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Five Takeaways: Kirk Cousins' Lions Week Presser


Here's five takeaways from Redskins quarterback Trent Williams' media session with reporters on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

1. Cousins has early memories of wanting to play at Ford Field

The Redskins' 2012 fourth-round pick out of Michigan State will have a bit of a homecoming when the team travels to Detroit this weekend. "A lot of familiar faces," will likely be in the stands come Sunday, he said, as some of his friends and family members still live in the suburban, Holland, Mich., area.

Cousins said that the high school state championship was played at Ford Field, an opportunity he and his teammates always imagined achieving.

"[We] never even considered being able to do it as a professional player," Cousins said. "[I] didn't even come close to playing there in high school – we lost in the first round – but to get to go back and play there now as a professional is a pretty cool experience. I did play there one time in college. We actually played Alfred Morris and Florida Atlantic at Ford Field, so I have only played there one other time before."

2. There's no formula for off-script plays.

One of the early-season challenges Cousins faced was making decisions when plays broke down. Oftentimes, he would turn them into negative plays – an interception or a sack – that would hand over momentum to the opposing side.

Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 7 game against the Detroit Lions Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.

Recently, and especially last Sunday, Cousins has been much sharper in making decisions and extending plays when he's needed to. With the wealth of talent at his disposal, having players like Rob Kelley, who made a nice first down grab over the middle while Cousins scrambled up to the line of scrimmage when the pocket collapsed, has only helped in turning those plays positive.

"You just play and guys come open," Cousins said. "The movement in the pocket is just a part of the pass rush, feeling like it's affecting and you have got to get out. If guys are open in rhythm and the pocket is clean, you just don't have to do that. If it doesn't feel like guys are getting open, or the pocket starts to break down, that's where you have to play off-schedule. It was good to be able to do that a couple times and have some productive plays. But you never go looking for that. You just try to play and allow your instincts to lead you into those."

3. The margin of error is small in the NFL.

The Redskins have won four consecutive games, but none of them have provided the luxury of taking a breath. The highest margin of victory for the team was 11 points when they defeated the Browns 31-20. Otherwise, fans and players have sweated it out until the final minutes.

The close affairs have a variety of small factors that can lead to a win or loss. Cousins knows that all too well.

"I've said it before, the difference between 5-11 and 11-5 can be pretty small because of how many times these games come down to one or two throws, or one or two penalties, or whatever it may be," he said. "But, there's no doubt that the guys who can make those plays at the end of the game are the ones that get remembered and the ones that get a lot of the credit."

4. The offensive line accounts for much of the team's success.

Consider Sunday's production – 230 rushing yards and zero sacks allowed – a sign that when the offensive line clicks, the Redskins are a difficult team to beat.

As Cousins reflected on the past year and a half, and more specifically the last several weeks, he's noticed how the running game and the cleaner pocket have contributed to allowing him more success as a passer. This isn't a surprise so much as a pleasant trend that's emerged during the team's winning streak.

"We knew they had to stay healthy," Cousins said of his O-linemen. "Guys have stepped up and played well and it's no surprise because they're talented players. They're professionals. They work hard at it. They're well-coached. They come out here every day and they want to get better and they look at what they can improve upon. But there's no doubt we have a good group of guys up front and they're a big part of why as a team we were able to win the last four games."

5. Cousins is trying to keep wide receiver Josh Doctson patient through his injury.

It has been a particularly frustrating start for rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson. An Achilles injury lingered throughout training camp and into the beginning of the season, which has forced him from all but two games so far.

He's been shut down from doing any kind of physical activity in recent days in an effort to expedite the healing process, but the timetable for an injury like this remains largely unknown. Which, makes it challenging for someone who is a first-round draft pick that just wants to get on the field and catch passes from Cousins.

The quarterback has stressed to him the right perspective and not getting caught up in the moment.

"Yeah, I mean welcome to the NFL in terms of the fact that, yes, he's upset, frustrated, disappointed that he can't help the team as a competitor and a person. He wants to help us," Cousins said. "But he also knows that he's got to get himself healthy and his best chance to help us is to be out right now and to be getting healthy. So I try to tell him to just stay patient. In the long scheme of things, which I've said many, many times standing here, it's a marathon not a sprint. It's not necessarily about this week or this year. This team wants you for the long haul. So do everything you can to be healthy for the long haul, not just for this week or this year, and that's what he's doing."

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