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Zimmer Readying to Welcome Cousins Into Vikings Culture

Only a few days remain before the Vikings head back to work for the team's voluntary offseason program.

It is an unofficial milestone, but certainly one that Minnesota's new starting quarterback Kirk Cousins has had circled since mid-March when he signed with the Vikings.

"What I'm looking forward to is getting to know teammates over the next few weeks, reaching out to them, building relationships," Cousins said. "Hopefully being able to spend some time with them and then get to work April 16th with the organization. That is where my focus lays."

Cousins will be one of a handful of fresh faces on Minnesota's roster who meet most of their new teammates for the first time at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan on Monday.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and wide receiver Kendall Wright will also get their first taste of the vibe and atmosphere surrounding the defending NFC North champions.

But most of the focus will be on helping Cousins assimilate into the Vikings culture.

"I think the big thing is that I need to spend a lot of time with [Kirk] and get to know him better, him get to know me so we're both on the same page," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "I think the [team is] excited to have Cousins here. Of the small number of guys I've talked to, they're excited to have him. I don't think there will be an issue in the quarterback room whatsoever."

Zimmer is somewhat used to having a new signal caller in the huddle, as Cousins is slated be the fifth Week 1 starter in Zimmer's five years in Minnesota.

Zimmer said last month that he has a plan for helping Cousins feel comfortable and a part of the team in a short period of time.

"I think it's like you do with every guy. You use your personality around him," Zimmer said at the Annual League Meeting in Orlando in late March. "We've got to get to know each other and how that's going to go, but same thing with the team. I'm going to give him some [crap]. That's who I am. I'm going to joke around with him and tease him once in a while because I want him to fit in with the rest of the guys, no different than I did with Case [Keenum] or Teddy [Bridgewater] or Sam [Bradford] or Harrison Smith. I don't think that's going to be an issue.

"This kid wants to — the conversations that I've had with him, this kid wants to come in and is excited about being there. He wants to come in and be part of the team. He doesn't want to be described as a savior or anything like that," Zimmer added. "I think he's coming in as just another piece of the puzzle, and I think he's happy to be there and happy to be around a good bunch of guys. I think they're good guys, and he's a good guy, so he'll fit in well there."

Zimmer doesn't just plan to crack a few jokes in the early going and be done with it, however.

He said last month that he wants to get to know Cousins as both a quarterback and a person, and is willing to log a few miles to make sure he and his new starter are on the same wavelength going forward.

"Probably what I'll do in the beginning, like we normally do in OTAs, is try to get to know him as a person," Zimmer said. "And then my plan is to go see him sometime in the offseason or sometime in the summer, sit down with him and have dinner with him and we can talk about different things.

"I figure it's better to get the football part going first and then start to get to know him better," Zimmer added. "It depends on where he's at and what he's comfortable with."

The hope is that the marriage between Cousins and the Vikings lasts a long time, but the first steps start on Monday.

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