Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and will be held out of team-related activities until at least Tuesday.
Coach Kevin O'Connell said Friday that Cousins has "very minimal symptoms" and will not travel to Las Vegas for the team's preseason opener on Sunday against the Raiders. While players are not subject to daily testing this season, updated NFL policy requires anyone who tests positive to be quarantined away from the team for at least five days.
"He's feeling pretty darn good and very limited symptoms," O'Connell said. "He's wearing me out about the install this morning and the plan for Sunday. Unfortunately, he will not make the trip. We're going to let him rest up and get ready to go. He should, by the protocol standard, be back Tuesday morning, ready to roll for our 49ers practices."
Cousins, who previously tested positive on Dec. 31 and missed last year's game in Green Bay while following protocols for unvaccinated players, reported symptoms to the team on Thursday and was sent home. O'Connell said he wanted to wait until confirming Cousins' positive results via rapid tests before announcing it.
"We've had a few false kind of positives off those initial rapid tests," O'Connell said. "He was able to take a couple PCRs and we confirmed that."
O'Connell, a former NFL backup quarterback, wouldn't tip his hand about who is starting against the Raiders between quarterbacks Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond. He did say they're expected to get a "50-50" split of the reps against the Raiders as they compete for the backup job to Cousins this season.
"I've been that guy before where you're told it's going to be 50-50 and you're looking up at the clock and doing the math in your head," O'Connell said. "Having gone through that experience myself, I'll try to be as aware as possible. But if a guy gets hot, starts feeling maybe he should take one more or a two-minute [drill] or something like that, we'll always adapt. But we'll have plenty of snaps to make it right through these next three games."
Making takeaways 'second nature'
Linebacker Jordan Hicks, the ex-Cardinals veteran who signed with the Vikings in free agency, has amassed three takeaways during training camp, including an interception off Cousins during Wednesday's practice. Hicks undercut a route by receiver K.J. Osborn, fulfilling an emphasis by coordinator Ed Donatell and the new defensive coaching staff.
"Going into the season, we've been told it's going to be in the front of the mind," Hicks said, referring to takeaways. "We keep track of it every day and I think as long as you're practicing on the field and putting yourself in stressful situations where you can attack ... it will become second nature."
Who's playing Sunday?
Offensive coordinator Wes Phillips also wouldn't show his cards on whether starters would play Sunday against the Raiders. The Rams, O'Connell's and Phillips' former team, sat starters in last year's exhibition opener.
"There will certainly be guys that will get more than others," Phillips said. "What we've told these guys is you have to prepare as if you're playing. It's a recipe for disaster if you get guys that go in there and say, 'Hey, I'm going to get my five plays and then I'm going to get out of here,' and they're playing timid."