ASHBURN, Va. (CBSDC) — Kirk Cousins will make the second start of his NFL career Sunday when the Washington Redskins travel to face the Atlanta Falcons in a game would have little to no meaning had it not been for the benching of Robert Griffin III.
Much like Cousins’ previous start, in which he spelled an injured Griffin against the Cleveland Browns, this is not how he envisioned becoming top dog in Washington.
Kyle Shanahan informed Cousins that he would starter when the quarterback arrived at the facility. It was the offensive coordinator who told him as a matter of convenience because they just happened to bump into each other that morning.
“It wasn’t anything dramatic,” Cousins said.
Mike Shanahan has said the quarterback change was made to protect the long term health of Griffin. The coach repeatedly cited concerns over the high volume of sacks given up this season and the physical toll they may have on the man who publicly is still the face of the franchise.
Enter Washington’s insurance policy.
“It is what it is,” Cousins said of situation. “I’m going to submit to the authorities above me and do what I’m coached to do and try to help this team win, whether as a starter or a backup or whatever role I’m asked to take on.”
The second-year Michigan State product acknowledged this has not been an easy pill for his younger predecessor to swallow. But Cousins also doesn’t believe Griffin will have to deal with the bitter tasting medicine for long.
Despite what some may suggest, Cousins feels his stay atop the depth chart is temporary.
“I do believe that Robert is the franchise quarterback here in Washington,” he said. “He was drafted No. 2 overall. A lot of picks were traded to get him. Common sense would say that this is his team, and I’ve never wanted to take that away from him or do anything to undermine his role. And I’ll say it again even as I start this week, I believe that, at the end of the day, this is Robert’s team going forward into next season.”
Griffin said he would do his best to help prepare Cousins for the duration of the season. His advice for the new starter was simple: tune it out.
“Me and Kirk have talked, but the biggest thing for him is he just can’t let all this distraction affect what goes on on the football field and he knows that,” Griffin said. “I promise you I’ll be there for him every step of the way.”