The Minnesota Vikings announced Friday that quarterback Kirk Cousins will miss the team’s preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders this weekend.
Cousins tested positive for COVID.
The Vikings were without Cousins — for the same reason — reason in Week 17 of the 2021 regular season. In his stead, Sean Mannion filled in while Minnesota was shellacked by the Green Bay Packers 37-10. Cousins took heat for the absence as former head coach Mike Zimmer repeatedly tried to preach the efficacy of vaccines to his players. Still, Cousins and others declined.
Thankfully for the Vikings sake, the preseason game means absolutely nothing for the 2022 regular season and playoffs. Oddly, it may be “good” that Cousins gets his second bout with the virus “out of the way” before the meaningful games.
A combo platter of Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion will play quarterback against the Raiders, and Cousins may not have played at all in the first place. New head coach Kevin O’Connell’s former employer, the Los Angeles Rams, rested starters for all of the 2021 preseason. Did it work? Why, yes, it did — the Rams won a Super Bowl.
Mond, a 3rd-Rounder from the 2021 NFL Draft, has much to gain this preseason, trying to secure the franchise’s QB2 job over Mannion. Minnesota drafted the Texas A&M alumnus as a potential quarterback of the future in case the Cousins experiment fell flat. But in his rookie season, Mond notoriously inhabited the aforementioned Zimmer’s doghouse. The new coaching regime, though, has insisted on granting Mond a fair shake at QB2.
Meanwhile, other jobs are up for grabs on the Vikings roster. Center Garrett Bradbury must hold off free-agent addition Chris Reed for the starting job. Some twosome between Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, and Andrew Booth will emerge as starting outside cornerbacks. Lewis Cine and Camryn Bynum are dueling for the FS gig. And the right guard spot — an ongoing headache for the Vikings — is sought by Jesse Davis and rookie Ed Ingram.
The contest also marks the first semi-real head coaching experience for O’Connell. He’s the NFL’s second-youngest coach — behind Sean McVay, his old boss — and will cut his teeth during the preseason tryst with Las Vegas.
Cousins wasn’t slated to play much, if at all, against the Raiders, so Las Vegas is favored by 2.5 points over Minnesota.
Mond and Mannion are expected to split QB snaps to the tune of 50-50.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).