ASHBURN (AP) — Not-so-breaking news: A rookie will start at quarterback for the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Be it Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins, it will be a rookie who’s been a part of a unique situation, part of a tandem that has learned the NFL through an offseason program and training camp specially designed by a coaching staff prepping two quarterbacks new to the league.
All along, the other rookie has been there by his side, at practices and meetings. Someone in the same situation. Someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to grow with.
“I see him more than I see most anybody in my life,” Cousins said. “Because of how many hours we’re here, because we’re both rookies.”
If two is better than one, then the Redskins (7-6) should be in better shape than most teams turning to a first-year backup should Cousins have to start in place of Griffin against the Cleveland Browns (5-8).
“We’ve both had to learn a lot when it comes to living the NFL life, so we have done that together,” Cousins said. “They’ve had to install plays with both of us there, rather than being by myself if I was on another team with a veteran quarterback. You don’t see it a lot — two rookie quarterbacks at one and two on the depth chart.”
The Redskins traded up to select Griffin at No. 2 overall and anointed him the starter shortly thereafter, while Cousins was chosen in the fourth round — a highly debated pick for a team coming off of a 5-11 season with needs elsewhere.
Yet, even if he does nothing else in 2012, Cousins surely validated the wisdom of his selection with his performance after Griffin was injured in the fourth quarter of the overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens.
Cousins stepped in and went 2 for 2 and ran in the game-tying 2-point conversion in the final minute of regulation of the 31-28 victory.
“It worked out like Coach wanted it to,” Griffin said. “You’ve got two guys coming in, so we’re both having to learn the system.”
Griffin sprained a ligament in his right knee in the game and has been limited in practice this week. If he’s not ready to go by Sunday, the Redskins like what they have in Cousins.
“You knew exactly how we felt about Robert when we made him the starting quarterback and gave up what we gave up,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “You have the opportunity to get a guy like Kirk, we thought that was the best thing for the organization — and I think that’s proven out already.”
Cousins beat out veteran Rex Grossman for the No. 2 job during training camp — Grossman has been inactive for every game this season — and saw regular season action for the first time when Griffin suffered a concussion in Week 5. Cousins threw one touchdown pass but also had two fourth-quarter interceptions in the 24-17 loss.
But against the Ravens, Cousins stepped into a high-pressure situation and delivered, rolling right to buy time before hitting Pierre Garcon for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I said after the Atlanta game that as much as I hate the result, I would learn from it,” Cousins said. “And I think results this past Sunday prove that. I think part of the reason I left the pocket on the touchdown pass was the mistake I made against the Falcons in the second interception.”
Cousins said he received some 140 text messages after the Ravens win and responded to maybe two or three, saying to his brother: “I went 2 for 2. Let’s not get carried away.”
“It’s a tough position,” Cousins said. “You go 2 for 2 and everybody loves you. If you go 0 for 2, everybody hates you. You say, ‘It’s only two passes. That’s not really much of a body of work to make a decision either way.’
“But the position that I’m in, being where I was drafted and the role I have, I’m not going to get a whole season or two seasons to show the NFL what I can do. I’m going to get a half of a game and a preseason game. I’m going to get two throws at the end of a Ravens game, so I have to be willing to accept that.
“It’s not ideal. I would have loved to have been the 10th overall pick and have two or three seasons to see what I can or what I can’t do, but that’s not the luxury I have.”
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