EAGAN, Minn. (KMSP) - It’s the second day of Vikings training camp and the rookies are already reaping the benefits of working with some of the veterans.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is already in camp and working. It’s just another way he is taking ownership of his starting quarterback role.
“If there is a quarterback competition, you don’t have [a quarterback], you don’t have one,” said John DeFilippo, Vikings Offensive Coordinator. “And I’ve been at spots before where there is quarterback competition and you’re worried.”
The Vikings do indeed have a quarterback and they are not worried. They let Cousins know he’s the starter immediately and that has made a world of difference.
“I think internal competition has healthy, it certainly can bring out the best in you, but to an extent at some point, you have to be given a license to lead,” said Cousins. “So I’ve been in those situations in the past, going back to college where I didn’t know if I would start and so it was really hard to assert my personality in the locker room because I didn’t want to step on the toes of the other people.”
“We don’t have that here and I think we exude that confidence in Kirk,” said said DeFilippo. “I think he exudes that confidence in us and we’re really looking forward to him playing well this year.”
Cousins says he’s surprised at how quickly his Vikings teammates have given him a license to lead.
“I thought they were going to want me to prove myself a little bit longer than I had to, they were very supportive and said, ‘No man, it’s your show, let’s go,’” said Cousins.
Cousin’s teammates say it means a lot to see Cousins already reporting to camp.
“Yea absolutely, I think that’s what you want out of your quarterback. I think it would be more of a thing if he wasn’t here, but all the quarterbacks are here,” said Brian O'Neill, Vikings rookie offensive tackle. “Their job requires a lot more mental aptitude in the first couple days and first couple weeks. Having them here has been great and there’s been no drop off from the spring.”
“There’s not a lot of egos, you know, egos can get in the way of being able to get on the same page and have progress, so when there’s humility and there are people willing to listen and defer to one another, I think that can really help,” said Cousins.
Stability and continuity is a big help as well, even though it’s just been a few months, the routine and familiarity has been promoting growth, especially for the rookies like O’Neill.
“Anytime when you go into something like OTA’s after the draft and there’s do much buildup leading into that, you’re a little antsy, a little – just so excited,” said O'Neill. “Now, for the last couple of weeks it’s been like, ‘Alright football’s here and it’s training camp’ and it’s not a new city and it’s not new teams or coaches or anything – it’s football season. So, that’s been in the back of my mind. It’s playing ball.”
“Brian, I think has gotten stronger over the summer,” said DeFilippo. “I think he’s got – I saw him anchor down yesterday. When I say anchor, I mean kind of be able to stymie the defensive end at the line of scrimmage. I saw better combination blocks out of him and [Colby] Gossett on the right side yesterday. So I think, it’s just the combination of getting those reps from spring has really done well, carrying over from spring.”