Rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins seems likely to play quite a bit during the four-game preseason for the Washington Redskins that begins Thursday night in Buffalo.
“I haven’t been told directly as to how much I’ll play,” he said after Monday’s training-camp practice at Redskins Park. “But I’m going in with an open mind and expecting to get quite an opportunity in the preseason. I understand it’s my first opportunity to show what I can do and certainly the coaches, while they evaluate each and every practice, the games will carry that much more weight. It’s important that I play as well as I can. So I’ll be doing my preparation all this week and I’ll be excited for the opportunity to play an NFL game this coming Thursday.”
Cousins is scheduled to play with the third-team offense against the Bills. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin and the team’s other starters are penciled in to play 12 to 20 snaps, according to Coach Mike Shanahan. Veteran Rex Grossman will play Thursday with the second-string offense, Shanahan said Monday.
The Redskins selected Cousins in the fourth round of the NFL draft in April even after choosing Griffin with the draft’s second overall pick. That came as a surprise to Cousins and many NFL observers. But Cousins said he has grown increasingly comfortable with the situation since the draft.
“While I was surprised at the time of being picked and while it is unclear as to what my future will be—I guess that’s the case with everybody—I think at the same time I have settled in and I do feel there are a lot of blessings to being part of the Redskins,” he said. “I feel it’s a good fit. Again, time will tell what the future holds. But if I’m going to be as good as I hope to be, my opportunity will come and then the cream always rises to the top.”
Cousins’s development on the training-camp practice fields has been able to proceed with relatively little scrutiny, at least compared to the bright spotlight that finds every move made by Griffin.
“It’s important to be patient,” Cousins said. “Honestly, the pressure that could have been put on me from the outside isn’t going to exceed the pressure that I put on myself. Fourth-round pick, first-round pick—I’m going to put more pressure on myself than the fans could or the media could. I have high expectations for myself. I’m just going to keep working day in and day out and look forward to good things in the future.”
Shanahan has said he intends to give Griffin a standard amount of preseason playing time for a starting quarterback, rather than an increased amount because Griffin is a rookie. Grossman, as a veteran with plenty of experience with the Redskins’ offensive system, probably doesn’t need a great deal of preseason playing time. So that potentially could leave Cousins playing quite a bit in the four exhibition games.
“It’s been a lot of firsts from the time I was drafted until now, a lot of learning, a lot of new experiences, and training camp is no different,” Cousins said. “This first preseason game will be no different. It’s gone well. I really can’t complain. I feel like I’m making rookie mistakes here and there but overall I feel pleased with my development. My goal is to make the Redskins happy they drafted me. I’m trying to do that each and every day.”