Kirk Cousins Plans To Be Ready For Otas In The Spring After Achilles

FILE - Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, left, talks with head coach Kevin O'Connell before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Vikings face a crucial decision on whether or not to re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins. They have the 11th pick in a draft that features a solid crop of quarterback prospects. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn, File)
FILE - Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, left, talks with head coach Kevin O'Connell before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Vikings face a crucial decision on whether or not to re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins. They have the 11th pick in a draft that features a solid crop of quarterback prospects. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn, File)
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Kirk Cousins plans to be ready to return for practice in the spring wherever he ends up playing next season.

Cousins continues progressing from a torn Achilles tendon that ended his season after eight games. He’s set to become a free agent following six years with the Minnesota Vikings but the team wants him back and the feeling is mutual.

“My expectation is that I’ll be able to practice during OTAs as normal,” Cousins told the AP on Wednesday. “But the question will be, is it worth it? And so you have to weigh that a little bit. But my goal would be that I’m saying I can go and you guys are going to have to stop me because I feel that good. If I’m not allowed into the full-team drills, I know I can do basically a full-speed practice on the field next to it is pretty much my goal.

"But 7-on-7, there’s nobody around you. It’s a safe drill. So at a minimum, I would think that’s a drill that, as a pocket-passing quarterback, would be very doable. And that’s kind of the beauty of the Achilles injury is that you can get back and you can get going again in a way that isn’t as crippling as if it was a back injury or something that’s a little more critical, like your shoulder or your elbow.”

Cousins called his recovery “a real positive process” and said the healing is on track. He spoke with Aaron Rodgers prior to having surgery. Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon in the first quarter of the first game and was able to return to practice just 77 days later but he wasn’t cleared to play and the New York Jets were out of the playoff race anyway.

“He obviously kind of blazed the trail with being able to get back on the practice field so quickly and kind of set a high bar,” Cousins said. “I think he’s given me and a lot of people who have torn their Achilles a lot of hope and encouragement that it can be a quick return and you can be back to your old self without really too much lost time. Hopefully both of us are playing next year and we don’t even remember that we tore it a year ago.”

Cousins threw for 2,331 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions, finishing third in the NFL in passer rating (103.8). He led the Vikings to a 4-4 record before he was injured. The team went 3-6 with Joshua Dobbs, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall starting in his place.

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah already said he wants Cousins to return and plans to offer him a new contract. Coach Kevin O’Connell and star wide receiver Justin Jefferson also made it clear they want Cousins in purple and gold.

“I appreciate their support, and the feelings are mutual in terms of being so grateful that I’ve gotten to play with Justin and been coached by the great coaches I’ve had,” Cousins said. “So, it goes both ways. And, I think that’s part of the feeling in Minnesota for a while has been we have a good locker room and we all really enjoy the group we have and the work we’ve done together.”

Cousins, who turns 36 before next season, can’t be franchise-tagged. He said winning will be his priority as he determines his future.

“That will kind of always be the priority but what’s interesting is how unpredictable winning can be,” he said. “There are teams every year that you think should be in the Super Bowl, and they don’t even make the playoffs. And then there’s teams that you think had no business making the playoffs and they’re making it to the second or third round.”

Cousins, a favorite among fans and teammates, has been showing a fun side to his personality in recent years from going shirtless with a thick gold chain around his neck to singing a duet with Kelly Clarkson in a tribute to Tom Brady at the “NFL Honors” show last year.

Now, Cousins is swapping his helmet for a chef’s hat, partnering with Tostitos to give fans a chance to win a Super Bowl experience that includes tickets to the game and and a VIP reservation at Tost by Tostitos with tableside service by the four-time Pro Bowl QB.

“I’ll be showing up to prepare and serve the food at the restaurant, so it should be a lot of fun,” Cousins said.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl