MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. –Kirk Cousins isn't afraid to be himself while adjusting to a new team and new playbook.
And that's fine by his teammates, who already are feeding off the quarterback's natural energy.
When asked by media members at the Vikings "Team Up to Give Back" event about being comfortable in his "leadership skin," so to speak, Cousins smiled.
"I think as a seventh-year player now, you have a little freedom to just be yourself and to not take a back seat, and to just be vocal within reason," Cousins said. "Be a leader, step up, and let your voice be heard."
Added Cousins: "To their credit, the guys have received well, and it's been fun – to just assimilate myself into the offense and into the program."
Mike Zimmer said that Cousins has been feeling his way around but simultaneously has already asserted himself as a leader in the locker room.
"He is taking charge," Zimmer said.
The head coach also took it upon himself to help make that transition smoother for Cousins. In each of the past two seasons, Zimmer was faced with a change of quarterback just before or immediately after the start of the season.
This time around, Zimmer has the luxury of an offseason to build a rapport with the starting signal caller.
"I have to develop a relationship with him. I have to sit down and talk to him about things that I think about the team. I have had some good conversations with him," Zimmer said. "I think it's just getting comfortable around everything. When you go to a new place and all the players are new, all the coaches are new, the install is new, the snap count is new, everything is different, and it just takes some time. I think he is doing a good job developing all those."
Teammates have expressed nothing but high opinions of the new kid on the block.
Latavius Murray called Cousins a "natural leader" and has observed his efforts to get to know offensive and defensive players.
Center Pat Elflein is entering his second NFL season and is excited about blocking for Cousins. Both on the field and off, Elflein has been impressed.
"He's been great; everyone loves him," said Elflein. "He's a hard worker and good football player, so he fits in well around here."
Added tight end Blake Bell: "The way he can command a huddle and his leadership on the field is pretty special."
When asked if Cousins is happy with the progress he's made since signing with the Vikings on March 15, he reflected over the past six weeks and said he's "come a long ways" but still has a ways to go.
He's appreciative, though, of the way the Vikings have made the adjustment period relatively seamless.
"It's helped that the organization and the locker room has welcomed me with open arms. They've been very accommodating, very supportive," Cousins said. "And that's certainly made the transition easy. Not only for me, but for my wife and our family. [We continue] to be excited to be here. Just got to keep taking steps and keep getting the offense and playbook mastered."