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Vikings’ Kirk Cousins sees leadership as process. Kyle Rudolph says he’s already there.

The Vikings officially began spring workouts on April 16. New quarterback Kirk Cousins started his two weeks earlier.

Cousins signed a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings last month. He didn’t waste any time getting to know some of his new teammates, bringing wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to Atlanta to hang out in early April.

“Stef and Adam came down and spent a couple of days together, and I thought that was productive,” Cousins said Tuesday. “More than just the football. Just to get to know one another a little and build somewhat of a foundation before we started with the whole crew.”

Since showing up in Minnesota, Cousins has begun to feel even more comfortable.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” he said. “It’s a dream come true to have this opportunity. I really enjoy the locker room, the coaches, the facility, the city, the people here. I’m driving home from work every day with a smile on my face excited to get back to work the next day.”

Vikings players can’t work with coaches on the field until next week at the TCO Performance Center in Eagan, but Cousins has been able to spend plenty of time with his new teammates. He called it a “process” becoming a team leader, acknowledging it can’t be “forced.”

“You understand that the very first day, you’re more like the rookie, and that’s OK,” Cousins said. “We’re building. … It’s just constant development and building and taking steps as a player, as a leader.”

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, though, already sees Cousins commanding respect.

“He’s a great leader,” Rudolph said. “You can just see that kind of naturally he has that aura about him.”

Cousins threw for more than 25 touchdowns and 4,000 yards in each of the past three seasons with the Washington Redskins. His average annual salary of $28 million with the Vikings is the highest in NFL history.

Since Cousins arrived in Minnesota for the start of spring drills, he doesn’t deny there’s been plenty of commotion when he’s spotted in public. He spoke Tuesday about running into a Vikings fan Monday outside a strip mall in Eden Prairie.

“A young man finishing his work day kind of did the big eyes and kind of put two and two together and then walked over and asked if I was who he thought I was,” Cousins said. “I said, ‘I try to be.’ So we took a photo and that kind of a thing.

“That’s part of playing in the NFL, and it’s a fun deal to see fans excited like that. I’ve just got to keep them smiling. They’re dying to cheer for us. We’ve got to give them something to cheer about.”


    Source: Twin Cities Pioneer Press | Chris Tomasson | April 24, 2018