Last season, Washington Redskins quarterback
While his situation is different this year with Griffin III fully recovered and having the opportunity to focus strictly on football during his offseason workouts, Cousins said his mindset remains the same, regardless of which unit he’s taking reps with.
“Whether I’m getting reps with the ones or the twos or the threes, I’m going to try to make every rep count in getting better.”
In 2012, Cousins recorded his first-career start, leading the Redskins to a 38-21 victory against the Cleveland Browns in their home stadium, as the offense didn’t skip a beat while Griffin III was sidelined with a Grade 1 LCL strain.
In that game against the Browns, Cousins connected on 26-of-37 pass attempts for 329 yards and two touchdowns to keep the Redskins’ hopes of their first NFC East title in 13 years alive.
Cousins once again cracked the starting lineup late in 2013, as he got the opportunity to lead the offense for the last three games of the season.
In his three starts, he threw for 747 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions.
Taking ownership of the late loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15 and knowing that the Cowboys game and Giants game were within reach at the final whistle, Cousins admitted that while the offense did have flashes in 2013, they are closing that chapter and looking ahead to a new era under first-year head coach Jay Gruden.
“We had a good chance to win both (against the Falcons and Cowboys) and were really much closer in the Giants game than it felt like at the time,” Cousins said. “But I thought all three games we did some good things. Obviously it did get progressively worse for a variety of reasons, but at this point we’re moving on.
“It was a tough way to finish the season, tough season overall, but we have a good, fresh start with coach Gruden and hopefully we can get this thing rolling this year.”
Already having the opportunity to talk X’s and O’s with Gruden, Cousins believes Gruden – a former professional quarterback himself – and his understanding of the position will pay dividends in the long run for the team’s three signal callers: Griffin III,
“I’m excited for the opportunity to work with coach Gruden selfishly as a quarterback,” Cousins said. “He really knows his stuff. I’m going to get a lot of good coaching. Already I’ve started to pick up some of the concepts in meetings the last couple of weeks and we’ll be able to take it to the field. “
Cousins said there has been – and will continue to be – a lot of learning under Gruden, adding it’s “a little bit like it’s your rookie year.”
“But when you’re learning from a great coach like coach Gruden I think it really gives you a chance to be successful,” he said.
With Griffin III leading the way this week at voluntary mini-camp – and for the rest of offseason activities and beyond for the 2014 season – Cousins said he'll continue to enjoy the opportunity to learn alongside his 2012 draft classmate, and believes his positioning will benefit his career long term.
“I’ll be the first one to tell you that I think there are benefits, there is a silver lining to being in the role I’m in right now,” Cousins said. “I’m learning every day even though I may not be in the forefront or the spotlight… I’m getting better behind the scenes. I think this could be a very good thing for me down the road.”
Cousins pointed out that “there are a lot of guys in this league now, Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl winners, who had to sit early, and that’s not something that’s new to the quarterback position.”
“As of now my role is to be a backup for the Washington Redskins, and I’m very excited about doing that,” he said.