Kirk Cousins arrived to training camp on Tuesday – a couple of days before he needed to – and he says every indication is that this year's Vikings are as real deal as they get.
He's not guaranteeing a perfect season by any means, but he says the roster is loaded with guys who love football and have a burning passion to win.
"There are people in this league who love what football brings them, but they don't really love football. We got a lot of guys on this team who love football, regardless of what it brings them," Cousins said during his pre-camp press conference on Wednesday. "That's obviously fun to work with and play with."
Cousins spent the past month training his arm and mind by throwing and studying the playbook to the point where he says the "terminology is starting to become my first language."
It's progress that he believes has given him the "license to lead."
"I was surprised by how much my teammates gave me that license to lead quickly. They were very supportive and said, 'hey man, it's your show, let's go.'"
Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings but he says his paycheck doesn't mean his teammates will automatically respect his leadership.
"It certainly gives an indication, but the amount of money you make doesn't give people desire to suddenly follow you," he said. "I played on a team where I made league minimum and was the starting quarterback, too. You better believe that I gotta command and have a presence about me that guys want to follow, regardless of what my contract says.
"If you're a fake, your contract is not going to help you. You gotta be the real deal no matter what."
Believe it or not, the Vikings and Cousins will take the field for preseason game No. 1 in just 16 days (Aug. 11 at Denver).