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5 Takeaways: Kirk Cousins' Aug. 14 Presser


Here's five takeaways from Redskins quarterback Josh Norman's media session with reporters on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, in Richmond, Va.

1. Cousins has told his teammates he wants the Redskins to be "the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL."

Consistent success with little controversy.

Even though the Spurs have now won five NBA championships since 1999, they rarely get the attention other franchises receive.

They go to work, play well and win championships.

Cousins' hope is that the Redskins – who won the NFC East last season – can get to the same level.

"I don't need to promote what we're doing," Cousins said. "We have plenty of people here who are very good at doing that if we play well enough. I just want to play football. I don't want to worry about anything else, and I found from playing at Michigan State and playing even before that, if you win football games, everything else takes care of itself. It's pretty simple. It's a pretty simple recipe."

2. Even though his position on the final roster is locked, it can be difficult watching the Redskins slicing down the roster from 90 players.

By the time the fourth and final preseason game is complete, the Redskins will have to cut down the roster to 53 players for the active roster.

Then by gamedays, only 46 players can dress.

Cousins likened the situation to cutting the media corps covering the team in half.

"I think there have always been and always will be position battles in training camp," Cousins said. "When they come in with 90 guys and cut it down to 53 – but really in my mind, it's 46 because those are the only guys who can actually dress and play on game day – you're literally cutting the roster in half. I've said to people, you know, imagine if we had two journalists here in this room and we said in three weeks one of you is gone and one of you is staying for the season and we're going to pay you a good salary but the other one we're paying this much [signals zero]. There'd be some stress."

While Cousins is now entrenched as the team's starting quarterback, there was a time when it was no guarantee he'd be on a team by the time Week 1 of the regular season rolled around.

"I don't know anybody who feels comfortable and safe out there," Cousins said. "We're all trying to prove ourselves. We've got three weeks of camp and then three more weeks in the preseason to make sure we're on that roster and then we've got to prove ourselves every week of the season otherwise we're going to hear about it. So, it's a high-stress, highly competitive business and it brings out the best in all of us."

3. The approach remains the same, even for the preseason.

Outside of the third preseason game, which this year is a matchup with the Buffalo Bills at FedExField, Cousins likely won't see the field very much before the Redskins square off with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Check out these top offensive shots from the Washington Redskins' 2016 Preseason Week 1 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons Aug, 11, 2016 at at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Whether he's out on the field for five snaps or 30, Cousins' preparation for the preseason is identical to how he prepares for the games that count against the win-loss record.

"I don't think the mentality changes a whole lot from game one to game two to game three to the regular season," Cousins said. "Anytime I have the chance to go out there to play in a game, I'm going to prepare and I'm going to focus and be disciplined and detailed in my preparation and play inspired and do my job as long as I am out there to do it. That will never change."

Playing in those games – along with the team's three-week stint in Richmond for training camp – brings the team closer together before having to face live competition.

"I think we have a great group of guys, good people – professionals," Cousins said. "They approach their job with the kind of professionalism that we need and we're just starting to build that understanding with some new players of what they do well and try to put them in positions to be successful."

4. Defining success in the preseason varies on situation, but priority No. 1 is health.

While the Redskins ultimately lost the preseason opener on Thursday night to the Atlanta Falcons, positives can be plucked from the game.

Cousins was perfect on his lone drive, connecting on all five of his pass attempts for 39 yards. The first-team defense, meanwhile, held Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Co. in check.

But what happens if Cousins' can't move the ball? Or even worse, if he throws multiple touchdowns but has to come out of the game due to injury?

"If we go down the field and throw five touchdown passes but I get hurt, I don't know that we would call that a success," Cousins said. If I don't throw a single completion but I come out healthy, I don't know that we'd call that a success either. There's a balance."

Health aside, the team also wants to make sure its feel confident going into the regular season.

"We're trying to be ready for Week 1 but also get in a rhythm and find some completions and convert some first downs and move the football and hopefully score points, just like we would in any other situation," Cousins said. "We're going to try to do that until they take us out of the game."

5. An up-tempo pace can wake up a stagnant offense while also catching a helpless defense off-guard.

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins on Wednesday was named to the NFL's 'Top 100 Players of 2016' list, checking in at No. 85.

Cousins may be at his best when the offense decides to hurry up its pace. He's accurate on his short throws, and with so many weapons and defenses unable to rotate players in and out, it makes them short-handed.

"I think the up-tempo has advantages in the sense that one, if there's a challenge or a play where you don't want to give the other team time to think about something, you want to get up and run the ball, you want to have a mechanism to do that," Cousins said. "If you feel like your offense is a little sluggish and you need to get out of a rut, sometimes going up-tempo can just get the juices going again. And if you feel like the defense is just kind of a little too comfortable or falling asleep and they're able to just kind of play front and coverage and not worry about what you're doing, sometimes getting up and playing fast can wake them up a little bit and catch them napping."

The team has worked on playing with a faster pace from time to time during training camp to prepare for the moments during the regular season when the Redskins have to go no-huddle.

"You have to be ready and it's one of many, many situations and preparational areas that we have to focus on in camp so that when in Week 4, 5 or 6 when it comes up out of nowhere, we know we've repped it," Cousins said. "And we're ready to do it and can do it at a high level."

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