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Notebook: Cousins Finds New Route, Determines Favorite Vikings Play

EAGAN, Minn. — Kirk Cousins: long-time player, first-time caller.

It seems somewhat impossible that in 12 seasons of college (one was as a redshirt) and pro football, during which Cousins has attempted 3,830 passes, that there's a route that hasn't been run by a teammate.

The quarterback, however, said Wednesday that such an occasion has happened during this Verizon Vikings Training Camp.

After a big day in the red zone and crisp touchdown pass in the team's situational drill near the end of practice, Cousins said he was recently talking to quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak about his belief that a route new to him will find success in 2019, his eighth pro season and second in Minnesota.

"I said, 'That route is going to get run this year, and it's going to make me a better player,' " Cousins said. "I got my list of new plays, but I'm not telling anybody except for the guys within the building."

Cousins also mentioned that he has "identified" his favorite plays in the playbook.

"I've got my list," Cousins said. "I just told [Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator] Rick Dennison today, we called a play, I said, 'That's my favorite play in the entire playbook,' and I said, 'It shouldn't even be legal.' They should make a rule to make it illegal, but it's legal."

August will feature four Vikings preseason games, beginning in New Orleans on Aug. 9, but the Vikings aren't likely to unveil much of the playbook until the regular-season opener against Atlanta on Sept. 8.

Until then, Cousins said he's looking forward to having as many game-like situations as possible, including the night practice this Saturday.

"I try to encourage the coaches to create an environment that mimics the game, and sometimes walk-throughs and team periods don't really feel like a game," Cousins said. "But that last period, ball is on the plus-33, end of the half, offense is down 10-0, you got one timeout, first-and-10, minute and two seconds left, 'Go.'

"That mimics the game, so that gives us an opportunity to really feel like we're in it, and I feel like those are great experiences to have at quarterback," he added.

Alexander 'has turned the corner'

It's been a year and a day since Mackensie Alexander opened up during the 2018 Vikings training camp about not seeing the value in playing the nickel position when he arrived in Minnesota.

Alexander is generally pretty quiet when it comes to doing interviews. He had starred at Clemson as an outside corner and wasn't too keen on moving to the inside in 2016 or 2017. His shift in mindset last summer led to better results in the fall.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer believes that was just the beginning. The coach, who entered the NFL as Dallas' defensive backs coach in 1994 when Alexander turned 1, complimented Alexander's embrace of the nickel role.

"He's probably changed as far as work ethic and attitude and everything more than maybe any guy I've ever coached," Zimmer said. "He's just completely bought into everything we're doing, is asking the right questions, taking extra reps on the field. He's turned the corner that way from his rookie year, whew."

Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said Alexander has "grown up a whole lot in his time here" and increased reps have helped him.

"He has more experience now at the position," Edwards said. "He understands not only his job but how his job affects everybody around him, communication-wise, technique-wise, fundamental-wise, and down the stretch last year, he played pretty good for us and has come out here and done a good job so far as we've started camp. You can tell he's got a better feel for it."

Is Viktor scary?

Viktor the Viking attended a backpack distribution by the Mike Zimmer Foundation for The Salvation Army on Tuesday, and FOX9 filmed Zimmer comforting a young girl who isn't too comfortable around mascots.

That prompted Viktor to try to answer #IsViktorScary through a Twitter poll and a mascot-on-the-street approach around camp.

It turns out, he can be if he chooses to be, as evidenced in this video, which is opened by Vikings.com's own Lindsey Young:

Follow @ViktorTheViking on Twitter and check out his full recap from Wednesday.

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