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1st-Timers Ready for Initial Taste of Vikings-Packers Rivalry

EAGAN, Minn. — Sunday marks the 116th edition of the Border Battle between the Vikings and Packers.

But for some players who will don the white jerseys in Week 2 at Lambeau Field, they will get their first taste of the historic rivalry between the two longtime division foes.

“I heard it’s going to be a great environment. The fans are going to make it fun,” said Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. “Green Bay is a great team, and this rivalry has been going on since before I was even born, so I’m just happy to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to going to Lambeau Field and making plays.

“This is my first week in it, I missed last year, so I’m here this year,” Cook said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Cook tore his ACL in Week 4 of the 2017 season, just two games before the Vikings were set to host the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Now, the running back is one of 19 players on the Vikings roster who will square off against Green Bay while siding with the Purple.

Some are rookies, while others such as quarterback Kirk Cousins have played Green Bay before — just not while wearing Purple.

Cousins on Wednesday gave his thoughts on being a newcomer to the rivalry.

“I think that we feel it throughout the year as a player for the Minnesota Vikings. In the offseason, you feel it,” Cousins said. “You run into people and you are going to hear a lot more about the rivalry of the Vikings and Packers or you are going to hear about your opponents in the NFC North more than you are going to hear about some team in the AFC that you may play once only every four years.

“I think that is when you start to feel it and it starts to build. You realize how important it is for this organization, for our fans,” Cousins said. “Just the math of needing to win your division to get a home playoff game. I think the math would say we want to win our divisional games.”

Vikings offensive lineman Brett Jones grew up in Canada and was no stranger to the rivalry a few hundred miles to the south.

Jones, who started at center in Minnesota’s Week 1 win against San Francisco, will now be smack in the middle of it all.

“I’ve definitely heard about it,” Jones said. “Any of these NFC North games are big games, especially this one, with how close Green Bay is.

“A divisional game is always a bit different,” Jones added. “But it’s definitely exciting, and I’m sure it will be loud … we have to be ready.”

Others grew up even closer and know all about the passion between the Purple and the Packers.

Offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann, who signed as a free agent on Monday, grew up in Wisconsin near the Minnesota border.

“My parents were Vikings fans, and I grew up around Packers fans, so I was kind of in the middle,” Witzmann said. “It was a weird dynamic. Obviously, I’m all in for the Vikings right now.”

The Vikings kicked off their 58th season in the NFL on Sunday. They have played the Packers more than any other team during that span, going 53-60-2 all-time against Green Bay.

The Vikings are 52-59-2 in the regular season, and the teams have split a pair of postseason games.

Minnesota has had the upper hand of late, winning four of the past five meetings. That includes two wins at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the teams will meet in Week 12. And a pair of victories at Lambeau Field, a historic venue that will add another chapter to its storied history Sunday.

But, as the old saying goes, go ahead and throw records and everything else out the window this weekend.

Anything can happen in a rivalry game.

“First game in the NFC North. I grew up watching the NFC North,” Cousins said. “It’s a great opportunity to join this rivalry and hopefully put my best foot forward and get off to a great start.”

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