MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings took the field for their walk-through at training camp on Thursday, but one notable name was not on the field at TCO Performance Center: Kirk Cousins.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said before the team’s afternoon practice Cousins was sent home because of an illness. Team officials did not say if it was COVID-19, or if he’s dealing with something else. O’Connell said Cousins’ status for Sunday’s preseason opener at the Las Vegas Raiders is up in the air, and he left the door open that Cousins may not travel with the team on Saturday.
"We’re still in that process, we’re in the process of trying to go through all that, make sure first and foremost what are you feeling? What’s going on? Then go through our in-house process. If it does end up being that, we’re on top of it," O’Connell said. "If it’s not, there’s still some other stuff going around that we want to make sure we’re being smart about the other 90 guys, coaches, everything. We’ll be smart and deal with it day by day."
If Cousins does test positive for COVID-19, he’ll have to spend a minimum of five days in isolation.
Kirk Cousins spoke with reporters after practice Tuesday as the Minnesota Vikings are in Week 2 of organized team activities at TCO Performance Center.
He took criticism from former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer last season after having to miss the team’s night practice at TCO Stadium due to his vaccination status. Cousins was considered a close contact to Kellen Mond, who had tested positive for COVID-19 that week. That left Jake Browning as the only quarterback available for that night practice, and Cousins missed nearly a week of camp.
Cousins also missed last year’s Week 17 loss at the Green Bay Packers due to COVID-19. The Vikings lost that game, and were eliminated from playoff contention.
If Cousins can’t play Sunday at Las Vegas, the snaps will be split between Sean Mannion and Mond.
If Cousins can travel, it’s not immediately clear if Cousins will play in the first preseason game.
"I’ve kind of had a plan in my mind as far as playing time throughout the preseason for him. Obviously getting on a plane and doing all the travel stuff anyway, regardless of how he currently feels, what will matter is when it’s time to get on the plane Saturday and go," O’Connell said.
HOW MUCH WILL VIKINGS STARTERS PLAY IN FIRST PRESEASON GAME?
As for other starters, O’Connell said he’s finalizing plans for several players before Sunday’s game at the Raiders. Some likely won’t play at all, some will get a few snaps and those that he and the rest of the coaching staff need to see in game action will play.
He’ll handle it with care, as the San Francisco 49ers come to town next week for joint practices with the Vikings ahead of their preseason game on Aug. 20 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"I told them regardless of whether you end up playing, regardless of if you play a series, a quarter, a half or the whole game, this is really going to be an opportunity with a Sunday game for us to at least wrap our minds around the process of a game week," O’Connell said. "Who do we want to see play? Who do we need to see play in certain competitive situations that we can’t duplicate or replicate out here practicing? We’ll be smart with the group, but at the same time there’s some guys that we’re really counting on this year that will be out there to get some live snaps."
Sunday will also mark O’Connell’s unofficial debut as the Vikings’ head coach, against friend and mentor Josh McDaniels.
"I have thought about it, I’m excited about it. Regardless of the result truly mattering for our team, it’s still important for me to make sure I’m going through my process not only as a play-caller, but as a head coach providing our team with what it’s going to take for us to have a positive showing. We want to win the football game, but at the same time there’s a lot of internal battles going on for positions, there’s guys really trying to fight to make our team that have done everything we’ve asked them to do," O’Connell said.