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State of 8: Cousins Says Vikings Organization Has 'Exceeded My Expectations'

EAGAN, Minn. — Kirk Cousins is nine games into his career in Minnesota, and the returns so far have been worthwhile for the Vikings quarterback.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday that Cousins has been "phenomenal" so far this season, and the numbers back that up.

Cousins has thrived in his first season in Purple. He has completed 259 of 363 passes (71.3 percent) for 2,685 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. Cousins, who is tied for third in the NFL in passing yards, also has a career-high quarterback rating of 102.2.

Cousins met with the media Tuesday and gave his own assessment of the season so far, and noted that the organization has "exceeded my expectations" from when the quarterback signed a three-year deal as a free agent in mid-March.

"I think in a lot of ways, this experience has exceeded my expectations," Cousins said. "When you look at it glass half-full, I'm thrilled about our locker room, the chemistry we have on this team, the quality of teammates, the quality of leadership in this organization … all of that has even exceeded expectations for me.

"Certainly I wish we were better than 5-3-1, but I'm grateful we're not 3-5-1," Cousins added. "You can look at it both ways."

Here are three other topics Cousins addressed during his session with media:

1. Weekend plans

Cousins won't have to worry about reading opposing defenses or deciphering blitz packages this weekend.

The Vikings have a bye and a chance to rest up before the final seven games of the season.

The quarterback outlined his plans for the upcoming weekend.

"I won't be coming to the building over the weekend. Just get rest and try to take some time away," Cousins said. "I think the most [time] you ever really get away is maybe two to three days.

"Once we start in July and then finish when we finish, hopefully as late as possible, the most I'm ever getting off is really these three to four days," Cousins added. "Other than that, it's one day and then you're back all the way. You try to take advantage of this time."

2. Finding the comfort level

Cousins said Tuesday that he had early concerns with how the Vikings offense would jell with himself, new Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo and a cast of skill players all working together for the first time.

But the unit has been mostly productive. Minnesota ranks 12th overall with 374.3 yards per game and is 13th in the NFL with 24.6 points per game.

Cousins said the offense is more comfortable in "every area," compared to the start of the season. He added that the 2018 Vikings are establishing their identity.

"You start to build your own identity with what you do well and what you want to focus on," Cousins said.

"I remember in preseason, I was frustrated we didn't get Adam Thielen the ball enough. We weren't utilizing him as much in those preseason games, but you look back at these eight or nine games and we've clearly gotten Adam the ball enough," Cousins added. "You have these things you're trying to glean from training camp and preseason games, but at the end of the day, many times it doesn't tell you the story until you go out and play. I think that's been good to see."

Thielen leads the NFL with 78 receptions for 947 yards and is tied for second with seven touchdown catches.

3. Ready for the gauntlet

The Vikings have quite the four-game stretch out of the bye week.

Minnesota's gauntlet includes road games at Chicago, New England and Seattle, plus a home game on Sunday Night Football with the Packers.

There's a good chance the Vikings will have an idea of their playoff hopes after that four-game run.

Cousins said he was excited that "everything is in front of us" and noted how fun the opportunity is "when you have meaningful games to be played in November and December."

Minnesota currently sits behind the 5-3 Bears in the NFC North. The Vikings have a 1-0-1 record in division play.

"What I know is, we're 5-3-1," Cousins said. "I know we have meaningful games ahead of us, and that's really where my focus is."

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