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Vikings’ Kirk Cousins insists he ‘can’t afford’ to miss one rep this training camp

Cousins said missing four practices last year didn’t set him back because he was in a fourth straight season with a similar system (but his fourth different offensive coordinator) under head coach Mike Zimmer. He said it would be different if he were to miss time this camp under new coach Kevin O’Connell and new offensive coordinator Wes Phillips.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota, last week.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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EAGAN, Minn. -- A year ago, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was away from the team for five days during training camp while on the COVID-19 reserve list. At least he can joke about it now.

“Honestly, the five days I was home was pretty relaxing,” Cousins said with a laugh Wednesday when asked if this camp is more relaxing after what happened in 2021.

Cousins and fellow quarterbacks Nate Stanley and Kellen Mond went on the COVID list last season on July 31, 2021. Cousins and Stanley, who were deemed close contacts due to not being vaccinated, returned Aug. 5. Mond, who was unvaccinated and tested positive, returned Aug. 10.

Cousins said missing four practices last year didn’t set him back because he was in a fourth straight season with a similar system (but his fourth different offensive coordinator) under head coach Mike Zimmer. He said it would be different if he were to miss time this camp under new coach Kevin O’Connell and new offensive coordinator Wes Phillips.

“This year would be a year where I can’t afford to miss a rep, miss a day, miss a walkthrough, because something comes up in a newer system where I want to have covered it and talked about and get those reps,” said Cousins, who last season also missed a Week 17 game at Green Bay after testing positive. “So practices, and just time in the building is really valuable right now. It’s at a premium.”

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Cousins also talked about playing a lot of tennis helps him stay in shape during the offseason, and that it also helps with his throwing.

“Someone told me that Pete Sampras used to warm up for serving by throwing a football because the motions are so similar,” Cousins said. “I mentioned that to (former quarterback Drew) Brees at (a) Pro Bowl and he said actually a serve is the only throwing motion where the object stays in your hand as opposed to the football leaving your hand, and he said that actually helps strengthen a lot of the muscles in the back of your shoulder.”

Last month, Cousins went to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., where he met tennis stars Andy Murray, John Isner and Steve Johnson.

Shanahan to visit

Two-time Super Bowl champion coach Mike Shanahan plans to come to the TCO Performance Center in Eagan to watch joint practices Aug. 17-18 between the Vikings and San Francisco. Shanahan’s son is 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, but the former coach said there’s another reason he’s excited about the visit.

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Shanahan, who led Denver to Super Bowl wins after the 1997 and 1998 seasons, was Washington’s coach in 2012 when Cousins was selected in the fourth round. He coached Cousins his first two seasons, and remains close to him.

“He’s one of my favorites,” Shanahan said. “I watch all of his games. I’m a big fan of his. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to talk to him when I’m there.”

Shanahan won’t stick around for the Aug. 20 preseason game between the Vikings and 49ers at U.S Bank Stadium. He says he’ll watch the game on television.

Hairston working back

Cornerback Nate Hairston, who began training camp on the active/non-football injury list, was removed from the list Monday and has made progress.

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“Back at full strength,” said Hairston, who has gone through three practices after missing the first four. “Took me a couple of days to get my feet under me, getting back into the stride of things.”

Hairston said he came down with ankle soreness while he was working out and “changing surfaces” before reporting July 26 for training camp.

Briefly

Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu, who has a lower-leg injury, sat out practice again on Wednesday, but he is expected back soon. … Running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, who both missed some practice time Tuesday with minor finger injuries, went through a full practice. … Kicker Greg Joseph got cheers from teammates at the end of practice after he was good on eight straight field goals. The last several were from more than 50 yards, including a 58-yarder. … With receiver Justin Jefferson saying he wants to be the first NFL receiver to have a 2,000-yard season, cornerback Patrick Peterson said, “I don’t doubt it. He might have two 2,000 yards in a season.”

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