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Kirk Cousins feels like "an eighth-grader studying for a quiz" in Kevin O’Connell’s offense

5/25/2022 7:47:35 PM
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As Kirk Cousins enters his 11th NFL season — fifth with the Vikings — he does so with yet another new offensive coaching staff and playbook that also requires him to learn another football language with which to communicate. This spring, the veteran has embraced being back in school under rookie head coach Kevin O'Connell, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

His homework involves flash cards, which help him study the Rams-like offense.

"Trying to memorize plays and terms and formations and protections," Cousins said. "You feel like an eighth-grader studying for a quiz in school the next day the way you go home each night and study."

Cousins has grown accustomed to change. O'Connell will be Cousins' seventh different play caller in as many seasons. The last coach to call plays for a Cousins-led offense in back-to-back seasons was then-Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay in 2015-16.

O'Connell was Washington's quarterbacks coach in 2017 and spent the past two seasons as McVay's offensive coordinator with the Rams, giving Cousins a tinge of familiarity with the Vikings' new approach. But the quarterback still described this offseason's workload as "learning it from scratch," having only needed to pull out the flash cards two or three times prior in his career.

"This is the first time really since 2014 when Jay Gruden was hired and then back in 2012 when I was a rookie coming from Michigan State to Kyle Shanahan's offense," Cousins said. "Those were the only other two times in my career where I truly felt like I was learning it from scratch. I guess you could also say coming here in 2018 as well."

Another change for Cousins is the atmosphere at work. Tensions were high, especially last year, as former General Manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer entered a must-win season to keep their jobs. In his opening remarks Tuesday, Cousins mentioned the "fun" of being at practice and learning from mistakes in a new offense.

He sidestepped questions about differences from the Zimmer regime, saying he has always felt a level of tension in wanting to play well.

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