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Mike Zimmer calls out Xavier Rhodes: 'He needs to live up to contract'

Mike Zimmer wants Xavier Rhodes to return to All-Pro form.

Speaking at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona on Tuesday, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said former All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes needs to play better in 2019. 

"Xavier needs to play better," said Zimmer, via Vikings.com. "I'm going to make sure that he plays better because those guys are important in our defense and what we do. That's going to be part of it. It's partly my job to make sure that he plays better, and I'm going to."

Zimmer said Rhodes' technique wasn't as good in 2018 as it was during his All-Pro 2017 season. 

"I just don’t think he played as well as he can play," Zimmer continued. "He needs to play up to his ability level. We’re paying him a lot of money. He needs to play up to that contract."

Rhodes signed a five-year, $70 million contract in 2018 and is due to make a $10.4 million base salary in 2019. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Rhodes ranked 99th in coverage among NFL cornerbacks with an overall grade of 55.1, but the analytics website put Rhodes on a list of 10 players expected to bounce back nicely in 2019. 

"Rhodes has never quite graded out at a level that matched his public perception. Much of that was due to a fairly severe penalty problem that saw him average over 10 a season for the past four years. In 2018 those penalties persisted (he had nine), but his efficiency when targeted wasn’t close to years past. He allowed the highest completion percentage of his career (65.2%), the second-highest passer rating (88.4), and totaled the fewest combined picks and pass breakups (6). He’ll only be 29 in 2019 though and there’s little reason to believe it was any more than a blip on a solid career."

It'd be unfair to Rhodes, however, if it's not noted that he dealt with foot, hamstring and groin injuries last season, causing him to miss two games and be listed as questionable going into five games. 

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