What They Said: O’Connell, Cousins, Hockenson Speak Prior to Vikings vs Chargers

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Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Minnesota Vikings will take the field at US Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon vs the Los Angeles Chargers, in a matchup between two winless playoff hopefuls. On Wednesday, Vikings players met with media to preview the matchup and answer questions from reporters.

Kevin O’Connell speaks with media prior to Vikings vs Chargers:

Vikings head coach, Kevin O’Connell, touched on the team’s transaction report mid-week, as part of his opening statement. He mentioned Oli Udoh landing on injured reserve and the addition of offensive guard, Dalton Risner, who he hopes to get up to speed ASAP.

Opening Statement: “It’s a very important week for our team. [I’m] very thankful to be back at home, in front of our fans, as we take on a really good football team, a really well-coached football team. Brandon does a great job, and with Kellen Moore now as his coordinator on offense, you can see on tape a lot of things that they’re doing that are causing people a lot of problems. [The Chargers] are a really talented team so we’re gonna need a great effort from our team. We’re already off to a great start, prep-wise, having Monday being a bonus day that we got a little bit of a head start. Got our players some rest, this past weekend, so we’ll continue that preparation, but our team’s locked in right now. We know we have not played our best overall football yet and that needs to be out in front of us very soon.”

On Risner: “We did sign, as you guys know, Dalton Risner, who we will attempt to get up to speed, as fast as possible, and see how he progresses. The guys he’s stepping on the practice field with have been playing football for the better part of two months, now. I know he’s in shape, he’s in great shape, and he’s very excited to be here; as we are to have him. So we’ll see how he progresses day-to-day and kind of getting caught up. We don’t have a lot of similar things in our offense, from his time in Denver, even though we do have some coaches with some relationships with him, which I know played a big part in [him landing here].”

Related: Dalton Risner Does Not Expect to Start for Vikings vs Chargers

Kirk Cousins Speaks with media prior to Minnesota Vikings vs Los Angeles Chargers:

Kirk Cousins wore an Alexander Mattison “I Am Gifted” Foundation hat as he talked about his wife’s excitement over certain QB matchups around the NFL while answering questions surrounding everything from his focuses in week 3 and his matchup vs Justin Herbert to his appreciation for superstar wide receiver, Justin Jefferson.

Opening Statement: “Umm, another great football team coming in here, great challenge for us, gotta get on track, you know, tough start. We dug ourselves a hole and now we gotta dig ourselves out. Uh… A lot of football up ahead and gotta take it one day at a time, as the old cliche would say.”

Reporter: “You lose two close games and you’re 0-2 and you have seven turnovers… Does that make you feel better about your team, or worse?”

Cousins: “I don’t know… I know, uh, that’s kind of the message, right? You know, we’re 0-2, we’re -6 in turnover margin. If you had told me, after two weeks, we’d be -6, I would tell you we’d be 0-2. So, we don’t really have to look at much else. That pretty much tells the story. That being said, um, we’re in those games, it’s come down to the last couple plays and there’s something encouraging to take from that. But only so much, you know, at some point the bottom line is, you gotta win.”

Related: Kirk Cousins Lost His Mind on Sideline After Interception vs Bucs

Reporter: “Do you know Justin Herbert at all and even if not, what do you think about his game?”

Cousins: “I’ve only crossed paths with him playing [against] the Chargers and at the Pro Bowl. [Herbert is] fun to watch. There’s guys that, maybe, my wife, I’ll come home from work on a Thursday and there’s a Thursday night game or Sunday night game let’s say after a game and she’ll say, ‘oh it’s Rodgers versus Brady, this will be a good one tonight’ and I’m like, ‘well, it’s the Packers versus the Patriots, but I hear what you’re saying’ and Herbert ‘s one of those guys where you kind of say, ‘oh, he’s playing tonight that’ll be fun’. You know you’ll get to see great great arm talent and ability and explosive offense. And you know that his skill guys, they know the ball could be coming their way anytime and and that’s the kind of quarterback you wanna be. I think we (the Vikings) take pride as an explosive group that can make a lot of plays, anybody can help us. And I think the Chargers have been that way as well.”

Reporter: “What do you have to do to get more out of the run game?”

Cousins: “You know, we can’t be down 27-7. If we could be up 27-7, I think we’ll get more from our running game. And guess what that goes back to? Turnovers. So, if we can protect the football we’ll be in a much better position to do a lot of different things. We talk about situational football, right, so third down, red zone, two minute… Well, if you look at those phases of football, we’d be a lot better if we hadn’t turned the ball over in those phases of football. We had a 3rd down turnover, a red zone interception, a two-minute interception… So, it all kind of goes back to the same thing and it’s fixable, which goes back to having hope, you know? And it’s fixable. There’s times you sit there and you go, ‘this issue isn’t fixable’ and that’s not a good feeling. But in this case, you say, ‘hey, we can fix this’. But it remains to be seen if we will. We gotta go do it.”

Reporter: With Justin Jefferson and the numbers he’s put up so far; he’s only had to make a couple of spectacular catches. What’s allowed him to have opportunities, despite the fact that everybody knows the ball’s gonna go to him?

Cousins: “Yeah, I think that’s coaches. I think that’s, you know, their game plans, their schemes, moving [Jefferson] around, [the] route trees, giving him enough of a route tree where it’s difficult to defend. And then, it’s obviously ability, right? I mean, at some point, he’s gotta go make a play and he made some catches the other night. I will always say, among many traits, that the trait that I think might be his best is, he’s pretty fearless, you know? He catches the ball and people are all around him and there’s a lot of, you know… guys get alligator arms and they hear footsteps and that’s just not him. He just runs through it. You know [with] how good he is, I’m not trying to put him in those positions where he’s getting hit and having to hear footsteps a lot. But when he does, he tends to make the play, hold on to the ball; and that’s a great thing to see. As I told him, after the game, I told him on a couple plays, you know, they’re great plays and he said, ‘hey man, you put the ball there, it’s my job to go catch it’, so he also sets a high standard for himself. That, ‘if it’s in my general area, shame on me if I don’t catch it’.”

Related: Check out the rest of our Vikings blogs

TJ Hockenson Speaks with media prior to Vikings vs Chargers:

Reporter: “What does the addition of Risner do for the offensive line and the run game?”

Hockenson: “I mean, yeah, we’ll see, you know? I was in his position last year, you know, coming in and trying to learn everything, so it’s one of those things, you gotta learn everything first. I mean, that’s the hard part about this league, about offenses. There’s a lot to learn in our offense, it’s pretty complex, and so, to be able to do that in a short time it’ll be a challenge for him. It’s great to have him in this locker room, you know, obviously. And, you know, we’ll see what he can do.”

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