EAGAN, Minn. -- If Darren Woodson ever is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame, he knows who his presenter would be.
“If I go into the hall of fame, Mike Zimmer is putting me in,’’ Woodson said in a phone interview. “He’d be my presenter absolutely.’’
The safety played with Dallas from 1992-2003, making five Pro Bowls and earning three first-team all-pro selections. All those honors came with Zimmer as an assistant.
Zimmer, a Cowboys defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator from 1995-2006, is in his sixth season as Minnesota’s coach. He will return to Dallas on Sunday to face the Cowboys in a regular-season game for the first time as a head coach.
“I owe so much to Zim,’’ Woodson said. “When I had my best of times, he was right there. When I had my worst of times, he was always there for me. He was truthful and honest and fully transparent more than anything. He was a man I wanted to win for.’’
In Zimmer’s first Cowboys season of 1994, Woodson was named all-pro and to the Pro Bowl. He repeated those honors in 1995, and Dallas won the Super Bowl.
“He pushed me to be so much better as a cover guy than I ever thought that I could,’’ Woodson said. “My cover skills went to the next level under Zim.”
Woodson, 50, has maintained a close relationship with Zimmer. He worked with Minnesota defensive backs for a day at training camp in 2018.
Woodson was named to the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2015. He was one of 25 semifinalists for the hall of fame for the last class but did not make the cut to 15 finalists.
“There will be a little bit of comfort there just because I’ve played so many games (at AT&T Stadium),” Bailey said. “But there’s not too many factors you have to account for in that stadium. It’s kind of like (U.S. Bank Stadium). It’s inside.’’
While with the Cowboys, Bailey made the Pro Bowl after the 2015 season and late in his tenure was the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. But after making 15 of 20 field-goal attempts in an injury-riddled 2017 season, he was let go in favor of Brett Maher.
“I had some good years there,’’ he said. “I back at it fondly. … (Getting released was) just the business side of it. I dealt with some injuries there, which I’m sure didn’t help my cause.’’
AT&T Stadium memories
Several Vikings players have fond memories of games at AT&T Stadium.
When quarterback Kirk Cousins was with Washington from 2012-17, the Redskins played there six times. Cousins didn’t play in his first visit, a 38-31 Washington win on Thanksgiving in 2012, but remembers well seeing the spectacular stadium for the first time.
“It certainly lived up to the expectation and the hype,’’ Cousins said. “It’s a great place to play a football game.’’
Cousins later went 1-2 as a Redskins starter at Dallas. In his first start there, the 2015 finale, he threw three touchdown passes in a 34-23 win.
Defensive end Danielle Hunter played there as an LSU sophomore in 2013, and the Tigers beat Texas Christian 37-27.
“The TV, that’s the first thing you see,’’ Hunter said. “That jumbotron is huge.’’
Tight end Irv Smith Jr. dressed out there for his first Alabama game in 2016, but didn’t play in a 52-6 win over USC.
“It was amazing as a freshman just to warm up in there,’’ Smith said. “It was one of the nicest stadiums in the world. Now, I’m looking forward to playing there.’’
Swap of safeties
Zimmer didn’t have a lot to say Friday about why the Vikings on Wednesday claimed safety Andrew Sendejo off waivers from Philadelphia. Sendejo had played with Minnesota from 2011-18.
“We thought he could help us,’’ Zimmer said of Sendejo, who was ruled out for Sunday with a groin injury.
To make room on the roster, the Vikings waived rookie safety Marcus Epps. They wanted to re-sign Epps to the practice squad but he was claimed by the Eagles.
“Things happen all the time,’’ Zimmer said.