Cousins returns from COVID-19 absence to Vikings for finale

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  • Minnesota Vikings
    Minnesota Vikings
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  • Kirk Cousins
    Kirk Cousins
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With Kirk Cousins cleared from COVID-19 protocols, the Minnesota Vikings plan to play their starting quarterback in the meaningless final game against Chicago along with the rest of their regulars who are healthy enough for action.

Cousins was activated Wednesday from COVID-19 reserve, ending his five-day stay on the list that kept him out of the 37-10 loss at Green Bay that eliminated the Vikings from postseason contention.

“It’s a unique time we’re in. Just had my call sheet out in front of me watching the game and still trying to stay as engaged as I could,” Cousins said.

He said he had mild symptoms from the virus, which prompted the first unplanned absence of his career. The only other game Cousins missed was the last game of the 2019 season, as injury precaution with the Vikings already locked into their seed for the playoffs that year. That’s the only time in four seasons with the Vikings that Cousins has been to the playoffs.

“Certainly disappointed whenever you’re not playing the playoffs, but really my focus is on the Bears right now and I don’t think a lot about the big picture. There’s plenty of time to do that in the offseason,” Cousins said.

Cousins is unvaccinated, which made him more susceptible to infection. He also remained subject to NFL-required daily testing.

Experiencing symptoms when he did likely would have meant him missing the Packers game regardless of vaccination status, but a return in two days for a vaccinated player would have been possible under the league protocols, at least.

“It’s the world we’re living in. I would guess most teams have had to deal with it in some way, shape or form, even in the last two years, not just this year. I’m proud of the way our organization has fought through it and adapted as needed,” Cousins said.

The Vikings were on track to have all of their COVID-19 reserve players cleared in time for the final game on Sunday afternoon, coach Mike Zimmer said.

With just two wins in playoff games in eight seasons in Minnesota and now the first back-to-back years without making it at all, Zimmer might well be coaching his last game, though team ownership has been consistently quiet on the subject.

With the possibility of new leadership on not only the coaching staff but in the front office, the future of every player on the roster takes on at least some additional level of uncertainty. That includes the 33-year-old Cousins, who has one year remaining on his contract that comes with a hefty $45 million salary cap hit.

For all the production he has given the Vikings as a passer, hitting the 30-touchdown mark for the third time in four seasons and in 2021 matching his career low with only nine turnovers in 15 games, Cousins is just 33-30-1 including the playoffs as the starter for Minnesota. He was clearly missed against the Packers, but his presence alone in several close games the Vikings lost this season wasn't enough to elevate them to victory, even if they had far greater problems.

“I’m just focused on the Bears on Sunday. I’ve got a full day today, full day the next few days to get ready for them,” Cousins said. "Certainly want to be a Minnesota Viking for the rest of my career.”

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Dave Campbell, The Associated Press

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