G Zak Zinter (5.11.24)

We haven’t had much of a chance to really get to know Andy Dickerson since he’s been hired. How would, as somebody who’s only just getting to know him, how would you describe him to somebody in terms of the kind of coach he is, the interactions you’ve had with him?

“Yeah, I mean, obviously, great dude, great guy, phenomenal coach. It’s been fun getting to know him, just like you know what I mean, I’ve only been in the meeting room a couple of times with him so far, but, just being around him, learning the way he coaches and the way, he coached us out on the field has been great so far.”


How did it feel just to be back out on the field yesterday, getting to do some football stuff?

“Oh, man, it felt great. I’ve been itching to get back out there on the field, you know what I mean? Going through the whole process and doing all that and not be able to compete and do anything, it felt great. That’s what I’ve been working for my whole rehab, is get back out there.”


Did you wake up feeling pretty good this morning?

“I did, yeah. Yeah.

I mean, obviously a little sore just being back out there, but I know I’m not as sore as I thought I was going to be, so, that was nice when I woke up.”


Kevin said that they put you through some basic stuff since it has been so long. What are some of the things you were trying to hone in on?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s been a minute, so just getting out there, knocking the rust back off, but, I mean, it’s fun, you know what I mean? Just learning the playbook, getting out there, moving around with the guys, you know, learning how the dudes are moving next to me, the communication, all that good stuff for sure”


Is that the most you’ve done since the injury?

“Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’ve been working out, doing my rehab and all that, but collectively, definitely the most I’ve done”


Kevin was talking about a lot of this weekend about teaching and learning for you guys. So what’s kind of your process and you’re getting acclimated to the Browns?

“Yeah, I mean, I’m still trying to learn everyone’s names. There’s a lot of names, you know what I mean? Learning all the new calls, the new playbook, and all the new plays. But, I think that’s the beauty of rookie minicamp, is just all us rookies here, learning together, learning from each other. If I make a mistake or someone else makes a mistake–learning from that and trying not to let it happen again. Just all the new lingo, different ways the coaches coach. So there’s been a lot for sure”


Zak, how much experience do you have on the left side?

“Yeah, so I’ve never played any game time at left, but coach Moore, our o-line coach was great last year. Me and Trevor, we’d be in spring ball or camp and it gets kind of repetitive, so he’d switch us around and move us around. So I’ve got work at left and center.”


So how much has coach Dickerson talked about getting reps there?

“Yeah, I mean, were just taking it right yesterday, but he said we’re going to…once we get the basics down, we’re going to start switching around, moving all over the place”


What do you look for? I mean, you’ve had a number of line coaches over your career. I mean, what to you makes a good line coach? What are you looking for? Maybe not even in a good line coach, but just a good coach.

“I mean, especially in the line room, there’s so much you can critique on every play. I mean, even if it’s, you know, an explosive run and , the backer’s not touched till safety, I mean, there’s still something you can always correct, whether it’s footwork or hand placement. I mean, there’s something small that you can correct damn near on every play. So, you know, just a coach that’s looking at that and, you know, able to coach us and teach us that for sure.”


What’s it like adjusting to a new position coach? Not only that, but you’re learning new drills and techniques and things like that right out of the gate.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of like, you know, you’re a freshman in college again, but you’re starting all over, so just learning the way they coach, the new playbook, the new lingo. It’s a lot to take in, but you you slowly start picking it up and, you know, we’ve been making flashcards and all that good stuff. So, you know, it’s been going really smooth so far.”


Will you stay next week for the start of OTAs?

“Yes. I will be here until we get off at the end of June or whenever it is”


You don’t have any academic obligations?

No. So I graduated in December.”


What was your degree in?

“Sports management.”


What’s it been like living in Ohio?

“You know, it hasn’t been bad. I mean, I’ve been saying I feel like there’s much worse states I could have moved to. You know, I flew into Detroit, drove my stuff down here. So it was an easy move for me. So I’m happy to be here, for sure.”


The reputation doesn’t go along with Cleveland. It’s just down there to ourselves.

Yeah, you know, I mean, there’s obviously the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry and all that, but,  Mike’s (Hall) here now, so, I mean, we’re in the big leagues now. You know, it’s a job. We’re all here to get paid. You know, we’re all here to help the team win on Sunday”


Is your transition been helped because you played at a place like Michigan? Probably run like a program. Obviously, your days are longer. It’s all about football now. Does it help that you played at a place like that?

“Yeah, I think it is. I think Michigan really prepared us well for even the whole process and the transition into the NFL. I think the way coach Harbaugh ran it, he ran it like he was coaching a pro team. So it’s been a really smooth transition so far.”


Speaking on transitions, Zak. Guys always talk about trusting the process. What do you anticipate some of the bigger adjustments?

“I mean, obviously, it’s all ball now, so, you know, there’s no school now, you don’t got to worry about any of that kind of stuff, and just really focus in on the playbook, learning all the new lingo. And once you get that nailed down, the game can really try to slow down for you because you’re not thinking about, I got to go this way, do all that. So, I mean, obviously, it’s going to be bigger, faster, stronger. Even the step from high school to college is another step from college to the NFL. So I’m excited to see what challenges it brings.”


This is kind of like orientation for you guys. Did coach Stefanski have any veterans stand in front of the room and address you guys?

“Not yet. I know some of the second year guys are coming back. I mean, we’ve been running into some of them, you know, coming in and out of the building, but no, not yet.”


The pull guard game had been a staple here the last couple of years, and obviously, Joel and Wyatt are some of the best in the business. I think you did some of that at Michigan. How much did you enjoy that?

“Yeah, I mean, we pulled a ton of Michigan, and it’s something I enjoy doing, and I think it’s a strength to my game, and I’m excited to meet Wyatt and Joel and just learn from those guys.”

Coming back for rookie minicamp. What was it like to walk into the building? What were those emotions like?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s real now. You know what I mean? You got the parking pass to get your car in. You got the face ID. So, you put the helmet, the jersey on. It’s like, it’s real. It’s my first job, you know what I mean? So, you know, I’m just excited to attack it.”


Can you explain how you could’ve came out last year but decided to come back. What went into that? And was it a group thing with the players?

“There’s probably six of us that were debating about leaving last year and going to the league. But I think it comes down to the culture we had in Michigan. And it was an individual, but kind of had a snowball effect, you know what I mean? Once one guy said, hey, ‘I want to run this thing back and try to win it all’, it’s like, well, I don’t want to be that one guy that didn’t go back and they win it all. Then you regret that for your whole life. So, you know, I don’t regret going back at all. It was one of the best years of my life.”


Was there any unfinished business?

“Yeah, unfinished business going into it. We had two years of losing in the playoffs, and that left a bad taste in a lot of our mouths.”


Was there any of those guys that came back that you really kind of latched on to while you were up there that you tried to learn from?

“I mean, guys like Taylor Lewan, Steve Hutchinson, they were around the building a good amount. Steve Hutchinson would come into the meeting room, tell us what he saw, how he broke down film. You know, he’d be out there at practice, after practice he’d be like, ‘Hey, I saw this or this’, talk about hand placement. So, I mean, there’s were definitely some older guys that came in to help us out.”


Do you have a favorite Harbaugh story?

“I mean, I got a lot of good stories about Coach Harbaugh. But I mean, he’s a great guy. He’s a great guy.”


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