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Cousins Establishes Quick Connections with Thielen, Diggs

EAGAN, Minn. — Kirk Cousins dropped back Tuesday afternoon and sent the pigskin sailing inside the massive indoor practice facility at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

The Vikings quarterback linked up with wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs on an array of passes, as the connection between Cousins and two of his new targets was on full display.

But it wasn't the first time the trio has gotten in some work together. Thielen and Diggs met up with Cousins shortly after he signed to establish a crucial rapport both on and off the field.

"We just met in Atlanta briefly. Stef' and Adam came down, and we spent a couple of days together," Cousins said. "I thought it was productive, more than just football, but to get to know each other a little bit and build somewhat of a foundation before we started with the whole crew last Monday."

Each player has filled the stat sheet in recent years.

Cousins has thrown for 4,000-plus yards and at least 25 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons. Thielen and Diggs, meanwhile, combined for 155 receptions for 2,125 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2017.

The quarterback said he's fortunate to team with a pair of elite wide receivers in his new offense.

"I've got a smile on my face from ear to ear," Cousins said. "Adam and Stef' are the two that everyone knows about, and thus far, with the little bit of work that we've done, they've lived up to the hype as well.

"I've been fortunate to play with some great receivers, and it looks like they are right there with any of them. I'm excited for that opportunity. They're going to make me a better player," Cousins added. "It's great to work with veteran players like that who have had success, know what it takes. I can, more or less, it's oversimplifying it, but can just plug and play."

Tight end Kyle Rudolph — who is expected to be another one of Cousins' main targets — said the quarterback has brought an infectious energy to early offseason workouts.

"Obviously he's a phenomenal football player, but he's an even better person, and he's a great leader," Rudolph said. "You can just see that, he kind of naturally has that aura about him. He's energetic, he's excited about coming to work every day, and that's what you expect out of your quarterback."

But all involved know that adding a player of Cousins' caliber means heightened expectations, especially since the Vikings are already coming off a season in which they went 13-3, won the NFC North and advanced to the NFC Championship.

Cousins said he wouldn't have it any other way.

"It is what it is. I don't want to be on a team with low expectations, do I? I think that it's a part of playing in this league, there's pressure on everybody, and it would be immature for us to focus on the expectations," Cousins said. "I'm just focused on being the best quarterback I can be today. I'm trying to have a great Tuesday, and finish today right and go home and be with my family and then focus and having a great Wednesday tomorrow.

"That's where my focus is, the rest will take care of itself," Cousins added. "If we do our job each and every day and have the best OTAs we can have, then the results that everyone is looking to see and care about in the fall will take care of themselves."

Cousins signed a three-year deal with the Vikings in March. The former fourth-round pick in 2012 out of Michigan State threw for 13,176 yards and 81 touchdowns while compiling a passer rating of 97.6 in the past three seasons as Washington's starter.

He said the impressions of his new team have matched what he anticipated.

"It's the real deal. I wasn't fooled on the free agency visit; what I saw then has been the truth," Cousins said about his first impressions of his new team. "There's no aloof personalities in the locker room, everybody has been very down to earth, there's a humility there.

"There's a formula here for success. I sit in the team meetings and I see the organization, I see the attention to detail, I see the professionalism, and it's no surprise why they were successful last year, and it's no surprise why I wanted to be here," Cousins added. "I'm very, very impressed with what I've seen, but at the same time was expecting that all along."

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