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Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins expects to be 'full speed' by training camp

Atlanta's new quarterback tore his Achilles tendon in Week 8 of the 2023 season.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The only receiver quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a pass to in Week 9 of the 2023 season was his son, and Cousins did so from the comfort of his own couch, with his right leg propped up in a purple cast.

Rewind seven days from that home-video moment, Cousins tore his Achilles tendon in the Minnesota Vikings' win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 8 of the 2023 season. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve less than 48 hours later. And then, that following Sunday, the Vikings defeated the Atlanta Falcons without Cousins in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Fast forward to Wednesday, now back in Atlanta, and Cousins was introduced as the Falcons' new quarterback, having officially signed his four-year deal as the new league year began.

Cousins' rehab isn't fully over, but the end is in sight.

"I'm optimistic that I can be full speed at practice before we break for the summer – and that's kind of the goal I've set for myself – but we do have a long runway," Cousins said during his introductory press conference after signing a four-year, $180 million contract with the Falcons Wednesday. "What I've been told, going back to when I first injured it, was that you don't rush it, you let time do its thing, and it's going to take time to fully heal that tissue. But as a competitor, you want to get back as fast as you can. Certainly, I'm trying to do that."

Apart from the surgically repaired Achilles, which was expected, Cousins passed his physical with the Falcons.

Cousins is 35 years old and about to embark on his 13th season in the NFL. He said the Achilles surgery was his first – ever – in his career, meaning the rehab process has also been a new endeavor for the veteran. He began the journey with the Vikings, continued with his personal trainer, Chad Cook, and will now wrap with the Falcons.

While he couldn't give a percentage of how healthy is at the moment, Cousins said progress has only trended in a positive direction.

"I do think that I can take drops. I can play the quarterback position, if you will, throwing the football," Cousins said. "I think the minute I would have to leave the pocket is where you would say, 'Yeah, he's still recovering from an Achilles.' But taking drops, making throws, that's really no problem at this point."

Prior to his injury, Cousins had led the Vikings to a 4-4 started. They finished 7-10, same as the Falcons. In those eight games, Cousins completed 216 of his 311 pass attempts for 2,331 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Cousins is a four-time Pro Bowl selection, most recently going back-to-back in 2021-22. The Falcons are his third team since getting picked by the Washington Commanders (then Redskins) in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft's. He spent six seasons with the Commanders and Vikings apiece. Cousins reportedly signed a four-year contract with the Falcons, and he said the idea of retiring in Atlanta appealed to him when considering the deal.

If all goes according to plan, the next time Cousins does suit up for action, it'll be with the Falcons rather than against – and he'll be at the center of the field, rather than behind a screen or on the bench like he was during the second half of the 2023 season.

"You have a different perspective (watching on TV), and I think that was healthy," Cousins said. "I think watching from the sideline the last three games of the season also did that. I think it makes me that much hungrier to get back and to be an even better player and leader when I'm back. Not that I took time for granted, but you certainly will appreciate it more now."

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