Thanks to his daughters, Mike Zimmer is one of the baby boomers' great texters. So Thursday's announcement that ZimFest is coming to Paul Brown Stadium for two training camp practices before Zimmer's Vikings play the Bengals in the 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 pre-season opener is going to be nothing but one long thread.
"I do, all the time. We have a really good relationship. We talk all the time," said Bengals cornerback Adam Jones of Zimmer. "It will be good. I'm quite sure he's going to be coaching both sides of the ball. Zim is one of those guys he's going to let you know when you're doing something wrong or right. It will be a great time for us as far as learning and competing against someone else besides ourselves. We'll know each other pretty good, so it will be pretty funny."
Jones is one of 17 Cincinnati players that worked under Zimmer when he was the Bengals defensive coordinator in the six seasons from 2008-13 and in four of them they finished in the top ten and went to the postseason. Two of the coaches, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Kevin Coyle, were also here for much of that stretch.
Zimmer became a popular figure in Cincinnati and felt comfortable enough here to buy a hunting ranch. He plans a housewarming over the summer and he'll be back almost right away with the 3 p.m. practice on Aug. 10 and the 11 a.m. practice on Aug. 11 on the practice fields adjacent to the stadium free of charge.
"I'm sure we'll go get some dinner," said Guenther of that week in August. "Like I said, I owe a lot to him. He's a mentor of mine. I'm so happy that he's doing well and I'll be happy to see him when he comes here.
Zimmer matched the Bengals' AFC North title with an NFC North flag this past season in his second year in Minnesota and told the Bengals in a press release, ""Having such a great relationship with Marvin (Lewis) and the Bengals organization, it makes it a perfect fit for us to practice there."
Zimmer brings three former Bengals in with him, cornerback Terence Newman, right tackle Andre Smith, and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur.
"Very similar scheme-wise to what we're both doing, but you're going against a different skill set, they may have some different tweaks that they're putting in," Guenther said. "It's always good. When you get to that point in training camp, you're getting tired of practicing against your own guys. When these guys come in, you're practicing against somebody else. It makes it a little more competitive."
Joint practices are starting to become an annual thing with Lewis. Before the Bengals opened the preseason last year with the Giants at PBS they held two practices.
"The object of it is to get good work and compete against other guys and make sure we're playing in between the lines and no one gets hurt," Jones said. "I think everyone is eager for the challenge."