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Kirk Cousins had undisclosed rib injury prior to the November 2022 win over the Bills

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The excellent Quarterback series on Netflix devotes an entire episode to the bumps and bruises that go along with playing the most important in pro football. Titled Kings of Pain, the third installment discloses some injury information about Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins that never made it to the official injury report.

Before the Vikings faced Buffalo in Week 10, the biggest question regarding quarterback health related to Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who had suffered an elbow injury against the Jets. But Cousins also took a big hit on that same day, against the Commanders.

In converting a critical third-down pass during a come-from-behind win over in his first game at FedEx Field since leaving Washington, Cousins got rid of the ball to receiver Justin Jefferson, just before taking a big hit from defensive lineman Daron Payne. At the time, Cousins said he merely had the wind knocked out of him. In time, it became clear that Cousins had suffered some sort of rib injury.

On the Wednesday before the Bulls game, Cousins said while running pre-practice drills, "Everything hurts."

"I'm pretty beat up," Cousins explains to the camera in the next scene. "The bruises on my ribs on both sides are not visible. They may come to the surface at some point. When you have pain right here in your midsection, it's just kind of hard to think about much else."

Cousins is then shown in the training room getting treatment for his injured midsection. "I try to be in here as little as possible," Cousins tells the trainer, "because of the time commitment. But if you're in pain you don't have a choice."

He then reflected on the hit from Payne that injured his ribs. "The D-lineman said to me, 'You're fine, you're fine. Get up.' And I was thinking to myself, like, usually I am. But on this one, I am not fine."

Later, he's shown being asked how he feels. "I'm gonna be great," Cousins replies. "It will come down to how much I get hit. If I get hit a lot, it's gonna start to compound."

The three injury reports produced by the Vikings in advance of the Buffalo game said nothing about any injury of any kind to Cousins, even though he apparently received treatment for a very real rib injury.

The point here isn't to snitch on Cousins or the Vikings; they snitched on themselves by failing to disclose the injury at a time when Cousins was discussing it with NFL Films. The situation is relevant because it illustrates the worthlessness of the injury reports — and it confirms the existence of inside information. The betting public didn't know Cousins was impaired in any way, or susceptible to aggravation if "hit a lot" at Buffalo.

But some knew. Beyond Cousins and (presumably) his agent and the coaching staff and his teammates and the trainers, anyone working on the Quarterback series with access to Cousins's remarks knew about it, too. What safeguards were in place to keep that information from being used for illicit purposes?

While the Vikings covered the spread and won the game, he took a hit from Bills linebacker Von Miller that seemed to aggravate the injury. Maybe with one more big hit, he wouldn't have been able to continue.

It didn't happen. But someone knew it could. And the general public did not.

That's a major problem when it comes to the NFL's injury-reporting function, and the league would be wise to come up with a solution to containing or eliminating that kind of inside information before there's a full-blown scandal.

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