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2023 Vikings Training Camp Preview: Quarterbacks

EAGAN, Minn. — Players are less than two weeks away from reporting for 2023 Vikings Training Camp presented by Omni Viking Lakes Hotel.

The first public practice is scheduled for Saturday, July 29, as part of Back Together Weekend, which is presented by The Salvation Army.

In preparation for the return of football, we'll go through a position-by-position preview of the Vikings, starting with quarterbacks.

Roster refresher

Returning starter: Kirk Cousins

Also on the roster: (listed alphabetically by last name): Jaren Hall and Nick Mullens

2022 recap: Cousins started all 17 regular-season games as well as Minnesota's playoff game, throwing for 4,547 yards and 29 touchdowns to help the Vikings go 13-4 during the season. Although his passer rating dipped from a three-year average of 105.0 to 92.5, he frequently came through in the clutch with an NFL record-tying eight fourth-quarter comebacks. Mullens appeared in four games, totaling 224 yards and a touchdown on 21-of-25 passing.

3 Key Questions for Vikings Quarterbacks

1. In what ways will the continuity around Cousins show up?

This season will be the first time Cousins will have the same play caller (Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell) and offensive coordinator (Wes Phillips) as the previous season during his time with Minnesota in 2018.

The trio — and the returning players on offense — should be much more fluent with the terminology and verbiage of play calls, as well as the rules that govern the need to "can" the original play call and adjust to an audible.

Cousins readily admitted in the new Netflix Quarterback series how the first year in the system had him feeling like a rookie again.

Yet, he excelled in crucial moments, helped Justin Jefferson increase his production for a third year in a row and quickly connected with T.J. Hockenson after a midseason trade for the talented tight end. Cousins has enjoyed consistent success when targeting K.J. Osborn in each of the past two seasons.

The familiarity with all of the above should help as Minnesota moves past the departures of Pro Bowl veterans Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook.

Although Cousins will be working without one of his best security blankets (Thielen) and a highly skilled running back who has turned screens into scores, he's working behind the same starting offensive line as last season.

2. How much will the Vikings lean on Cousins — and will they allow fewer sacks this season?

The hiring of O'Connell brought about a pass-first approach that flipped from most of the seasons under former Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

That's likely to continue, but will the Vikings be able to reduce the number of sacks and hits on the quarterback while keeping a high volume of pass attempts?

Cousins attempted more passes (643) and took more sacks (46) than he ever has in a season. also counted 84 hits on the quarterback — an average of 4.9 per game.

3. How will the Vikings approach the backup position?

Cousins is the undisputed starter yet again.

This time a year ago, the Vikings were backing him up with veteran Sean Mannion and 2021 third-round pick Kellen Mond.

Now, they'll evaluate Mullens, whom they traded for after facing in the 2022 preseason opener at Las Vegas, and Hall, a fifth-round pick.

Based on last year's preseason approach by O'Connell that shelved most starters, Mullens and Hall should get plenty of reps in exhibition games.

Mullens took the brunt of the reps immediately behind Cousins during Minnesota's offseason workout program.

A rule change this offseason to allow more roster flexibility at quarterback might entice more teams to roster a third quarterback among its 53 players, but we won't know how the Vikings approach that until the season rolls around.