EAGAN, Minn. (AP)The Minnesota Vikings have started their second week of training camp with a severe shortage of quarterbacks, with Kirk Cousins and two of his backups sidelined under COVID-19 protocols.
Head coach Mike Zimmer has not made any secret of his frustration with those players who have so far declined to get vaccinated for the disease.
”I just don’t understand. I think we could put this thing to bed if we all do this. But it is what it is,” Zimmer said, after Cousins, Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley were placed on the NFL’s reserve list for COVID-19.
The trio was first held out of practice on Saturday night, with only third-year player Jake Browning remaining on the roster to run the offense. The Vikings also signed quarterback Case Cookus for emergency help on Monday before resuming their work on the field on Monday.
Quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko and offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak have even been solicited for warmup throws to help lighten the load on Browning, who spent his first two seasons on the practice squad. He completed some eye-catching passes under the lights at the team’s practice facility and was playfully doused with water by teammates once the session was over.
Zimmer was visibly frustrated by the sudden absence of Cousins, expressing worry about a similar scenario unfolding during the regular season that would force a vital player without a proven backup to sit out of an important game.
Cousins has declined to answer questions this summer about his vaccination status. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because NFL and NFL Players Association protocols were devised to keep COVID-19 information private, Cousins was deemed a high-risk close contact. His absence was thus a clear indication he has not been vaccinated because league rules for his category mandate a five-day quarantine and negative test before he can return. NFL Network reported that Mond was the player who tested positive.
Zimmer said the Vikings might have to keep one quarterback out of all of their meetings, as some teams around the league did last season.
Wide receiver Myron Mitchell, an undrafted rookie from UAB, was also placed on the COVID-19 reserve list.
The Vikings also placed wide receiver Bisi Johnson on injured reserve, after the third-year player in competition for the No. 3 spot suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his knee last week.
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