Sep 13, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Hospital cuts ties with Vikings’ Kirk Cousins over QB’s vaccine stance

Kirk Cousins has been cut — but not by the Minnesota Vikings.

The Holland Hospital, which has used Cousins to promote its sports medicine program for the past several years, cut ties with the quarterback on Friday over his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine. Cousins went to high school in Holland, Mich., where the hospital is located.

Cousins declined to say at a news conference Thursday whether he is vaccinated, calling it a “very private health decision.”

“While we acknowledge that each person is entitled to their own viewpoints, those who speak on our behalf must support messages that align with the hospital’s position on matters of vital importance to individual and community health. For this reason, Holland Hospital will discontinue using Kirk Cousins as our spokesperson for now,” the hospital said in a statement.

“We are proud of our association with Kirk. He embodies many values we respect and share as part of our work culture. However, we must be certain that our communications about COVID vaccination are consistent and unequivocal.”

Cousins, who turns 33 this month, was placed in the Vikings’ COVID-19 protocols when he was named a close contact of a rookie quarterback Kellen Mond, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. Cousins said he was “at peace” with his choice.

Last year, Cousins said he was taking a “survival of the fittest” approach to the pandemic, and on Thursday, he said he would do “whatever it takes” to stay safe amid the resurgent virus.

“I do believe that as a leader of the team it’s very important I follow the protocols and avoid a close contact,” he said. “That’s what it’s going to come down to.”

The NFL has pushed to get players and staff vaccinated ahead of the 2021 season, which begins Sept. 9. The league has said that any team that vaccinates 85 percent of its players and staff can relax its safety protocols and can apply less stringent rules to vaccinated players.

The NFL announced last month that if a regular-season game cannot be rescheduled and is canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, that team will have to forfeit and will be credited with a loss.

–Field Level Media

Jun 15, 2021; in Eagen, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) talk during drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins will return to practice Thursday

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins will return to practice Thursday after a five-day absence due to COVID-19.

Cousins and backup quarterback Nate Stanley were deemed high-risk close contacts to rookie QB Kellen Mond, who tested positive for the virus. Stanley is also due back Thursday after isolating.

Jake Browning has been the team’s No. 1 quarterback this week.

Head coach Mike Zimmer shrugged when asked about the status of Mond, though he’ll have to miss a minimum of 10 days.

Zimmer also said he won’t be discussing vaccinations anymore after expressing his dismay with his team’s 64.5 percent vax rate, reportedly the lowest in the NFL.

“We could put this thing to bed if we’d all do this, but it is what it is,” Zimmer said Monday.

–Field Level Media

Jun 9, 2021; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond (11), quarterback Kirk Cousins (8), and quarterback Jake Browning (3) talk during drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, two other QBs on COVID-19 list

The Minnesota Vikings placed quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Third-year player Jake Browning, who is fully vaccinated, is the lone Vikings quarterback available to practice. Browning has no NFL experience and was signed to a reserve/future contract in January.

Coach Mike Zimmer was none-too-pleased with those who have elected against getting vaccinated when addressing reporters on Monday.

“We could put this thing to bed if we’d all do this, but it is what it is,” Zimmer said.

Cousins has declined to answer questions about his vaccination status.

NFL Network reported Monday that the Vikings plan to sign quarterback Case Cookus.

–Field Level Media

May 26, 2021; Eagan, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and quarterback Kellen Mond (11) participate in drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings QB Kellen Mond tests positive, Kirk Cousins close contact

Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Kellen Mond tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, NFL Network reported, as three of the team’s QBs were out for Saturday’s practice, including starter Kirk Cousins.

Fellow quarterback Nate Stanley also was out of Saturday’s practice, with NFL Network adding that Cousins is a “high-risk close contact.”

The Vikings did release a statement on the situation but did not name specific players.

“Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, multiple players will be held out of tonight’s practice inside TCO Stadium,” the team said in its statement. “We will share further updates as they become available in the coming days.”

According to NFL rules related to COVID-19, any players or staff who have been vaccinated are not considered high-risk close contact.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer expressed frustration over the team’s predicament.

“That’s why people should get vaccinated,” Zimmer said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Quarterback Jake Browing, who has no NFL experience and was signed to a reserve/future contract in January, was expected to handle all of the reps in practice Saturday. Browning is vaccinated.

“It’s important to be available when you’re playing football in a team sport,” Zimmer said in regard to Browning. “… He’s vaccinated. That helps to be the backup.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings GM: ‘Kirk Cousins is our quarterback’

Rick Spielman has not been living in a vacuum.

With the early NFL offseason buzz all about quarterbacks either changing teams or wanting a new home address, the Minnesota Vikings general manager insisted Wednesday that his franchise would not be one to hunt for a new signal-caller in 2021.

“Kirk Cousins is our quarterback,” Spielman said bluntly on a video call with reporters. “I know there’s a lot of rumors floating around out there, but Kirk Cousins is our quarterback. We felt that he played very well, probably the best that he’s ever played down that stretch last year.”

Cousins, 32, just finished his third season with the Vikings after signing a two-year, $66 million free-agent deal in 2019 after six seasons with Washington. He led Minnesota to the playoffs in his second season, going 10-5 as a starter while throwing for 3,603 yards with 26 touchdown passes and just six interceptions.

Cousins put up arguably better numbers in 2020, with 4,265 passing yards, a career-high 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. But the Vikings went just 7-9 in their first losing season since 2014.

Despite the Vikings sporting the NFL’s fourth-rated offense last season, their highest NFL ranking since 2004, Cousins has endured plenty of criticism by those who believe he has not lived up to franchise quarterback money in Minnesota.

“Kirk is our quarterback going forward, and I look forward to him with another year in this system,” Spielman said. “I’m excited for him and what he’s going to bring to our team next year.”

Cousins carries a $31 million salary-cap figure next season, and his $35 million salary for 2022 will be fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster on March 19. That would increase his cap hit to the Vikings to $45 million in 2022.

–Field Level Media

Nov 3, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of a Minnesota Vikings helmet during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings announce promotion of Klint Kubiak to OC

The Minnesota Vikings announced the promotion of quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak to offensive coordinator on Tuesday.

He officially replaces his father, Super Bowl-winning coach Gary Kubiak, who retired last month.

“I’m happy to keep consistency of the scheme and the staff on the offensive side of the ball for 2021. I believe in the system and the coaches we have,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said in a statement. “Klint will do a great job leading them and continuing to put our players in position to maximize their skills.”

The younger Kubiak, who will turn 34 next week, spent the past two seasons as the club’s quarterbacks coach. He was with Denver as offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach from 2015-17. The Broncos, coached by Gary Kubiak, won Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

Klint Kubiak played defensive back at Colorado State. He started his NFL coaching career in Minnesota under Zimmer in 2013 as quality control/assistant wide receivers coach.

He is credited with helping quarterback Kirk Cousins achieve his two best seasons in terms of passer rating: 107.4 in 2019 and 105.0 in 2020. In that span, Cousins threw 61 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

“I am thrilled for Klint to get the opportunity to be our offensive coordinator,” Cousins said in a statement. “Having the chance to work with him on a day-to-day to basis the last two seasons has helped me grow both as a player and a person.

“His sharp mind and even-keel demeanor will serve him well as a play-caller. We will all benefit from the continuity Klint provides, and I’m looking forward to working with him in this new role.”

Also on Tuesday, the Vikings promoted Andrew Janocko from wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach. Former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell will hold the same position in Minnesota.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mike Glennon (2) throws a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings’ rally sends Jaguars to 11th straight loss

Dan Bailey kicked a game-winning, 23-yard field goal with 1:53 remaining in overtime and Kirk Cousins passed for 305 yards and three touchdowns as the host Minnesota Vikings defeated the reeling Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-24, on Sunday for their fifth win in six games.

Jaguars quarterback Mike Glennon threw two interceptions, fumbled and was sacked in the end zone for a safety in Jacksonville’s franchise-record 11th straight loss. Vikings safety Harrison Smith snagged Glennon’s second interception inside Jaguars territory to set up Bailey’s game-winning kick.

Justin Jefferson had nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings, who outgained the Jaguars 420-390. Dalvin Cook overcame a slow start to finish with 32 carries for 120yards.

Minnesota (6-6) remained in the NFC playoff hunt by regrouping after the Jaguars took a 16-6 lead early in the third quarter, their largest advantage of the season. The Vikings scored 18 consecutive points to take a 24-16 lead with 3:55 to go, but the Jaguars (1-11) rallied to tie the game with 1:08 to go on James Robinson’s 1-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion pass from Glennon to Collin Johnson.

Moments after Bailey missed a 51-yard field goal that would have put Minnesota ahead with 13 seconds to go, Jaguars placekicker Chase McLaughlin, who was on the Vikings’ practice squad this season, was short on a 62-yard field goal attempt as time expired, sending the game to overtime.

Cousins was 28-of-43 passing for 305 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a lost fumble. Glennon was 28-of-42 passing for 280 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while Robinson had 18 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Jacksonville added quickly to its three-point halftime lead, as linebacker Joe Schobert snagged a Cousins screen pass and raced 43 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown with 14:50 remaining in the third quarter. It marked the second successive week the Vikings have allowed a defensive touchdown on the first play of the second half.

–Field Level Media

Aug 14, 2020; Eagan, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) at training camp at TCO Performance Center.  Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings QB Cousins on virus risk: ‘If I die, I die’

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was trending on social media Wednesday after telling a podcast he is not afraid of the coronavirus.

“If I did, I die,” Cousins said during an interview with Spotify’s “10 Questions With Kyle Brandt.”

Cousins told Brandt he doesn’t believe face masks help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but wears them out of respect for other people’s concerns about potential health and safety risks.

Brandt asked Cousins to rate his level of concern about the virus on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being “masks are stupid, you’re all a bunch of lemmings” and 10 being “I’m not leaving my master bathroom for the next 10 years.”

“I’m not gonna call anybody stupid, for the trouble it would get me in, but I’m about a .000001,” Cousins replied.

“… I’m gonna go about my daily life,” Cousins continued. “If I get it, I’m gonna ride it out. I’m gonna let nature do its course. Survival-of-the-fittest kind of approach. And just say, if it knocks me out, it knocks me out. I’m going to be OK. You know, even if I die. If I die, I die. I kind of have peace about that.”

The NFL and NFL Players Association announced Tuesday that four players and six team staff members tested positive for the coronavirus during the latest testing period from Aug. 21-29.

A total of 8,739 players and club personnel were tested 58,621 times during that period.

Cousins, 32, is a two-time Pro Bowl selection entering his ninth season in the NFL and his third in Minnesota.

He went 10-5 as a starter in 2019, completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,603 yards with 26 touchdowns and six interceptions.

–Field Level Media