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Packers expecting Minnesota's best despite loss of Kirk Cousins

Seventh-year veteran Sean Mannion will start for Vikings at QB Sunday night

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – The Minnesota Vikings will be without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins this Sunday at Lambeau Field after Cousins was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer confirmed seventh-year veteran Sean Mannion will start in Cousins' stead against Green Bay. Rookie Kellen Mond will serve as Mannion's backup.

Cousins is closing in on his third straight season with a 100 or better passer rating. In 15 starts, he's completed 358-of-539 (66.4%) for 3,971 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven INTs. His 101.3 passer rating currently ranks fourth in the NFL.

"It's unfortunate, obviously," said Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur, who previously coached Cousins in Washington. "First, hope he's feeling OK. He's a heck of a competitor and he's had a great year for them and a great career up to this point, so certainly he will be missed I know on their sideline. But I don't think it changes the way we prepare. Still preparing the same way as we would if he were playing."

LaFleur actually coached Mannion, too, during his lone season as the offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 and is still expecting the Vikings' best effort Sunday night at Lambeau Field.

Mannion, who was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, spent his first four seasons with the Rams before serving as Cousins' backup in 2019-20. He signed with Seattle in the offseason before returning on the Vikings' practice squad in September.

In 11 career games with two starts, Mannion has completed 45-of-74 passes (60.8%) for 384 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions (57.5 passer rating).

Mannion still has a bevy of weapons at his disposal with running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison likely seeing a large workload during single-digit temperatures Sunday night. Minnesota also is without starting receiver Adam Thielen, who went on injured reserve this past week.

"Sean's been doing it for a long time. He's been in this league for a while now," LaFleur said. "When we played the Vikings in Lambeau on that windy day (last year), I think they only threw the ball 14 times.

"There's just so many weapons that they have, obviously the two backs – Cook and Mattison – but then you look at (Justin) Jefferson, (K.J.) Osborn, Tyler Conklin's having a great year. So our defense will have their work cut out for them."

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