Vikings Training Camp officially kicks off today at TCO Performance center and quarterback Kirk Cousins isn't blind to the added pressure laid down after a disappointing 2018 campaign.
Starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations and finishing 8-7-1 was not anybody's plan, but it paved the way for some changes to be made in the organization and mostly on the offensive side of the ball. Changes that according to Cousins will lay the foundation going forward for this team.
"I’m taking notes like it’s my first time learning it, because that’s just the way you go about your business," Cousins explained earlier this week. "Hopefully you lay a good foundation, and then hopefully it shows on Sundays in the fall, but the nature of this next month and a half is that whether it’s really good or really bad, it’s not what the narrative becomes on you. You have to translate that into a really good season."
Cousins met the media earlier this week, you can see his full session in the player below and the transcript is also included thanks to Vikings PR.
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins
It was a great summer break, great time with family. Connected with a couple of teammates, but otherwise now we’re back to work and we’re going to be grinding from now until hopefully February. It’s good to be here and just have this time right now, a little more of a walk thru emphasis, slower tempo, get back into football mode. Just building a rapport with teammates and kind of laying the initial foundation for this 2019 season. So here we go, no looking back and full speed again
Q: Garrett Bradbury was saying that it’s very important for him to have you here, to continue what you started in OTAs. How important is that relationship, to be here early for him?
A: It’s great. We just had a protection walk thru for about 20 minutes that I thought was very productive, and we covered things that we hadn’t covered before. I think that in and of itself is worth being here. We’ll get basically three days of that, and hopefully come out the other side with just even more of a foundation from which we can work. The vets get here, the defense gets here, we’ll start going full speed and we’ll be glad we had this time on task right now to be able to play at a high level when it’s full go.
Q: What’s your focus when you are here early? Are you more in a teaching mode with some of these guys?
A: I’m always in a learning mode. I don’t know that it’s a teaching mode. I think I’m going to communicate, try to encourage a guy when I feel like he’s doing something right and coach him when I feel like he’s doing something wrong. But we have so many coaches, we’ve got a lot of voices out there telling these guys what to do. If anything, I just want to be an encourager and affirm them when they’re doing things the right way and ask questions, too. A lot of times I can learn from even these younger guys as to what they’re seeing or what their issue is. It’s good to get to know these guys. Unfortunately with the way the NFL works, you bring in so many players and you only keep 53, but many of them, even if they’re released, they could be back on the practice squad, could be back mid-season when you have injuries and there’s some attrition. Building a rapport with even these younger players who have only been here for a short amount of time, it can come back to help you later in the year when things inevitably change.
Q: What is it like having so many coaches? How do you kind of figure out who to listen to?
A: Well you listen to all of them, right? And they’re all on the same pace. They have staff meetings, and it’s one voice. I’m not concerned about it being multiple messages. I have an abundance of resources when it comes to picking Coach Zimmer’s brain during the walk thru or talking to Kevin [Stefanski], talking to Klint [Kubiak], Gary [Kubiak]. As a quarterback you really want to be very connected with the offensive line coach, and so Coach [Rick] Dennison and A.J. [Andrew Janocko], there’s no end. And Coach [Drew] Petzing as the receivers coach, you’re always trying to understand, “Hey, what are you telling these guys?”, and, “What are they hearing from you?” We got a lot of staff, and that’s a good thing. It’s great to have that much support and that many good football minds contributing to our plan.
Q: Has Garrett Bradbury picked up protection calls and the playbook faster than you’d expect from a rookie?
A: He’s very mature. Just talking to him in the locker room, I just feel like I’m not talking to someone who’s right out of college. I feel like I’m talking to someone who’s about my age, and I think that makes it a little easier, to just be on the same page and work together. I think that inevitably you go against a guy like Aaron Donald, and its like, “You know, I wasn’t blocking a lot of these guys in the ACC.” Occasionally, but not a lot. So there’s always those wake-up call moments in your rookie year. I’m excited for the player he can be, and I know the coaches are. I think he’s picked up things pretty quickly for how much we’ve thrown at him and he’s handled it with a calm and a coolness about him that is also great to see. So that’s been real positive.
Q: Is there anything special you can do with Irv Smith Jr. or any of the rookie receivers to figure out what their strengths are as pass catchers?
A: Yes. Many of them were brought in undrafted because they have a specific trait that they can bring to the table. We want to understand what that is and extenuate it. If a can roll, if he’s a 4.3 [40 yard dash] guy, and maybe there’s some limitations in some other parts of playing the receiver position, but he’s a 4.3 guy, well let’s get him in our deep routes and let’s get him a chance to get behind some safeties and launch. So learning those players’ strengths and then working them in the progression when you know, “Hey, this play gives them a chance to put a show on.” And then also understanding that this route isn’t his sweet spot, so let’s talk about working elsewhere. That’s why understanding personnel is really important, and that’s certainly a point of emphasis, especially with these younger players who many of which have a specific trait as to why they’re here, and we’re trying to see if that trait can really help us.
Q: Are you approaching this season any differently?
A: Am I approaching it differently in any way? I’m sure there’s some differences, being that every year you pick something up new. I think what will never change is getting up in the morning, being attentive, taking notes, even plays like drive scissors, that I’ve installed for now eight years. When drive scissors gets up on the board, I’m taking notes like it’s my first time learning it, because that’s just the way you go about your business. That’ll always be the same. I’m sure with it being my second year here and my eighth year in the league, you just continue to evolve as a player and ask different questions and have more authority or assert yourself more. But probably more similar then different, and ultimately I and we are going to be evaluated on things far from training camp. It’s going to come down to those 16 regular season games and then beyond that. Unfortunately you grind in training camp, and then you get to Labor Day weekend and you look around and you’re like, “All that work, and I got nothing to show for it yet.” Hopefully you lay a good foundation, and then hopefully it shows on Sundays in the fall, but the nature of this next month and a half is that whether it’s really good or really bad, it’s not what the narrative becomes on you. You have to translate that into a really good season.
Q: How much time off where you able to take this past month?
A: It’s a mixed bag. It’s a balance. I’ve learned that for me, because it is, like I said, six weeks here where you’re really in it from the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed, and then you finish that and you say, “Oh wait a minute, we still have a whole season to play.” I like to pace myself in the summer. Even my training, I try to get a little creative and do some other things, like playing tennis. Just things where I can still get a sweat and work on agility, but also not constantly doing the same drops and the same footwork over and over and over. But there’s still a big component of that, and I had those youth football camps that I do, and some time with family. A little bit of travel, it was my five year anniversary so my wife made sure that we got away up to northern Michigan for that. So you got a variety of things that you do, and just try to enjoy it all and then hit the ground running when you get back here.
Q: Did you throw to any Vikings receivers over the break?
A: You know, I just wanted to make it simple for the guys, so Chad Beebe and Tyler Conklin were kind of in the area. Laquon Treadwell as well, they’re all kind of within a two to three hour drive of where I am, so I said why don’t you guys come up, we’ll through a little bit, connect. But I wasn’t going to ask anybody to get on a plane and come fly there, just because the summer weeks are so precious and guys want to be with their families. If I did say, “Hey, come here,” they would be there, but I want them to be able to enjoy that time with their families. We have a lot of time here to get together, so just because they were a short drive I thought it was worth it maybe.