Vikings’ Mike Zimmer Makes Final Decision on Starting QB vs. Bears

Mike Zimmer

Getty Vikings coach Mike Zimmer named Kirk Cousins the starting quarterback in the Vikings' season finale vs. the Chicago Bears.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins returned to TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minn., after a six-day stint on the team’s COVID-19 reserve list.

The Vikings dropped an embarrassing 37-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers without Cousins on Sunday, which eliminated the team from playoff contention.

Entering a meaningless season finale with the Chicago Bears, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer revealed his intentions in what could potentially be his final game in Minnesota.

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Zimmer Says Starters Will Play, Including Cousins

In a press conference on January 5, Zimmer revealed that Cousins was back in the team’s training facility and that he would start Sunday at home against the Bears.

“Mike Zimmer said Kirk Cousins will start vs. Chicago in Week 18,” ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported. “Zimmer said ‘yes’ on Monday when asked whether starters will play if they’re able to (i.e. healthy, not on COVID list, etc) against the Bears in spite of the Vikings being out of playoff contention.”

After five players landed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Monday — safety Camryn Bynum, guard Ezra Cleveland, left tackle Christian Darrisaw, linebacker Eric Kendricks and right tackle Brian O’Neill — Zimmer said he expects all five to return in time and play on Sunday, per the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson. O’Neill was activated to the 53-man roster on Wednesday after just 48 hours on the list.

When asked whether any rookies would see a boost in playing time, Zimmer said there are no plans to play the Vikings’ younger players as it appears the Vikings coach intends to treat Week 18 like every other game this season.

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Cousins Addresses Missing Packers Game

Cousins, addressing the media for the first time since he was ruled out against the Packers, spoke about his experience with COVID-19 symptoms, saying he wouldn’t have been able to have played if he were vaccinated.

“In my instance, it wouldn’t have mattered just because I had mild symptoms. They don’t want you playing the game with COVID. I would have tested positive regardless, so in my case, it didn’t make a big difference,” Cousins said.

Cousins said that he watched the game on TV, like his teammates like Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith and Dalvin Cook had to do when they tested positive.

“I just had mild symptoms, watched on TV as we’ve all had to do, those who tested positive. It’s a unique time we’re in,” Cousins said.

While Cousins was heavily scrutinized in the preseason after landing on the COVID-19 list due to exposure to Kellen Mond, who was unvaccinated and tested positive for coronavirus on July 31, he is content with how the Vikings handled the challenges this season surrounding the virus and the league’s protocols.

“It’s the world we live in,” Cousins said. “I’m proud of the way our organization has fought through it and adapted as needed.”

In August, The Washington Post reported that the Vikings were the least-vaccinated team entering the season. Minnesota had 30 players land on the list over the past two months, The Athletic’s Chad Graff referenced when asking Cousins about the team’s handling of protocols.

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