Minnesota quarterback excited for home debut
MINNEAPOLIS — The last time the Vikings played at U.S. Bank Stadium, the “Minnesota Miracle” unfolded. Kirk Cousins was glued to the television at the home of his in-laws in Atlanta and scarcely could believe what he saw.
“I was watching and was blown away,” he said. “The look on my face was probably similar (in disbelief to defensive end) Everson Griffen’s or some guys on the field.”
The Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints 29-24 in the NFC playoffs last January on Case Keenum’s 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs on the final play of the game.
Little did Cousins know at the time that he eventually would replace Keenum as Minnesota’s starting quarterback.
Cousins, then an impending free agent after six seasons with Washington, didn’t start regarding the Vikings as his most likely destination until he was in the Twin Cities leading up to Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in February.
On Saturday, Aug. 18, Cousins will take the field in the first Vikings home game since the “Minnesota Miracle.”
It might only be a preseason affair against Jacksonville, but Cousins is excited to sample the atmosphere. He wondered Thursday if momentum from that epic win will carry over at home games throughout the season.
“It should galvanize our fan base to be excited for this season and hopefully create many more moments similar to that in the year and the years ahead,” Cousins said before the second of two joint practice sessions against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TCO Performance Center.
Cousins did not play at U.S. Bank Stadium during its first two seasons of 2016 and 2017. He received a tour of the stadium when he came on a free-agent tour in March and signed a three-year, $84 million contract.
Now, he gets to make his long-awaited debut at the venue.
“I’m just so excited to hear the crowd and go through warm-ups and just get a feel for the game-day dynamic,” Cousins said. “I’m sure it’s going to be second to none in the NFL.”
Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell expects Cousins to receive quite a greeting.
“Everybody’s going to be anticipating his debut,” Treadwell said. “I think he’s going to be up for it.”
In his Vikings preseason debut last Saturday at Denver, Cousins looked good in the one series he played. He completed all four of his pass attempts for 42 yards and a touchdown in a 42-28 win.
Cousins will play more against the Jaguars, although it’s not certain how much.
“Last week was such a small sample size, I don’t know that it gave us a great indication of where we are as an offense,” he said. “But, certainly, Saturday will help us along those lines.”
Cousins said it also has been a help having joint practices with the Jaguars.
Cousins was very sharp Wednesday although he wasn’t as good Thursday. His up-and-down day included an ill-advised pass across the middle that was picked off by Jaguars cornerback D.J. Hayden.
Overall, though, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone has been watching Cousins play for much of his NFL career.
“He’s everything that you want,” Marrone said before Thursday’s practice. “He’s a great quarterback. He’s competitive.”
Cousins even has earned the respect of Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who trashed plenty of notable quarterbacks in a recent interview with GQ magazine.
“I think he’s good,” Ramsey told GQ. “I think he’s a winner. He’s a hell of a competitor. Coming off the play action, he’s the best quarterback in the league.”
Ramsey didn’t travel to Minnesota because of a one-week suspension for violating team rules.
Cousins said he didn’t see what Ramsey said “specifically about me,” but did return the favor. He called Ramsey a “great corner” and said it was unfortunate he didn’t “get challenged by him” this week.
About those play actions, Cousins didn’t want to toot his own horn.
“It takes all 11 (players) plus the scheme to really come together and make it work,” he said.
On Saturday, Cousins will have his first chance to show off the play action and other segments of his game to fans at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I think he’s going to enjoy it just as much as the fans enjoy it,” Treadwell said.