WARE, Hertfordshire, England — Kirk Cousins surveyed the field and the vista with picturesque golf hills in the foreground and estates in the distance.
He and his teammates landed across the pond around 8 a.m. London time Friday and later that afternoon held their final full practice of the week before facing the Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Sunday.
"I think it was the most scenic football practice I've ever had in my life, looking out over the rolling hills," Cousins told U.S. and U.K. media members following the practice. "Really fun place to have a football practice and a fun place to stay. This is an incredible property. It's really convenient to have your room and your meetings and your meals and your practice and your locker room all within walking distance of each other.
"Looking out at one of the homes in the distance looked like the Skyfall mansion in the James Bond movie," he later added. "It just had a cool feel to it, so you kind of enjoy that part of it."
The 90-yard practice field was created at the hotel property that is hosting the Vikings on Friday through Sunday morning. An upscale tent structure provided the team a proper locker room and training room.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell appreciated a "pretty lively practice" despite the long trip and loss of six hours caused by the time difference. He credited Executive Director of Player Health and Performance Tyler Williams and his staff for so strategically and thoughtfully planning the travel logistics.
"The hard part is over from a preparation standpoint. We've got an unbelievable challenge against a good team on Sunday. But, from here on out, we are here, we are getting into recovery-mode now and locking in the plan," O'Connell said. "I thought the players handled it great."
Cousins' last time playing in London was with Washington in 2016, when the Commanders and Bengals tied 27-27.
"I'm trying to draw from my first experience on what to do better or what to do the same," he said. "And then, I've been over here a few times in the offseason, as well, for some different events with the NFL and the U.K. and had a great time on all my visits. It's been fun to come back, and I'm looking forward to a great game on Sunday."
View photos of Vikings fans in London, England ahead of the Week 4 game vs. the Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
What will Cousins do differently this time around?
For starters, he'd love Sunday's game to end in a Vikings win, not a tie.
"Although I think the fan base here is more accustomed to that and understands that's part of sports, whereas back home it's kind of a head scratcher," Cousins said. "It was a back-and-forth game, great game, exciting game, probably one of the better NFL games I've played in and been a part of, one of the more memorable ones certainly. I would expect Sunday to be similar."
The quarterback is interested to see how the crowd shakes out come Sunday afternoon – or 8:30 a.m. (CT) for Vikings fans back home.
Though it's technically a "home" game for the Saints, Cousins is anticipating the fans to be a mix of Saints, Vikings … and lots of other teams … supporters.
"We'll see how it's all divided up," said Cousins, who wore a team-issued, black T-shirt with SKOL printed in block letters above UK Vikings and a strip of purple, yellow and part of the U.K.'s Union Jack. "You'll get your Dolphins jerseys and Bears jerseys in the crowd to celebrate American football, but I certainly expect Vikings fans to travel well.
"They kind of always have, thanks to the way the Vikings teams played in the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s," he added. "We've kind of built up this global fan base, and I expect them to turn out in London, just like they do in other games."
O'Connell shared similar sentiments.
"I know our ownership and our organization, we feel very strongly about continuing to build our great fanbase," he said. "I've already felt it early on, and we haven't been here long. I'm expecting to see a lot of Vikings fans here, obviously at the game on Sunday."
O'Connell noted the Vikings were able to connect with 100-plus young people during a clinic at the hotel.
"Their families were out here, and our guys got a chance to spend some time with them pre-practice. So, just as much as we can connect while we're here," O'Connell said. "Our players love being on this new field with passionate Vikings fans and people who are really all over the world."
Looking ahead to Sunday's game, Cousins said he plans to "put on a show" for everyone at the game and especially those U.K. fans who faithfully support the Vikings year-round.
"We're thrilled to be here. We're expecting to … give them a lot to cheer for," Cousins said. "I know they're dying to cheer for us. I would ask them to be loud and proud, and hopefully bring the SKOL Chant, so it's a great lift to our spirits when we take the field and see them there in the stands."
Below are additional takeaways from media interviews Friday.
Harrison Smith appreciates growth in fandom since first trip
Safety Harrison Smith is not only a veteran when it comes to his time with the Vikings, but with trips to London. He's has made all three of Minnesota's treks to England since 2013.
Each time that he's gone, Smith said he's witnessed the game of football grow with the London fans.
"The fans over here have embraced American football quite a bit and know a lot about the sport," Smith said. "I was fortunate to come over the last couple times I played [before the week of the games], and I'd go around and visit with fans, and they were really knowledgeable about the game."
Justin Jefferson taking The Griddy global
On the other side of the ball, wide receiver Justin Jefferson is making his first trip to London. Jefferson said while it'll be a little bit of an adjustment, he's ready to experience the England atmosphere.
"This is my first time with the whole thing. It's definitely exciting to be here, for sure," Jefferson said. "I wish we had more time to go to a soccer game. What y'all call football. This whole experience is just pretty cool for me."
Jefferson not only is preparing to display his signature touchdown celebration, The Griddy, should he score on Sunday but is also getting ready to face a tough and physical Saints secondary.
Jefferson said after seeing double and sometimes triple teams from opposing defenses the past two weeks, he just needs to stay patient throughout the game.
"Just having to buy into the technical part of the receiver game and just try to win at the line of scrimmage," Jefferson said. "But I know the type of player I am. Once I win on the line of scrimmage, it's definitely difficult to stay with me."
View photos of Vikings players from practice on Sept. 30 in London, England.
Kendricks glad next chapter of Vikings-Saints will featuring unique setting
Car buff Eric Kendricks equated the growth he's seen in American football in the U.K. with the way Formula 1 racing took better grip in the States after it increased its exposure through a Netflix series.
He played here in 2017 and will make his 100th career regular-season start Sunday. He's excited that the Vikings-Saints rivalry, which hit another gear at the end of that 2017 season, will add a new chapter in a spectacular setting.
"I feel like we've been going back and forth. It's going to be physical," Kendricks said. "It's going to be major, but at the same time, it makes sense we're playing them in London, too. It's got to be bigger. I know they're going to be excited to face us."
He described the past experience in a London game as "a blast" and this one as "a blessing."
"It's just a different environment, and you can kind of make excuses for why it's difficult or X, Y, Z, but it's an opportunity for me to play football and play it at the highest level," Kendricks said. "I'm extremely blessed. This is a cool opportunity at the end of the day, and I'm going to take advantage of it."
Cook appreciates Vikings travel approach & fans' showing of support
Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 4 of the 2017 NFL season, so he didn't get to play in front of the London crowd.
Although he suffered a shoulder injury last week against Detroit, he fully participated Thursday and Friday and did not receive a status designation for the game. He said he appreciated the Vikings approach to travel this week.
"I think the setup and the plan that they had for us was great. I think it's all a mind thing," Cook said. "Being tired, you can't control that, but the way you recover and the way you get your body ready to go play on Sunday, you can control that."
He's hoping to give Vikings fans who made the trek and NFL fans here an enjoyable afternoon of football.
"To the U.K. fans, I appreciate y'all for all the love," Cook said. "We appreciate it so much. It'll be a show on Sunday, make sure we get a win. SKOL Vikes."