Kirk Cousins provides relief for Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. -- He stayed after practice Thursday, working on throws with a tight end. Kirk Cousins isn’t always the last one off the field, but he’s almost always among those staying late. This day was no exception.

He’ll watch extra film. He’ll focus hard on his mechanics.

It’s the life of a backup.

“You can’t be unprepared,” Cousins said. “If that’s your one shot to someday prove what you got, you can’t be unprepared to show what you got.”

Cousins looked anything but unprepared Sunday. When Robert Griffin III exited the game, the Washington Redskins'offense was dominant all day, thanks in part to Cousins. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 109.4. Cousins completed his first 12 passes, executing a well-designed game plan.

“I’m just throwing to the open guy and going where my reads take me,” Cousins said.

It sounds simple. But it doesn’t always unfold that way, not for the Redskins who snapped a nine-game losing streak dating to last season. Cousins wasn’t flawless, of course. He underthrew receiver DeSean Jackson on one deep ball (Jackson suffered a sprained AC joint on the play). But overall it’s hard to be more efficient, especially coming off the bench.

“He’s handled being a backup like a pro,” coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s waited patiently, and now his time is going to come to really take this thing and run with it.”

The Redskins still don’t know how long Griffin will miss. Reports vary and the Redskins will have a better idea Monday after Griffin undergoes an MRI.

“This is Robert’s team,” Cousins said. “My job is to be the backup quarterback and if called upon to play, then I better play and help this team win. That job doesn’t change ... I was glad we were able to get the win today. I was able to help us get there. That’s the job I’ve been in for three seasons.”

That mentality certainly worked Sunday. Cousins always has understood his role in Washington and how to approach his responsibility. It’s why the Redskins liked him -- and didn’t want to trade him in the offseason. Cousins started three games, all losses, at the end of the disastrous 2013 season. He started one game in 2012 and led Washington to a victory.

“The biggest thing is having two dynamic quarterbacks,” Redskins guard Shawn Lauvao said. “Coming from Cleveland, I probably had eight to 10 different quarterbacks. I know when guys are wide-eyed. For him, this is another day in the office. Kirk is really passionate about what he does show when he comes in and calls the plays and execute. ... It definitely helps having a guy like that who has experience. It goes a long way.”

The Redskins will now find out how long.