The Vikings presumably will be without their starting quarterback and his possible heir apparent on Monday when they ramp up training with their first padded practice of camp.
There are worse times for their COVID nightmare to play out — like, say, late December before a meaningful game — but news Saturday that Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley would all be missing a night practice because of league health and safety protocols was still jarring.
Mond, who per sources has been following the protocols and testing frequency of an unvaccinated player, reportedly tested positive for COVID. Cousins being forced out suggests he is not vaccinated and will miss at least five days. Those are the only two quarterbacks on the roster who really matter — now and more importantly as the summer gives way to fall.
I talked about that on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast with Patrick Reusse. We were bemused by just how upset Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is at the whole thing — with Cousins' vaccination status being at the top of that list — but it's also entirely understandable when you understand the psychology of a head coach.
Let's take a shallow dive into a few key "D" words that help explain Zimmer's disdain:
*Dumb: Coaches hate dumb mistakes. Zimmer's point blank quote about Browning being available shows where he stands on this. "Jake's really smart. He's vaccinated. That helps to be the backup." Zimmer likely views not being vaccinated as a dumb (and preventable) decision, both in life and within the context of a football team.
*Disappointed: Let's just let another Zimmer quote do all the work here. "I am disappointed that this happened. I'm frustrated, not just with my football players who didn't get vaccinated, but I'm frustrated with everybody [who didn't]."
*Distraction: Every moment spent on this is a moment not spent on football. That drives coaches crazy. Sometimes their paranoia about distractions is unnecessary or even comically extreme. This is legitimate for multiple reasons, including the ability of this subject to divide teams.
*Disruption: This is different from a distraction. A disruption isn't just something that happens off the field and gets talked about. It's something that interrupts the ability to compete. If you don't have three quarterbacks, that impacts your ability to compete. It will set the Vikings back in camp.
*Dark: And if Cousins remains unvaccinated, he will be subject to league protocols anytime he is a close contact (or, of course, if he tests positive). The unknown drives coaches nuts because they are conditioned to imagine worst-case scenarios.
"Something like this happens a day before a game that has a chance to get you to the playoffs or something like that," Zimmer said.
And of course the cumulative weight of this season is heavy for Cousins, Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman. If it doesn't go well this year, there could be another D word for all of their tenures in Minnesota.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said Vikings QB Kellen Mond was vaccinated. His vaccination status has not been confirmed.