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Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins tests positive for COVID

The quarterback will miss Sunday’s preseason opener against the Raiders in Las Vegas.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins looks on during training camp at US Bank Stadium.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has tested positive for COVID and will miss Sunday’s preseason opener against the Raiders in Las Vegas. He is now required, by NFL rule, to isolate for five days.

“He’s feeling pretty darn good with very limited symptoms,” coach Kevin O’Connell said before Friday’s practice at TCO Performance Center in Eagan. “We’re going to let him rest up and get ready to go. He should, by the protocol standards, be back by Tuesday morning ready to roll.”

If that’s indeed the case, meaning Cousins is symptom-free, he should be back on the field when the Vikings play host to the San Francisco 49ers for joint practices next week.

Though there’s a chance Cousins would have sat out Sunday’s preseason opener regardless of his health, his absence provides a clear opportunity for both Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond to stake their claims at the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

Asked which quarterback would start the preseason opener, O’Connell said that decision hasn’t been made.

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“We’re still working through that,” he said. “Those guys have pretty much split the reps all the way through. I’m going to get together with (offensive coordinator) Wes Phillips and the rest of our staff and we’ll figure out a good game plan for those guys. No matter who starts, they’re both going to play a ton.”

As for Cousins, he reported his symptoms ahead of Thursday’s practice, took a rapid test and a few hours later was confirmed to have tested positive via a PCR test.

“We just wanted to make sure,” O’Connell said. “I was really happy with the process of which we went about confirming it and making sure, first and foremost, we were taking care of Kirk and obviously our players and coaches around him.”

This is the second time Cousins will have to miss a game after testing positive for COVID. He couldn’t play in a Week 17 contest against the Green Bay Packers last season, and the Vikings lost 37-10 with Mannion at the helm.

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Cousins also wound up on the COVID list during training camp last summer after being deemed a close contact. He told reporters last week that his stay on the COVID list wasn’t detrimental at the time because he was familiar with the old offense. He added that he “can’t afford to miss a rep” this training camp because he’s still learning the new offense of first-year coach O’Connell.

“The time in the building is really valuable right now,” Cousins said. “It’s at a premium.”

Phillips tried his best to downplay the situation on Friday. As much as he would have loved to have Cousins taking reps in practice the past couple of days, he’s been satisfied with the veteran’s grasp of the playbook throughout training camp.

“We’re happy with the place that Kirk is at with this offense,” Phillips said. “He’s a veteran. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s going to be fine as soon as we can get him back.”

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