The Minnesota Vikings need capable arms to keep practices afloat while three quarterbacks are undergoing COVID-19 protocols.
After working out a trio of quarterbacks and signing Case Cookus on Monday, the Vikings added quarterback Danny Etling off waivers. Etling was waived by the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday — a move that made room on Seattle’s 90-man roster for Sean Mannion, Minnesota’s backup quarterback last year.
Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley are all missing from practice this week after Mond tested positive for COVID-19, sending the trio to the COVID-19 reserve list.
Jake Browning and Cookus practiced with the team on Monday, while Etling arrived at Vikings training camp on Wednesday.
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Etling, 27, was a seventh-round pick in the 2018 by the New England Patriots after a prolific career at LSU. He threw for nearly 4,600 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions combined in his junior and senior years.
He set a single-season interception ratio record, throwing just two picks on 275 pass attempts his senior year. Etling was teammates with Justin Jefferson in 2017 before he entered the NFL Draft.
Etling was a member of the practice squad when the Patriots won a Super Bowl in 2018, later transitioning to wide receiver before he was cut and picked up by the Atlanta Falcons. He didn’t play a single snap for the Falcons and spent the 2020 season on the Seahawks practice squad.
His athleticism makes him an intriguing option to try elsewhere in practice even after the trio of missing quarterbacks return. He is notorious in the Patriots fan base for this 86-yard touchdown run during the 2018 preseason.
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This week, Jake Browning has been the No. 1 quarterback, while Cousins, Mond and Nate Stanley are all in COVID-19 protocol. Mond, who is unvaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, while Cousins and Stanley, both unvaccinated, were deemed “high-risk” close contacts. The Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer initially misreported Mond’s vaccination status, which has stirred controversy within the fan base and among players.
Mond is required to quarantine for 14 days from the time of his first positive test. Meanwhile, Cousins is expected to return to practice on Thursday, coach Mike Zimmer said in a press conference on Wednesday. Stanley is also expected to return to practice as the quarterback corps are near replenished.
Cookus and Etling are likely at the bottom of the quarterbacks depth chart once the quarterback room is back to full strength. However, given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Minnesota may want to keep more capable arms around — especially if any quarterbacks remain unvaccinated.
The Vikings currently have the lowest vaccination rate of any team in the NFL at 64.5%, per the Washington Post. The Washington Post reported that 90% of NFL players are at least partially vaccinated.