Cousins, too, has experienced his share of unsettled situations over a career during which he has often fought skepticism toward his ability to be a premier player.
This season, for both parties, there’s no question about who the starter will be. Cousins arrived less than five months ago, and he has yet to take a snap for the Vikings that counts. Still, they’ve already anointed him their team leader.
”At some point you have to be given a license to lead to lead. You have to be given permission to take charge, and when you’re still having internal competition it’s hard to do that,” Cousins said. ”I’ve been in those situations in the past.”
Not only in Washington, where he played his first six years as a pro, but in the early part of his time in college at Michigan State.
”It was hard to really assert my personality in the locker room, because I didn’t want to step on the toes of the other people,” Cousins said.
”So that’s something
With a fully guaranteed $84 million contract over the next three years, the Vikings will be steered by Cousins through at least 2020 even with a roster stacked with stars at several positions. If all goes well, the marriage would last until he decides to leave the game.
”If there’s a quarterback competition, you don’t have one, OK?” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. ”I’ve been at spots before wh ere there is quarterback competition and you’re worried, because neither guy is really stepping in front of the other one.”
Daunte Culpepper, whose career was derailed in the 2005 season by a massive knee injury, was the last sustained starting quarterback for the Vikings.
None of the successors, as successful as they might have been, stayed longer than two years. Teddy Bridgewater was on his way to solving the problem, until he hurt his knee even worse than Culpepper.
Sam Bradford was an exceptional fill-in, but then he was hurt and replaced by Case Keenum. Despite his hand in helping the Vikings reach the NFC championship game
So now the offense has been turned over to Cousins, who has found himself the center of attention more quickly than he anticipated.
”I was surprised by how much my teammates gave me that license to lead quickly. I thought they were going to want to have me prove myself a little bit longer than maybe I had to,” Cousins said. ”They were very supportive and said, `No, man. It’s your show. Let’s go.”’
The first two days of training camp have been primarily for rookies and other players either relatively inexperienced or recovering from injuries, but Cousins has taken part along with all the other quarterbacks.
Running back Dalvin Cook has shed his knee brace, declaring himself fully past the ACL injury that ended his rookie season early. Cornerback and kickoff returner Mike Hughes is the first-round draft pick. Cousins, of course, has the biggest share of the spotlight, as he will for as long as he’s putting on a purple jersey.
”We exude that confidence in Kirk,” DeFilippo said. ”I think he exudes that confidence in us, and we’re really looking forward to him playing well this year and leading our football team.”
HOUSTON — It was yet another example of what the Houston Astros look like when their lineup depth flashes, their fourth win in their final at-bat this season offering a glimpse of potential even when everything didn’t quite fall into place.
As the Astros (51-27) near the halfway point of the schedule on Sunday against the Kansas City Royals
They were handcuffed by a scuffling pitcher for seven innings before the bottom third of their order helped complete a game-tying rally in the ninth.
And, while Houston failed to walk it off in the 11th, the bottom third of its order generated just enough traffic for the heavy hitters to come to bat in the 12th and secure the 4-3 victory.
Designated hitter Evan Gattis, batting seventh, produced the game-tying RBI with his sacrifice fly in the ninth inning following an 0-for-3 start to his evening. Marwin Gonzalez, batting eighth, walked in both of his final two plate appearances after recording three strikeouts against Royals starter Ian Kennedy. By churning out quality plate appearances, the job was easier up top.
“We’re at our best when those guys are doing something at the bottom,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “That takes a lot of pressure off the top of the order or the middle of the order to have to do it every time. That’s why we think we have a complete team.”
Right-hander Gerrit Cole (8-1, 2.59 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros in the rubber match. Cole did not factor into the decision in his last start, a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, after allowing four runs on three hits and five walks with eight strikeouts over seven innings.
He made his lone start against the Royals on July 21, 2015
Right-hander Jason Hammel (2-8, 4.88 ERA) gets the starting nod for the Royals. Hammel is 2-2 with a 2.85 ERA over nine career appearances (eight starts) against the Astros, including a 1.74 ERA over his last three starts. He hasn’t pitched at Minute Maid Park since 2014.
Hammel, who issued a season-high four walks in his previous outing, has issued two or fewer walks in 11 of 15 appearances this season and is tied for fifth in the American League with 37 starts with two or fewer walks since the start of 2017. His four walks against the Texas Rangers snapped a 37-start streak of walking three or few batters dating back to May 29, 2017.
After delivering at the plate and in the field for the Royals (23-53) in the opener, right fielder Rosell Herrera had a quiet night on Saturday, going 0-for-4 with a walk. Claimed off waivers from Cincinnati on June 2, Herrera was recalled from Triple-A Omaha last Sunday and has worked to show the defensive range and offensive versatility that could make him an asset as the Royals take extended looks at some of the younger players on their major league roster.
“He’s athletic, he’s fast,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Herrera. “He seems to swing the bat OK from both sides. It’s only been a week. There’s a lot to like looking at him on a short look.”