EAGAN, Minn. – Kirk Cousins took the practice field Tuesday wearing … No. 66?
The Vikings quarterback traded in his red, no-contact No. 8 practice jersey for a red 66 as a good-natured nod to a teammate.
When Minnesota signed Ryan Wright last season as an undrafted free agent, the punter was given No. 66 – "Not really a swaggy number," as Cousins said – during training camp.
Wright battled it out against Jordan Berry throughout camp and impressed Vikings coaches, winning the role of starting punter.
"Against the odds [as the rookie], he made the team," Cousins said. "I wanted him to stick with the 66 for his whole career, but he went to 14. So then I asked if he could go back to 66 for training camp every year just to humor me."
When Wright didn't don his former number for Monday's practice, Cousins decided to "take the matter into his own hands."
"I said, 'I'm going to wear 66 myself to honor Ryan Wright's humble beginnings.' I think every season he punts in this league, and every year his career extends, I think the 66 will mean even more to him," Cousins said. "He might not realize it yet because he's only in Year 2. But when you're in Year 12 like me, you look back on your rookie year and what you've been through, and it matters."
Wright admitted he was a bit caught off guard when Cousins suited up for practice but found it "hilarious" to see the QB wearing the double-six.
"I love Kirk and have the utmost respect for him," Wright said. "It was pretty funny."
View photos of players during 2023 Vikings Training Camp practice on August 1 at the TCO Performance Center.
This camp, undrafted offensive lineman Alan Ali is wearing the No. 66.
Although No. 66 will always be a part of his story, Wright is grateful to now be wearing a number deeply personal to him.
"I had to earn the right last year to choose 14, which was the number I wore a lot of my life and is my mom's favorite number," Wright explained. "Before my grandpa passed away, he always asked if I was going to wear 14 again. He didn't get to see me in it with the Vikings, so it means even more to me now."
Wright turned in an impressive rookie season, netting 42.3 yards per punt with a long of 73 and only having one touchback. He also threw a key 13-yard pass to Jalen Nailor on a fake punt in Week 4 against New Orleans.
Cousins may not have gotten his wish with the jersey, but he did get some good laughs switching things up for a day – and also created some fun speculation among fans.
And at the end of the day, he's just glad to have Wright on his side – regardless of the number he's wearing.
"It just matters that Ryan keeps hitting bombs and occasionally executes a fake that bails me out," Cousins said with a smile.