Robert Griffin III readies for season opener as Kirk Cousins prepares to start Redskins’ preseason finale

August 27, 2012

While fellow rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins starts Wednesday night’s preseason finale for the Washington Redskins against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedEx Field, Robert Griffin III will stand by idly and wait for the regular season opener in New Orleans.

Griffin said Monday he’s satisfied with his performance during the preseason and feels properly prepared to face the Saints on Sept. 9 at the Superdome.

“I think I’m ready to go for the season, Week 1 against the Saints,” Griffin said at Redskins Park. “I think all the guys are ready to go. Coach did a great job giving us the playing time [during the preseason] that he did give us. You want to play enough to where you can get better but not too much to where you can leave yourself out there for injury.”

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan previously had announced that Griffin, the second overall selection in the NFL draft in April, would not play in the fourth exhibition game. On Monday, Shanahan named Cousins the starter against the Buccaneers.

Shanahan declined to say how long Cousins would play Wednesday. Cousins said earlier Monday that he was planning to play “about a half.”

Cousins, a fourth-round draft pick in April out of Michigan State, had an eye-catching outing when he threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns while playing the entire second half of the Redskins’ second preseason game at Chicago. Now he hopes to end the exhibition season on another high note.

“I want to have a sharp performance,” Cousins said. “I want to show the coaches what I’m capable of, and show the rest of the NFL as well what I’m capable of. But I think as important as playing well, the opportunity to play gives me a great opportunity to learn and to grow and to have that game film of myself playing to be able to go back and evaluate. And that in and of itself is a major benefit.”

Cousins played little in Saturday’s third preseason game at home against the Indianapolis Colts. Griffin played into the third quarter and veteran Rex Grossman, after not playing at all against the Bears, took over from there and completed all eight of his passes. Grossman threw two touchdown passes against the Colts and had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 before Cousins finished up, failing to complete his only pass.

Grossman, not Cousins, seems more likely to be the primary backup to Griffin entering the regular season, given Grossman’s 10 years of experience. But Cousins has provided reasons to be intrigued about his NFL future. And now he gets the feeling of being an NFL starter, albeit in the final preseason game with little at stake and few, if any, regular starters likely to be on the field.

Griffin said he’d begun to study the Saints and expects their new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, to have some surprises for him in the opener.

“Of course he’s going to throw some wrinkles at me, especially being a rookie quarterback,” Griffin said. “He’s going to do some things that aren’t on tape and just try to confuse me.”

Griffin said he hadn’t given a great deal of thought to the atmosphere he’ll face and the emotions he’ll feel during his first real NFL game.

“I go back to my true home town,” Griffin said. “My whole family is from New Orleans. My mom and dad were both born and raised there. It’ll be fun. I’m sure I won’t get many cheers. It’ll be loud. It’ll definitely be loud. But it’s our job to go out there and make sure we play well and come away with a victory.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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