Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said that safety Su'a Cravens, who stunned teammates by leaving the team a week before its season opener as he ponders retirement, would be welcomed back "with open arms" if he decides to return to Washington.
"He's got to do what's best for him, for his family," Cousins said Tuesday during his weekly appearance with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan. "And I want to give him space to make that decision. He knows that we're behind him, we're supporting him. He's a teammate of ours. He's made a lot of plays for us, he is a great player, has a bright future."
"And if he feels like coming back and helping our team is what he wants to do, we would welcome him with open arms and want him to help us however he can," Cousins said. "We're going to give him his time, though, and let him do what he needs to do, give him his space. And hopefully it can all work out and he can get back and be in a good place and be ready to help us here shortly."
Cousins said he, like so many of his teammates, was surprised when he found out at Sunday's practice that Cravens had left the team. But he also pointed out that the NFL is peppered with surprises at this time of the year, and that turnover and change are the only constants.
"Nobody's ever comfortable, nobody ever feels safe, none of us feel like we've got it made or figured out," he said. "You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that is a tough reality of this league. And I think when I was on the outside as a young person or as a college athlete, hoping to someday be in the NFL, you don't realize how much of a grind and how challenging this league can be, and how much it will test you not just physically but mentally and emotionally."
"You know, you have to be tough to last in this league," Cousins went on. "And it'll make you question, 'Do I want to do this? Do I have what it takes?' But as Coach Shanahan always said, tough times don't last, tough people do. And I believe that if you choose to be a tough person and stick through it and fight it out, usually good things happen in the end and you'll proud of the fact that you did."
Cousins later answered a question about the pressures of being a young, highly compensated athlete living under a constant spotlight, and he said he has tried to accept that his job has positives and negatives.
"If it was easy and anyone could do it, it wouldn't be paying us what they're paying us, it wouldn't be the privilege that it is to play," the quarterback said. "But with that said, the reason they do pay what they pay, and the reason that there are a lot of perks is because it's a grind, and it's not easy, and a lot of people who have tried to do this weren't able to. You've got to understand that getting into it. But you take the good with the bad. There's nowhere else I'd rather be, but at the same time, by no means is it a cakewalk, by no means is it easy.
"And as you grow as a player in this league, you start thinking outside yourself, too. As a young player you're just focusing on how do I make this team, how do I survive, and now going into my sixth year — as a starting quarterback now coming up on my third year — I really want to look outside myself and say how do I help guys come along, how do I help these other guys play at a higher level. And so your roles, your responsibilities only grow."
Cousins also discussed his team's decision to jettison young quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who immediately joined the Eagles, Washington's upcoming opponent.
"It's just a tough reminder of how this league works," Cousins told Paulsen and Rouhier. "I feel like everybody I've befriended and gotten to know really well, it's almost like they end up moving on. It makes it tough to have these long sustained friendships within the organization, because guys are always coming and going. And, you know, that's not ideal. And so certainly it was tough to lose Nate. These roster spots are so precious, and it was hard to justify having a third quarterback; as most teams now are avoiding having a third quarterback, our organization decided to do the same thing, and it opens up a roster spot hopefully that can help us in other areas, either on offense or defense or special teams."
"But tough to lose him," Cousins said. "He was great for our quarterback room, and he does know the system well, and as a result there is some awareness that he's gonna be sharing what he does know with the Eagles. And as a result, that's something we don't want to fall asleep on, or take too lightly."