Kirk Cousins confident Vikings QBs can avoid COVID-19 outbreak

Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 16, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. ((Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images))

It was bound to happen at some point as the NFL forged ahead with its season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last Sunday, the Denver Broncos didn’t have a quarterback as they faced the New Orleans Saints. Jeff Driskel was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles all had to quarantine and couldn’t play after being considered high-risk COVID-19 close contacts. They now face discipline and fines for not consistently wearing masks around their practice facility.

It forced the Broncos to use practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback. It didn’t end well, a 31-3 loss. Tight end Noah Fant, among others, took to social media disgusted that they had to play the game without a quarterback.

Back in Minnesota, TCO Performance Center and all other NFL facilities were closed Monday and Tuesday with COVID-19 cases rising. Mike Zimmer revealed Monday if COVID-19 wipes out their quarterback room, Adam Thielen is the emergency quarterback. He missed last week’s game after a positive test himself, and watched their win over the Carolina Panthers at home. His back-up? Tight end Kyle Rudolph.

“Hopefully we don’t lose four quarterbacks,” Zimmer joked.

Kirk Cousins, who came under fire earlier this year for comments on a podcasts regarding masks and COVID-19, is confident a positional outbreak is unlikely to happen with the Vikings. In addition to their daily testing, temperature checks and contact tracing devices, their meeting room is spaced out to allow for social distancing.

They’re actually on their third meeting room as a quarterback room to be extra cautious. Masks are mandatory.

“Our staff has gone to tremendous lengths to avoid those circumstances from happening. There are basically mask police in our building who are opening doors in meetings and seeing if everybody has their masks on. If you don’t have your mask on, you’re being chastised pretty strongly,” Cousins said. “It’s being monitored from the moment you step in the building to the moment you leave. It’s just been beat into us since the end of July as to the habits we have to have. To this point, it’s been effective and we’ve got to be very vigilant to keep ahead.”

If Cousins ever tests positive, Sean Mannion, Jake Browning and Nate Stanley would all likely have to quarantine. The team has been in enhanced COVID-19 protocols most of the season, and they’ve had enough virtual meetings that it’s almost become normal.

Mannion said the situation in Denver serves as a reminder to take the global health pandemic seriously.

“I think you’ve always thought this is a possibility of something kind of going awry like that, to see it happen with Denver, it’s kind of something that was in the back of your mind you though things could happen in that way,” Mannion said. “I think it’s just another reminder for us to keep being diligent with all the protocols.”

With all due respect to Thielen and Rudolph, Zimmer and the quarterback room would prefer that they be asked to catch the ball instead of throw it.