If you thought COVID-19 wouldn’t rear its ugly head during the 2021 football season, then think again.
Our first high-profile issue is (relatively) close to home, as it is impacting a Chicago Bears division rival:
The #Vikings are expected to be without three quarterbacks — including starter Kirk Cousins — for tonight's practice after rookie Kellen Mond tested positive for COVID-19, per league sources.
Cousins is a high-risk close contact. The team is going through contact tracing.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 31, 2021
The Minnesota Vikings will be without three quarterbacks for tonight’s proactive due to COVID-19 protocols, reports NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero. Among them 2021 third-round pick Kellen Mond, who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, and starter Kirk Cousins, who is in protocol as a high-risk close contact. It doesn’t get any more “close contact” than sharing a position group. All of this leaves Jake Browning, a 25-year-old with no professional snaps under his belt, left to take all the practice snaps.
Hey, at least he can tell his grandkids one day that he got to throw to Justin Jefferson. That’s kinda neat!
What’s not-so-neat is that Head Coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t seem pleased with this development:
Mike Zimmer: "Quite honestly, after everything we went through last year, I’m not surprised one bit. 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]."
— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) July 31, 2021
#Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he can't talk about any specific names about those in COVID-19 protocols.: Says "that's why people should get vaccinated."
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) July 31, 2021
I can’t front. If the shoe was on the other foot and it was the Bears’ rookie QB on the cusp of missing time in their first training camp, I’d be steaming about it, too. To be clear, I understand that it’s just training camp. And we’re early enough in camp to realize there is time to make up for lost snaps. But every practice rep matters for rookies. Moreover, they all matter for a quarterback who is more likely to be a long-term solution in Minnesota than the incumbent Cousins.
Considering how we’ve heard baseball managers and front office leaders talk about getting the vaccination being a competitive advantage, I’m sure football coaches and front office types will soon parrot that sentiment. And especially when it comes to quarterbacks, a position group that is already thin to begin with in the first place. Last year, the Broncos started a receiver-turned-quarterback due to their QBs being in COVID protocols. And if this Vikings situation were to play out in the regular season, they might be in a similar position.