Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon

Cousins will have surgery on a to-be-determined date, the Vikings said. No recovery timetable was announced, but it’s typically at least a six-month process for returning to full strength.

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Quarterback Kirk Cousins has a torn right Achilles tendon that will end his season, the Minnesota Vikings announced on Monday.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has a torn right Achilles tendon that will end his season, the Minnesota Vikings announced on Monday.

Matt Ludtke)/AP

EAGAN, Minn. — Kirk Cousins has a torn right Achilles tendon that will end his season, the Minnesota Vikings announced on Monday after his first career injury put a somber tone on their three-game winning streak.

The Vikings announced that the MRI exam on Cousins confirmed their initial fear of a tear after the 12th-year quarterback went down in pain in the fourth quarter at Green Bay on Sunday after planting his foot in the grass to try to avoid a sack. He quickly limped off the field, unable to put weight on his right leg.

Rookie Jaren Hall took over from there, as the Vikings (4-4) held on to beat the Packers 24-10 and climb above the cut for the playoffs after an 0-3 start. Staying there will be far more challenging without Cousins, their ever-ready leader who’s suddenly and stunningly unavailable to play.

Cousins will have surgery on a to-be-determined date, the Vikings said. No recovery timetable was announced, but it’s typically at least a six-month process for returning to full strength. New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has raised the possibility of returning yet this season from his torn left Achilles tendon, but after getting hurt in the opener he’s nearly two months ahead of Cousins on rehab.

Cousins, who is on track to be a free agent next spring, has never missed a game in the NFL to injury. He has gone to great lengths to keep himself as healthy as possible, realizing the car-crash nature of his position while trying to extend his career as long as he can.

His appearance on the Netflix documentary “Quarterback,” that shadowed him, Patrick Mahomes and Marcus Mariota throughout the 2022 season endeared him to a broader audience with the up-close look at his willingness to take those punishing hits for his team and work arduously each week to prepare his mind and body for the next game.

The beginning of the show started with him at home reading a children’s book about football to his youngest son, Turner. The opening lines of the book that Cousins read to his son included this foreboding passage: “An injury to the quarterback can sink a team’s entire season.”

Now the Vikings are about to find out if it will or not.

The late-blooming overachiever who was an afterthought recruit at Michigan State and a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, Cousins became the full-time starter with Washington in his fourth season and signed an unprecedented fully guaranteed contract with Minnesota in 2018 after he hit the open market.

Cousins has had his well-publicized share of ups and downs, with only one career win in a playoff game, but even at age 35 he’s continued to ascend as a passer in coach Kevin O’Connell’s complicated system. His completion rate (69.5 percent) is the third best of his career and fifth in the league in 2023. He’s tied for the NFL lead in touchdown passes (18), second in passing yards (2,331) and third in passer rating (103.8).

Over the three games since superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson was sidelined by a hamstring injury, Cousins went 79 for 107 (73.8%) for 833 yards and five touchdowns with four sacks and two turnovers.

“It breaks my heart. That guy is the leader of the team. He’s the heart and soul of the team,” Hall said.

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