Minnesota's late playoff push will not include its quarterback in Week 17.
Kirk Cousins has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced. Cousins, who is unvaccinated and tested positive for COVID-19, will miss the Vikings' game against the Green Bay Packers.
Backup Sean Mannion has been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list along with tackle Rashod Hill, according to the club. Mannion is expected to start in place of Cousins on Sunday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
For a moment Friday, it appeared as if we might end up seeing rookie Kellen Mond in regular-season action this weekend. Mannion had been on the reserve/COVID-19 list since Sunday, leaving Mond -- the apple of Minnesota's preseason eye -- as the top remaining backup. Former Vikings backup Kyle Sloter also made a return trip to Minnesota this week, signing with the team following Mannion's placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Instead of Mond, it will be Mannion, the veteran who spent most of his career as a backup with the Rams but appeared in three games with the Vikings back in the 2019 season.
"I think (the team is) going to rally behind Sean," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters Friday. "They know how important this game is. They believe in Sean."
Mannion will be tasked with leading an offense that currently ranks ninth in total offense and passing, fourth in big plays and third in turnovers this season. While Cousins doesn't usually get the respect his production deserves, Minnesota has been able to put points on the board thanks to the efforts made by Cousins and teammates Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen, among others. It will be up to Mannion to attempt to replace Cousins in what amounts to a must-win game Sunday against the Packers, the NFC's current top seed.
Minnesota defeated Green Bay in their first meeting this season, 34-31, in Week 11, but the Packers haven't lost a game since then, rattling off four straight wins in the last five weeks. The Vikings, meanwhile, have lost three of their last five, narrowing their window to enter the playoffs.
At 7-8, Minnesota is currently the first team on the outside looking into the NFC playoff picture. The Vikings trail the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers by one game in the standings with two to play, meaning they'll have to win out and hope for some help if they want to secure a wild-card berth.
The task now falls on the shoulders of Mannion to attempt to secure a season sweep of the rival Packers. Their playoff lives depend upon it.