MINNEAPOLIS — Jake Browning was the only Vikings quarterback available for Saturday's annual night practice at TCO Stadium, after the other three quarterbacks were forced to quarantine due to the league's COVID-19 protocols.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins was deemed a high-risk close contact to an infected player, according to a league source, and that player is reportedly fellow quarterback Kellen Mond. Backup Nate Stanely has also been quarantined, according to NFL Media. The Vikings announced Saturday that "multiple players" were going to be held out due to COVID-19 protocols.
Because Browning was vaccinated, according to coach Mike Zimmer, he's available to practice; league rules don't require vaccinated players to isolate if they're close contacts with an infected person. Zimmer expressed disappointment Saturday before practice, saying, "it's why people should get vaccinated."
"Quite honestly, after everything we went through last year, I'm not surprised one bit," Zimmer said. "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]. We'll just do the best we can."
Mond is vaccinated, according to two league sources, and if his positive case is asymptomatic, he can return as quickly as 48 hours with two negative tests taken a day apart. Because Cousins is isolated as a close contact, that means he is unvaccinated and subject to a five-day quarantine.
As a high-risk close contact, Cousins can return Thursday at the earliest. The Vikings' first practice with pads is Monday. The team is scheduled to practice every day this week, when Browning may still be one of the only passers available.
"They'll have to go virtual until they're admitted back in the building," Zimmer said of the three quarantined quarterbacks.
Browning, the third-year undrafted quarterback out of Washington, will get every pass during Saturday night's practice — and likely more work this week — in his bid for a backup job.
"Jake's really smart. He's vaccinated," Zimmer said. "That helps to be the backup. So, as we move forward here, he's going to get a ton of reps [Saturday night]. I don't go about saying, 'It's going to go a long way,' because we've still got a lot of camp to go, but we'll see. He's out there. He's available. That's important. It's important to be available when you're playing football, a team sport."
Zimmer has implored Vikings players to get vaccinated since they reported to the team's Eagan headquarters this spring. He declined to say how much of the locker room is vaccinated. He was asked if this could be a wake-up call for unvaccinated players.
"How do you know?" Zimmer said. "Some guys are pretty staunch."
The NFL announced Thursday that nearly 88% of players have received at least one dose and 19 teams are over a 90% vaccination rate.
"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. "This Delta variant is rough. You can see the cases going up every single day now. That's why, for the sake of everybody's health, I think it's important. But some people don't understand, I guess."©2021 StarTribune. Visit at startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.