Vikings Get Disappointing Update on Kirk Cousins Ahead of Preseason Opener

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings walks the sidelines during the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins will not be on the sidelines of Sunday’s preseason opener.

After Cousins left Thursday’s practice with an undisclosed illness, the Vikings announced on August 12 that he tested positive for COVID-19 and will not travel with the team for its preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders on August 14.

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This is the second time Cousins has tested positive for COVID-19 this year, previously missing 10 days of team activities and a Week 17 matchup with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers defeated the Vikings 37-10 and eliminated Minnesota from playoff contention in the Vikings’ penultimate game of the season.

The NFL and NFLPA have shelved the league’s COVID-19 protocols for the 2022 season, however, a player that tests positive must quarantine for five days after a positive test, per NFL.com.

Cousins is eligible to return to team activities on Tuesday, August 16, so long as he produces a negative test.

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Vikings Move on With Mannion & Mond

While Cousins not being with his team on Sunday is disappointing, the veteran quarterback was unlikely to play in the preseason opener.

After releasing their first depth chart, the Vikings are undecided on whether Sean Mannion or Kellen Mond will be their No. 2 quarterback heading into the 2022 season. Both quarterbacks have yet to prove they can be a serviceable replacement for Cousins.

Minnesota kept Mannion bound to a conservative game plan against the Packers last season. Mannion threw 22 of 36 pass attempts for 189 yards and a touchdown but was never a threat in the passing game. That rendered Dalvin Cook obsolete against a Green Bay defense that sold out to stop the star running back, holding Cook to nine rushes for 13 yards. The Vikings’ longest possession lasted a mere 3 minutes, 22 seconds.

Meanwhile, Mond hasn’t taken a considerable step forward in his second NFL season so far. The Texas A&M product was dissed by Mike Zimmer, who gave zero consideration to starting him over Mannion against the Packers. He’s continued to show struggles in practice.

“Mond continues to hold the ball far too long as he surveys the field for receivers. My charting had four sacks on Mond, although he was allowed to keep plays alive after he would have been taken down, and he dropped another snap from under center,” SKOR North’s Judd Zulgad noted from an August 10 practice where Cousins first exited with an eventual case of COVID-19. “That has been a consistent problem for the 2021 third-round pick in this camp.”

The Vikings have considered the idea that their backup quarterback for the regular season may not be rostered. Sunday’s preseason opener should give them a clear picture of whether Mond or Mannion are suitable or if they should take the next step to improve the backup quarterback position.

“No matter who starts, they’ll both play a ton,” head coach Kevin O’Connell said in an August 12 press conference.


Free-Agent QBs Available

Most NFL teams roster four quarterbacks throughout the preseason as a means of helping facilitate practice and add competition.

Minnesota released 2020 seventh-round pick Nate Stanley before training camp started, leaving Mond, Mannion and Cousins as the only quarterbacks on the depth chart.

The furthest the Vikings have gone to adding another quarterback was bringing veteran journeyman Kevin Hogan in for a workout on August 4. No moves have been made since, likely to give Mond and Mannion as many reps as possible to learn the new system.

That learning curve will be put to the test on Sunday against the Raiders. If neither Mond nor Mannion prove their worth, Minnesota should consider taking a look at the free-agent quarterback market, which includes Blake Bortles, Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, A.J. McCarron and Garrett Gilbert.

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