The Minnesota Vikings have been dealing with a public health scare this week after a number of players voiced their concerns about the team’s vaccination policy. Coach Mike Zimmer, who has seen his team deal with the controversy head-on, is not happy with how it’s been handled by some players and expects more to miss games during the season.
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — As the Minnesota Vikings began their second week of training camp without three of their four quarterbacks due to a COVID-19 interruption, coach Mike Zimmer expressed his displeasure with unvaccinated players and the possibility that the situation his team is in now could turn into a reality during the regular season.
Zimmer said, “I just feel like we’re going to have players miss games.” “There are many cases pending right now. We’ll have to deal with certain players missing games, and we need to be ready for that.”
Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, and Nate Stanley were put on the COVID-19 reserve list by the Vikings on Sunday, one day after Jake Browning was the sole quarterback available for Minnesota’s Saturday evening practice. On Monday, Minnesota rookie receiver Myron Mitchell was added on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Mond had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day on Saturday. As a consequence, Cousins and Stanley, who are considered high-risk close contacts because they are immunized, must isolate for five days before being allowed to come off the reserve list and return to practice, according to a league source.
Zimmer expressed his displeasure with his players as well as “everyone” who has not taken the COVID-19 vaccination. “Going through all of the things you had to go through last year with masks, protocol, flying, not being able to leave for a day, not being able to see your family, and everything else — not being able to go out to eat on the road, having to wear masks on the aircraft, and everything else. It was simply a struggle “Zimmer said. “I just don’t get it. I just don’t get it. If we all do this, I believe we will be able to put this to rest. However, it is what it is.”
Following Saturday’s disturbance, the Vikings coach said he talked with his players again about his position on vaccines and the severe repercussions of not getting vaccinated.
“I spoke with the team, and as I have said, there are quite a few players that are just opposed to it,” Zimmer said. “I’m not going to be able to persuade them otherwise, so it’s like half the nation.”
In the event that another COVID-19 disruption occurs during a game week, Zimmer said the Vikings are considering a plan in which one quarterback is isolated from the rest of the position room for the duration of the season. That, however, would be contingent on how many Vikings quarterbacks have been immunized. Browning is the only one left at the moment.
The possibility that the Vikings’ present scenario might repeat itself during a game week made Zimmer wonder how he would respond if the Vikings lost a game because their starting quarterback or a key player was unavailable due to COVID-19 procedures.
Zimmer stated, “I probably won’t be pleased we lost the game, and I probably won’t be happy we could’ve avoided this.” “As I have said, some of these people just will not do it. I’m not supposed to say anything, but some of the things they read are just…wow.”
“So, it’s their beliefs. I’m not sure whether it’s false information. Whatever they’ve heard, read, or been taught, it’s their belief. Not from — it’s possible they don’t trust what [NFL chief medical officer] Dr. [Allen] Sills and the NFL are telling them.”
Following a tryout on Monday, the Vikings signed quarterback Case Cookus, who subsequently joined Browning for practice. QB Danny Etling was also grabbed off waivers by Minnesota.
Browning, who spent the previous two years on Minnesota’s practice squad following a four-year stint as a starter at Washington (where he set a Pac-12 record with 39 victories), improved his chances of becoming the Vikings’ No. 2 quarterback with a solid performance during the Vikings’ fourth session. Despite being the only quarterback available on Saturday evening, Zimmer said Browning instructed him not to reduce any repetitions.
“I think those repetitions are extremely important for someone in my position, as an undrafted player who’s been on the practice squad,” Browning said. “I didn’t want anybody to believe I didn’t want to take every single one of those repetitions, and I didn’t want to be in a position where they were reducing practice and depriving other men, as well as myself, of important reps. I simply figured that with the situation as it is, I should get as many reps as possible. Those repetitions are very important when you’re a backup quarterback, so I wanted to grab them all.”