MINNEAPOLIS - It’s been largely business as usual for the Minnesota Vikings as they go through Week 3 of organized team activities at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
That’s a good thing, while drama continues to unfold for the Green Bay Packers, with Aaron Rodgers not at mandatory minicamp and Jordan Love taking center stage. Back in early May, the Vikings could’ve had their own drama after taking Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond in the third round, No. 66 overall. Unlike the Packers with Rodgers, the Vikings contacted Cousins about that possibility in the NFL Draft.
Cousins is under contract for two more seasons, and he’s the No. 1 quarterback barring injury.
"There was good communication through the process, and Kellen has been great," Cousins said Wednesday.
He’s also doing his part to help the rookie get acclimated to the NFL, on and off the field. Cousins leaned on Rex Grossman when he was a rookie in 2012 with the Washington Redskins. Cousins mentored Nate Sudfeld in Washington, and has done the same with Nate Stanley, Jake Browning and Mond so far.
"You’re an open book, you’re helpful and you’re there and you make yourself available," Cousins said. "I’ve been there and want to certainly be that same resource whenever possible."
Cousins is coming off throwing for more than 4,200 yards and a career-high 35 touchdown passes. Yet the offseason, like it is every year, is about self-evaluation and trying to improve. So what has he done?
He’s watched tape of every game he’s ever played in the NFL, 109 to be exact, and 104 as a starter. He has it set up so he can watch old tape of himself at home when not at the team facility.
"I regret that I hadn’t done it earlier in my career. I do think it’s a really valuable resource to have and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do it sooner in my career," Cousins said.
Cousins also watched "The Brady 6," a documentary on the six quarterbacks taken ahead of Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft. They are Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn. Brady, a sixth round pick, was taken No. 199 overall.
Brady just won his sixth Super Bowl.
"Tom at one point said ‘I watch myself on film and to this day, I still don’t feel like I’m that good.’ When he said it, I was in college but I understood what he meant. Now going back and watching my career, I would echo that same sentiment. I watch myself in 2012, 13 and 14 and think man, I’m such a better quarterback now, I can’t believe the coaches didn’t just cut me when I made that mistake. I can’t believe they were so patient with me," Cousins said.
The Vikings held their final OTA session open to the media on Wednesday, and as has been the case the last three weeks, nearly every rostered player was there. Absent were Danielle Hunter, Mackensie Alexander, Jeff Gladney and Alexander Mattison. Christian Darrisaw was at the facility, but didn’t practice.
Cameron Dantzler was limited, and the first-team defensive backs were Patrick Peterson, Harrison Hand and Kris Boyd. Mike Zimmer worked personally through drills with Peterson and newest defensive back, Bashaud Breeland.
It’s clear after finishing 7-9 last season, and not having an offseason this time last year, the Vikings considered it crucial to have as many players as possible at voluntary workouts.
"I do think chemistry is important. I remember back at Michigan State, our team got better as we got to know each other better and as we got to spend more time with one another. This time, OTAs, gives us a chance to do that. You always believe that there’s that extra inch or that extra heartbeat that comes from that that can help you win on Sundays in the fall," Cousins said.
Same goes for Justin Jefferson, who spent most of his rookie offseason last year on a laptop on Zoom meetings.
"We’re very motivated. Everyone is working, everyone wants to get better and it’s good to have this time together to connect with each other, to build everything really. We’re starting off fresh, so this is a good start for us," Jefferson said. "It’s definitely way better than sitting in front of a computer."
The Vikings have mandatory minicamp next Tuesday-Thursday at TCO Performance Center, where all eyes will be on if Hunter and/or Gladney are in attendance.