Vikings' Kirk Cousins enters COVID protocols, won't play vs. Packers

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is heading to the reserve/COVID-19 list, the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Friday. Cousins will not be able to play Sunday.

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The Vikings are scheduled to play at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Minnesota (7-8) needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive and announced Cousins' placement on the list later Friday.

Cousins is unvaccinated and unable to return before the game. Backup quarterback Sean Mannion was put on the reserve/COVID-19 on Sunday but was activated Friday. Head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters Mannion will be the starter on Sunday.

If Mannion was not activated in time, the team would have had to turn to Kellen Mond or Kyle Sloter, per Chad Graff of The Athletic.

Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins has entered health and safety protocols at a time when the Vikings need a win to stay in playoff contention. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Kirk Cousins' unvaccinated status always a concern

Cousins missed practices in August due to being a high-risk close contact and said at the time he was "at peace" with his decision not to be vaccinated. He told reporters he considered surrounding himself with plexiglass in the quarterbacks room to protect himself. When asked why not go ahead and receive the vaccine, which would be far more effective, he said it was a "personal and private" decision.

There was concern he would lose his ability to lead because of his unwillingness to be vaccinated and his hometown hospital cut ties with him over his stance.

The biggest concern for any unvaccinated NFL player is that he'll miss time when needed most, which is the case for Cousins. Not only are the Vikings without their first-string quarterback, they could be down to a rookie in Mond or a player who was signed to the roster this week. Because it's Friday, neither of these players have taken the first-string snaps in preparation for Green Bay.

Vikings playoff implications

The Packers have already clinched the NFC North with a 12-3 record, the best in the NFC. A win over the Vikings and a Cowboys loss to the Cardinals would clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs. The Packers have not lost at Lambeau Field this season.

The Vikings have the longest odds of the seven teams in the playoff picture after they lost to the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. They are now behind wild cards Arizona (10-5), who has clinched a spot, and San Francisco (8-7) and Philadelphia (8-7).

The Vikings close the regular season at home against the Bears.