(WCCO) — Kirk Cousins has two full seasons under his belt leading the Minnesota Vikings. Despite some bumps in the road, Cousins settled into the starting quarterback role and became a team leader. He even made the Pro Bowl in 2019 for the first time in Minnesota.

After last season’s short playoff run, it’s easy to see how Cousins could lead these Vikings, with fewer injuries and some key positions filled, past the divisional round. That would mean beefing up the left side of the offensive line and adding a playmaking wide receiver to replace the departed Stefon Diggs. The Vikings will have an opportunity to add players in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Despite the coronavirus and the cessation of sports everywhere, improving on the Vikings’ 2019 season in 2020 remains a possibility as well. The NFL has shifted to a virtual offseason but is still planning to kickoff the regular season in early September. While all in-season sports leagues remain on hiatus, the PGA Tour has started to pencil in new dates for events and MLB is figuring out if isolated Cactus and Grapefruit leagues are feasible. Maybe the NFL will change its plans with the official release of the 2020 schedule on May 9, or maybe they won’t. The one relative luxury they have now is time.

Another option is playing games without fans in the stands. “Honestly, we practice every day in an empty grass area and pump in fake crowd noise for away games,” Cousins pointed out on a recent media call. “But more often than not, you’re used to it. OTA practices don’t have a lot of pomp and circumstance to them. So honestly, to go out and just play the game would kind of be refreshing, a breath of fresh air, to just let us know that we don’t have to have all the smoke and the fire.”

Fan-less games would obviously change the viewing experience for people at home. And a dialed-down level of excitement in the stadium would have to affect the game on the field. Players wouldn’t have the fans to tune out or feed off of. Communication between players and the with coaches would cease to be an issue. And who would catch a player jumping into the stands to celebrate a touchdown?

Cousins isn’t bothered by the possibilities. “We can just play football. So as long as we’re playing the game, I won’t have a lot of complaints, and hopefully if it’s still not returned to normal, we can find a way to make it work.”

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