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Five Takeaways: Kirk Cousins' Giants Week Presser


Here's five takeaways from Redskins quarterback Trent Williams' media session with reporters on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

1. He's staying focused on the Giants.

The stakes are pretty clear at this point. The Redskins will make the playoffs with a victory over the Giants unless the Packers and Lions tie. That prospect would seemingly make it difficult to manage the task at hand – beating New York at home – but Cousins knows that's what it will take to earn a victory.

"Just prepare like I always prepare," Cousins said. "Nothing fancy. Every game is important. If we had won a game earlier in the year that we ended up losing, I think we would already have pretty much clinched. So they're all important and this one is no different."

Cousins did seem to be happy with the team's morale this week, stating that the group has "a sense of urgency but are also enjoying the process. I think we're right where we need to be in our preparation."

2. Film study includes everyone on the Giants roster.

Because the Giants have already locked down the fifth seed in the playoffs, there is still uncertainty about how much Giants head coach Ben McAdoo will play his starters depending on how the game unfolds.

The Redskins and Cousins are preparing as though they will play the majority, if not all, of the game, while also taking into account the backups they could end up facing. But this preparation isn't anything special, according to Cousins.

"I remember when we played against them last time I think one of their DBs went out with an injury early," Cousins said. "They were rotating guys in, they were having different people play nickel, different people at safety, trying to figure out a combination that works and that's happened several times this year. I mean, we prepared expecting a different corner for the Bears last week and then Johnathan Banks played, so we try to learn the entire depth chart and be familiar with everybody and ready to go.

"We want to be ready for their entire roster and anybody that could play. I don't ever want to be surprised. So however I can prepare to be ready for what could come on Sunday, I'm going to do that."

3. Running with the ball helps expand the offense.

Cousins tallied season-highs in rushing attempts (5) and rushing yards (30) in the Redskins' win against the Bears, and two of those runs resulted in touchdowns – one a quarterback sneak, the other a 9-yard sprint around the corner.

A couple of those runs went for some nice chunks of yardage and earned the team first downs, opportunities made possible by the Bears' man coverage that Cousins took advantage of. While he doesn't look specifically to run on a particular amount of snaps, he knows adding that to his arsenal can be effective when scanning the field.

Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 17 game against the New York Giants Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.

"You want to give defenses a lot to think about and when the quarterback is an element to run the football," Cousins said. "That certainly is one more thing to factor into the coverages you call and the preparation you do. So it's a great thing to have, but you never want to sacrifice it or sacrifice other elements of your game to run the ball."

Cousins is still learning the position's nuances, but with a much stronger offensive line, he hasn't had as much reason to scramble out of collapsing pockets to make a run for it.

"The longer I play, the more of a feel I'll get for that and the better I'll be," Cousins said. "And I thought that this past Saturday it was good to have a few of those plays, but if we can move the chains throwing it to Vernon [Davis] or Pierre [Garçon] or DeSean or Jordan [Reed] or [Jamison] Crowder or Chris Thompson or whoever, that's good, too."

4. The connection with Jamison Crowder has always been there.

Cousins doesn't like generalizing about offensive trends. He boils success down to the specific play and coverage he saw and how he took advantage of it. Just as he has made that clear when describing the offense's ups and down in the red zone, he also makes that clear when he describes his connection with Jackson.

The wide receiver has three consecutive games with more than 100 yards receiving, a testament to the deep balls that he and Cousins have been able to complete and also his speed over the middle, making linebackers and safeties miss on crossing routes – which he did plenty of in Chicago – to gain extra yardage.

There is no set percentage of throws towards Jackson that equate to a winning formula, but Cousins knows that when the big-play opportunities present themselves, there's a good chance he will make good things happen.

"When they're there, they need to be hit and, you know, we felt like there were a few that we could have had that could have given him an even bigger day and could've given our offense a bigger day," Cousins said. "I think we have been very accurate down the field this season. I think it has been an improvement from past years and when they're there, we've got to hit them."

5. Chris Thompson has been "phenomenal."

Thompson had a breakout game against the Bears on Saturday, recording two touchdowns, his first multiple-score game of his career. And his quarterback couldn't be happier for him.

Specifically, as a testament to keeping the pocket clean for Cousins to operate effectively, Thompson has continued to excel as a pass blocker, thwarting blitzes with proper leverage despite the obvious size difference.

"He's been phenomenal. He's done everything we've asked of him in the pass game with protections and with running routes, catching the football, making people miss. Just phenomenal," Cousins said. "And many times the size difference between him and the guy he's blocking is significant and yet he's still holding up in protection. And it takes a special person to have the courage and the toughness to stick his face on people consistently and then to do it well. He's got great technique. He works hard at it – before practice, after practice. It's really shown. So I'm thrilled with his improvement as a player all the way around."

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