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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Captain Kirk: Cousins’ new teammates make it clear, “It’s your show”

By Judd Zulgad

The expectations that come with Kirk Cousins’ $84 million, three-year contract are enormous. The Vikings allowed Case Keenum to depart as a free agent and made Cousins the first quarterback in NFL history to sign a multi-year, fully guaranteed contract because they see him as the guy who can lead them to the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

Despite this, Cousins had some reservations about how quickly he could take control in the locker room. “The amount of money you make doesn’t give people a desire to suddenly follow you,” he said. “I’ve played on a team where I’ve made league minimum and was a starting quarterback, too. You better believe that I have to command and have a presence about me that guys want to follow regardless of what my contract says. So, if you’re a fake your contract is not going to help you. You have to be the real deal no matter what.”

Cousins spoke on Thursday as the Vikings’ rookies and quarterbacks went through a second day of training camp practice at the team’s facility in Eagan. The entire roster will take the practice field for the first time on Saturday and there’s now little doubt that the new quarterback with the huge contract will be in charge.

Cousins said it’s not because he decided that would be the case but because his teammates made it clear during offseason workouts that that’s what they wanted. Entering his seventh NFL season, and first in which he isn’t a member of the Washington Redskins, Cousins is going to be expected to lead from the start.

“That was my question coming in,” Cousins said. “How long do I sit back and watch and listen and learn before I start to act like a starting quarterback? What I was trying to communicate in the spring was that I was surprised by how much my teammates gave me that license to lead quickly. I thought they were going to want to have me prove myself a little bit longer than maybe I had to. … They said, ‘No man, it’s your show, let’s go.’”

Cousins long has embraced having a chip on his shoulder and being the guy who people didn’t think could do it. This was true when he began his collegiate career at Michigan State with the expectation that he would be stuck behind teammate Nick Foles. (He wasn’t and Foles eventually transferred to Arizona.)

It also was the case when Cousins was drafted in the fourth round by Washington in 2012, 100 picks behind Redskins’ first-round pick and fellow quarterback Robert Griffin III. Cousins appeared destined to spend much of his career on an NFL bench, much of it playing behind Griffin. (He didn’t and was the starter in Washington by 2015.)

There are few doubting Cousins these days and his Vikings teammates, coming off a disappointing loss to Philadelphia in the NFC title game last season, will be expecting his run of three consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons to continue in 2018.

The Vikings were willing to guarantee Cousins’ contract and pay him this type of money — he was briefly the highest-paid player in the NFL — because they are convinced he is going to solve the long-standing issue this franchise has had of finding a starting quarterback. The expectation was Teddy Bridgewater was going to be that guy, but that came to an end when the 2014 first-round pick suffered a catastrophic knee injury just before the 2016 season.

Sam Bradford was acquired from the Eagles for a first-round pick in the days after Bridgewater’s injury and while he started all but one game in 2016, his 2017 season pretty much came to an end after one start because of a knee injury. Keenum played a key role in the Vikings’ 13-3 regular-season record in 2017, but the franchise did not see him as the long-term solution.

The 29-year-old Cousins has been put in charge of this offense because he is considered to be the answer.

“I’ve said something for a long time,” new Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “If there’s a quarterback competition, you don’t have one. I’ve been at spots before where there is a quarterback competition, and you’re worried because neither guy is really stepping in front of the other one and separating himself from the other guy. To be quite honest with you, if there’s a quarterback competition usually you don’t have one. We don’t have that here, and I think we exude that confidence in Kirk. I think he exudes that confidence in us, and we’re really looking forward to him playing well this year.”

DeFilippo nailed it, except for the last part. The Vikings aren’t paying Cousins $84 million to play well. Keenum could have returned and played well. Cousins is making the big bucks for only one reason — to win a Super Bowl.

The post Captain Kirk: Cousins’ new teammates make it clear, “It’s your show” appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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