Jake Browning was left as the only quarterback still standing for the Minnesota Vikings over the weekend when COVID-19 protocols required the team’s other three quarterbacks to be unavailable.
While the situation has irked head coach Mike Zimmer considerably, Browning looked to seize the opportunity it created for himself to show what he can do after two years on the team’s practice squad.
“I think that’s part of being a back-up in this league, you’ve always got to be ready. I’ve been preparing like that for two years, so the opportunity presented itself. I felt like I was ready,” Browning said, via Jeff Wald of FOX9. “Gary Kubiak used to say nobody knows if you’re ready until you just get thrown in there. Try and make the most of those reps and really just take it one day at a time.”
Browning was a high school star and had a strong career at the University of Washington. However, he’s a tad undersized and his arm strength was somewhat lacking when being evaluated for the pro game. Browning went undrafted and has stuck around with the Vikings for two years on their practice squad.
Browning took every snap in practice on Saturday with Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley all unavailable. He did his best to rise to the occasion, having a strong practice for the team and putting himself in the running to earn the team’s backup job.
“He did really well,” head coach Mike Zimmer said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. “I thought the offensive guys rallied behind him, doing their best to help him in a lot of situations. He took every play.”
The Broncos had to start wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback last year when positive cases in their quarterback room left them without an actual quarterback able to play. Zimmer and the Vikings won’t want to find themselves in a similar situation this year when a positive surfaces just days before a game.
Browning was the only quarterback on the team’s roster that had been vaccinated, which gave him the opportunity to lead the team over the weekend. The fact he will continue to be available if another positive case close to the team’s quarterbacks should occur, makes him a more valuable asset.
Browning seemed to show he’s a real candidate for the job from a football standpoint as well. He’ll continue to get the chance to show it until the rest of the team’s quarterbacks can return.
“Someone in my situation, as an undrafted guy that’s been on the practice squad, those reps are really valuable,” he said.