For anyone wondering how the NFL has created a competitive advantage for teams with a high vaccination rate and for vaccinated players, the Vikings have provided the example.
Vikings rookie quarterback Kellen Mond tested positive for COVID-19, sidelining starter Kirk Cousins and backup Nate Stanley as high-risk close contacts, Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports. That has left Jake Browning as the team’s only quarterback available to practice tonight.
“Something like this happens the day before a game with a chance to get into the playoffs?” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wondered aloud, via Chris Long of KSTP TV.
Zimmer did not try to hide his frustration with unvaccinated players, though he declined to talk about specific names in regard to Saturday’s developments.
“Quite honestly, after everything we went through last year, I’m not surprised one bit,” Zimmer said, via Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. “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].”
High-risk close contacts must isolate five days. Fully vaccinated players do not need to isolate after exposure. Browning is vaccinated.
“He’s out there. He’s available,” Zimmer said of Browning, via the team’s official Twitter account. “That’s important. It’s important to be available in a team sport.”
Zimmer said the Vikings will consider quarantining a quarterback in the future. The Broncos, of course, played a game without a quarterback last season because of COVID-19 protocols, leaving practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton to start at quarterback.
“This Delta variant is tough, and you can see the cases going up,” Zimmer said. “For the sake of everybody, it’s important, but some don’t see it that way.”
Zimmer said he never considered calling off tonight’s practice despite having only one quarterback available. He would not say how many other players are out because of COVID-19 contact tracing.