Vikings' Kirk Cousins getting to know Brett Jones, who seems to be his new center

EAGAN, Minn. -- Quarterback Kirk Cousins will be working with a new center regardless of who snaps the ball in the Vikings' season opener Sunday, Sept. 9.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in the second quarter against Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Aug. 24, 2018. Brad Rempel / USA TODAY Sports

EAGAN, Minn. - Quarterback Kirk Cousins will be working with a new center regardless of who snaps the ball in the Vikings' season opener Sunday, Sept. 9.

Brian Baldinger, a former NFL offensive lineman who will be the national radio analyst for the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium, reported Tuesday that Danny Isidora will start at center. But Cousins indicated Wednesday that Brett Jones will be the starter, and a source said that is the plan.

Cousins was asked if it will be a challenge taking snaps from a center for the first time in a game. The only center he worked with in three preseason games was Cornelius Edison, who was waived Saturday and placed on the practice squad.

"It's not ideal, but it is what it is," said Cousins, who joined the Vikings in March with a three-year, $84 million contract. "We're not going to dwell on what we can't control. We're going to focus on what we have and making the best out of it, and I'm excited to build a rapport with Jones and the rest of the O-line."

So does that mean Jones will be the center Sunday?

"You have to ask Coach (Mike) Zimmer," Cousins said. "I don't set the roster, but, yeah, he's the center in walkthrough (Wednesday) at 10:20 (a.m.)."

A source said Jones worked with the first team in practice Wednesday, and the plan was for him to start.

Eventually, Minnesota's center is expected to be Pat Elflein, last year's starter. But a source has said Elflein, who returned to practice this week for the first time since last season after recovering from shoulder and ankle injuries, won't play Sunday. The Vikings listed Elflein as "limited" in Wednesday's practice.

Baldinger, a game analyst for Compass Media Networks and an NFL Network analyst, tweeted Tuesday that the "Vikings will start Danny Isidora at center." Isidora was a guard last season as a rookie but played the first half at center in last week's preseason finale. Zimmer, who has declined all week to name his starting center, said Monday that center is Isidora's natural position.

Jones, though, has far more experience. He is in his third NFL season, and last year started 12 games at center for the New York Giants.

"I just come out to practice like any other practice and try to get better each and every day and just keep trying to learn the offense to get familiar with whoever is under center," Jones said.

While Jones wouldn't speculate on whether he will start Sunday, Cousins talked about how the two are learning to work together.

"Just like Brett's not going to drop back and throw the ball for me, I'm not going to make his calls for him. But after the walkthroughs, after the practices, I'm going to say to him I'd like the call to be different there or what were you doing there, and then obviously by Sunday he'll be very comfortable on making those calls," Cousins said.

The Vikings traded a seventh-round draft pick to the Giants to get Jones on Aug. 26, two days after Cousins played in his final preseason game. Cousins completed 17 of 28 passes for 182 yards against the Seahawks to finish the preseason 24 of 40 passing for 236 yards and a touchdown.

Asked what he thought of Cousins' performance in the preseason, Zimmer said, "I've got a lot of confidence in Kirk."

Beginning Sunday, the games will count for real.

"There's going to be some excitement, some nerves, and we just kind of have to work through that in the first quarter and settle in and just play ball like you always have," Cousins said.

The same goes for Cousins' center, whoever that may be.

"We're going to coach him all week and then (Jones is) going to play center in the NFL like he's done for a lot of games already," he said.