EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is going through his second offseason in Minnesota but this time around has an entire season in Purple under his belt.
Cousins greeted Twin Cities media members Wednesday following the team’s voluntary Organized Team Activity practice and emphasized the importance of continuity.
“Being able to be back for a second year should help. There is more of a command. I can take a little more ownership and a little more control than maybe what I had last year,” Cousins said. “Then you add the fact that it is a new system so there is still some level of starting over a little bit.
“I look forward to having continuity the best we can, and the better you play and the more we win, you are able to keep that,” Cousins continued. “Players stick around, coaches stick around. That lends itself to having more success. That is what we are working towards.”
Cousins said it was good to get back on the practice field and work on getting “the bad taste out of our mouths” after falling short of the team’s goals in 2018.
“We are excited now to start building toward 2019 and to continue to build team chemistry, which is what OTAs start to become about,” Cousins said. “Just spending time with one another and developing with new teammates and getting to know the rookie class and getting to know a new system.”
Part of that chemistry will be between Cousins and rookie center Garrett Bradbury, whom the Vikings drafted 18th overall in April.
Despite a seven-year age difference between the teammates, Cousins is already impressed by Bradbury and looking forward to continue building a rapport. He called the center a “class act” and mentioned that he tucks his shirt in every day.
“I think that sends a message right there,” Cousins said with a smile. “He is ready to work. He’s got his shorts tied tight, tucked-in jersey. I respect that. From there, he is a hard worker, he is a smart kid, very mature. I look forward to him being here a long time.”
Cousins pointed out that, counting last offseason, he took snaps from “probably four centers” – and five, if you count guard Danny Isidora briefly sliding to center during the preseason.
He called the situation “less than ideal” and is hopeful that Bradbury will be a consistent anchor on the line.
“I [told Garrett], ‘I’d like to have you and I work together for about the next decade, if that’s OK with you,’ ” Cousins said. “So, we’ll see what happens, but that would be my goal and, I think, the organization’s goal. I just tried to set that vision for him to say, ‘You be the guy here for the next 10 years, and let’s not have to worry about having anybody else snap for the quarterback.’
“He’s got a long ways to go to do that, but he’s got all the right stuff, and we’ll just keep stacking days on top of one another to get him where he needs to be.”
Cousins realizes the value of getting to know Bradbury outside the parameters of a football field.
He mentioned interactions that he and the rookie have together off the field, including conversations in the cafeteria.
“You sit around at the breakfast table, and you just get to know him as a person and understand he has his head on straight,” Cousins said. “That’s a good place to start. That is what all those meetings are about at the [NFL Scouting] Combine, the Senior Bowl, and those kinds of things to get to know players as people.
“Because ultimately to win, you have to have good people,” Cousins added. “If you are a great athlete but not a great person, eventually it is going to catch up with you. I think they’ve done a good job of bringing good people into our locker room. Garrett is certainly a great person, so he is made of all the right stuff.”
Cousins is looking forward to seeing Bradbury progress at practices and, eventually, get a chance to go against Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph. Joseph was present at both OTA practices but did not take reps during team drills.
“I joked with [Garrett] today, I said, ‘You see Darth Vader over there? You are going to have to block him. You ready?’ ” Cousins laughed. “I think it’s been to our advantage Linval has taken a couple days off here, but when he gets back, it’s for real. That is the challenge, just getting caught up to speed with blocking the best in the world.”
Under a new offensive system, however, it’s not only the rookies who are learning.
Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s interim tag from the 2018 season was lifted and, in addition to other coaching hires, the Vikings also brought in Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary Kubiak.
Cousins acknowledged there have been “a lot of changes” in terminology and beyond.
“Terms, formations, motions, the way we even philosophically are handling things,” Cousins said. “But I think it’s a positive thing. We are excited about the scheme, about the way it’s designed and about the philosophy behind it.
“I think there is a big track record through the years of Coach [Gary] Kubiak having success,” Cousins continued. “I love that Kevin Stefanski has been around [former Vikings Head Coach] Brad Childress. He’s been around [former Vikings Offensive Coordinators] Pat Shurmur [and] Norv Turner. He’s really seen some of the best offensive minds of the last two decades. He’s been around them. That really helps him pick and pull from all of that to create the 2019 Vikings offense.”