerseys, hooked their wrists at the catch point, and jammed well past five yards down the field. In the NFL, those same tactics are almost impossible to get away with, and that showed throughout the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday night.