When the Vikings signed Mannion last Thursday to the practice squad, it gave them two quarterbacks to battle for the backup job behind Kirk Cousins. Mond, who is on the 53-man roster, will compete with Mannion, who was Cousins’ backup the past two seasons.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Mond said. “For somebody like Sean, who already knows the playbook, although he probably needs just a refresher, I think we have three guys who know the playbook who can play. There’s two veterans, and probably three guys who all think differently, who can all come together and really just help Kirk and help the offense any way possible.”
Even though Mannion is on the practice squad, he could start emerge as the backup. Practice-squad players can be elevated for games up to two times during the season without a roster move being made, and they also can be potential replacements if a player is on the COVID-19 reserve list. If Mannion ends up running out of elevations, the Vikings would need to move him to the 53-man roster if they want him available for any more games.
The Vikings open the regular season next Sunday at Cincinnati, The Vikings will have to decide by Saturday afternoon whether to elevate Mannion for that game.
“We’ll talk about that as coaches, but I feel like any one of those three (quarterbacks) can play for us,’’ said offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak.
Mond missed 10 days of training camp starting on July 31 when he tested positive for coronavirus, and both he and Kubiak didn’t deny that it set him back. Mond looked rusty in the first two preseason games, completing 12 of 28 passes for 114 yards against Denver on Aug. 14 and Indianapolis on Aug. 21.
But Mond looked much better playing the second half of the preseason finale, a 28-25 loss at Kansas City on Aug. 27. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 196 yards with an interception and led the Vikings to their only two offensive touchdowns of the preseason.
“I felt I ended off really strong,’’ Mond said of the preseason. “I think our goal going into (that game) was able to win and stay consistent on first and second down, convert on third down and most importantly put points on the board in the red zone, and we were able to to that.’’
Shortly after that game, the Vikings waived quarterback Jake Browning, who struggled throughout the preseason, and Nate Stanley, who did not play in any exhibitions, was waived with an injury designation. That got them down to two quarterbacks before Mannion was brought back.
So does Mond, a third-round pick out of Texas A&M, believe he is ready to potentially be the backup to Cousins in the opener against the Bengals?
“Yeah,’’ he said. “I feel good. I feel confident.’’
If Mond gets into a game this season, he would become the first rookie quarterback to play for Mike Zimmer since the head coach’s first Minnesota season in 2014. That year, first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater took over as the starter in Week 4 after Matt Cassel suffered a broken foot, ending his season.
The Vikings are hoping they won’t have to use a backup this season. But the unvaccinated Cousins was on the COVID-19 reserve list for five days in training camp when he was deemed a high-risk close contact to Mond.
Cousins, though, has been durable. He hasn’t missed a game due to injury since taking over as Washington’s starter in 2015 and then signing with Minnesota in 2018. The only Vikings game Cousins hasn’t played in was the 2019 regular-season finale against Chicago, when they had a playoff spot locked up and Mannion took the field for the only time in the past two years.
Mannion, who went through his first practice with the Vikings on Thursday before players were off until Monday, said he’s “just taking it one day at a time” who will be the backup. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to working with Mond.
“He seems like a great guy, and I’m excited to get to know him,’’ Mannion said. “In terms of football, I just know him from reputation, and obviously he had an awesome career at A&M.”
A source said the Vikings have reached an injury settlement with safety Luther Kirk, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Chiefs and was waived last Tuesday with an injury designation and reverted to injured reserve.
Kirk can be waived off injured reserve, and he will receive a payment for the first four weeks of the season. He would be eligible to join the Vikings practice squad three weeks after that, so he potentially could return as soon as in October.