Kirk Cousins became an instant believer in the benefits of the virtual reality training technology the Vikings acquired from industry leader STRIVR back in 2015.

“I was blown away by it,” the quarterback said. “I found myself the first time just shaking my head and going, ‘Wow.’ It puts you right down inside the play, and you can hear the calls, which you can’t hear on regular coaches film.”

The move from Winter Park to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan enabled the Vikings to build a room specifically for virtual reality training. There are bigger screens for coaches to follow along and teach, as well as options to put down field turf or put up nets to throw into for an even more realistic feel.

Last year, quarterback Case Keenum watched over 3,000 snaps on virtual reality, according to Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. Running back Latavius Murray also used it to study blitz pickups. Defenders rarely use it, although cornerback Terence Newman found it useful for preparing himself against certain moves at the line of scrimmage.

“There was a play in OTAs where I thought Kyle Rudolph was covered,” Cousins said. “The coaches told me I should have thrown it to him because he’s got the ability to make that play even when he looks covered.

“I went back and watched it on virtual reality, and I could see what they were talking about. Watching the usual eye-in-the-sky film, I didn’t get the same vantage point. So getting that view in the pocket is amazingly helpful not only for the guys who don’t get a lot of practice reps, but for myself as well.”

Stories by Mark Craig