The Vikings were without quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley at Saturday’s night practice due to COVID-19 protocols, leaving Jake Browning as the only quarterback available.
Sources confirmed that Mond tested positive for COVID-19 while Cousins, the starter, and Stanley were designated as high-risk close contacts.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer would not comment on the three quarterbacks who were out but said Browning is vaccinated. Being dubbed high-risk contacts would mean Cousins and Stanley are not vaccinated and would be out at least five days. Cousins was asked about his vaccination status in June and said, “I choose to keep my medical history private.”
Mond’s vaccination status is uncertain since an individual could test positive while still having been vaccinated.
The Vikings put out a statement before practice before fans saying, “Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, multiple players will be held out of tonight’s practice inside TCO Stadium.”
Zimmer spoke to the media before the practice, and he was not happy about the developments.
“It’s why people should get vaccinated,’’ Zimmer said. “(If) something like this happens a day before a game that has a chance to get you to the playoffs or something like that, (it could hamper a team). This Delta variant is rough. You can see the cases going up every single day now. That’s why, for the sake of everybody’s health, I think it’s important. But some people don’t understand, I guess.
“I am disappointed that this happened. I’m frustrated, not just with my football players who didn’t get vaccinated, but I’m frustrated with everybody (who didn’t).”
Zimmer was asked if this perhaps could be a wake-up call on the team for those not vaccinated.
“How do you know?’’ he said. “Some guys are pretty staunch.”
In June, four Vikings players besides Cousins were asked if they had been vaccinated. Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith and Sheldon Richardson said they had not been, and Eric Kendricks said he had been.
Browning, Mond and Stanley entered training camp, which began Wednesday, battling for the backup job behind Cousins. Browning being vaccinated and not missing any time in camp so far perhaps could help his chances.
“Jake’s really smart,’’ Zimmer said. “He’s vaccinated. That helps to be the backup. So as we move forward here, he’s going to get a ton of reps (starting Saturday night). I don’t know about saying ‘it’s going to go a long way’ because we’ve still a lot of camp to go. But we’ll see. He’s out there, he’s available, that’s important. It’s important to be available when you’re playing football, a team sport.”
Zimmer said players not able to practice due to COVID-19 protocols would “have to go virtual until they’re admitted back in the building.” Asked if players missing the Saturday practice might also miss time in practice starting Monday, when the Vikings don pads for the first time, Zimmer said, “Just whatever the league tells us. I don’t know.’’
The Vikings might look to sign another quarterback. Free agent Sean Mannion, their backup the past two years, is not an option since he agreed Saturday to sign with Seattle.
Vikings honor Stringer
The Vikings on Saturday night honored tackle Korey Stringer, who died of complications from heatstroke at a practice at training camp in Mankato on Aug. 1, 2001, 20 years ago Sunday. They showed a video of Stringer, had a moment of silence, and his No. 77 has been written on a practice field at the TCO Performance Center.
“I know he was a really good player,” Zimmer said. “I didn’t know him or know of him very much. … What everybody told me, he was a great guy. Just unfortunate.”
The Vikings announced they have joined with the NFL Foundation and the Korey Stringer Institute to create the Korey and Kelci Stringer Athletic Training Scholarship with an initial $50,000 endowment that will help students in partnership with the National Athletic Training Association. Kelci was Stringer’s wife.