Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Kirk Cousins's press conference at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun Co., Va.
1. Cousins recently said that he believes this season has been the best in his career.
Though the statistics may not be quite up to par with previous years – at least in terms of total passing yards and touchdowns – Cousins expressed that he's really hit his stride in his third season as a starting quarterback in the league.
While the Redskins sit at 4-6 and have struggled to close out halves, Cousins spoke from a personal growth standpoint and relayed that he feels he has improved in nearly every facet of his game.
"I think I've done a much better job of handling protections, of feeling the rush, of knowing when to take sacks, when to throw it away, when to throw it in tight windows, working though progressions, knowing when to run, when to take off and use my legs, just throwing with accuracy, being decisive.," Cousins said. "All the things you have to do in this position, I think I have continued to improve and it's helped in our offensive production."
Head coach Jay Gruden mentioned one of those improvements has been his pocket presence, staying in to take a hit as he releases the football. That was on display against the Saints and the Seahawks, but Cousins claimed he feels as though that's always been a strength of his.
"In high school, if we had a loose protection, in college if we had a loose protection, my only way to be effective was to stand in there and make the throw. Sometimes chuck and duck. I've always felt like I've had to be able to do that, but it has probably happened more this year, which is why it's shown up. It's certainly a trait you have to have to play in this league."
2. After a brutal loss, Cousins and co. will take the same mindset into every game.
Sunday's loss was only more painful because of how close a victory seemed. Still, with the short week, the Redskins will approach it like any other game – this time with more limitations to their practice and study time.
"We'll have our hands full and it will be a great opportunity to play on Thanksgiving night on national TV at home in front of our home fan base," Cousins said. "What more could you want?"
As for managing through the emotions of Sunday's game and preventing it from bleeding over into Thursday, Cousins didn't think that would be an issue.
"I don't think anybody gets to this level without being a mentally tough person," Cousins said. "You just have to be mentally tough and get the necessary study time in and ask the right questions, gain valuable insight from our reps today and tomorrow and just be a student of this game in your preparation this week and if you do that, good things will happen. We've played on short weeks before and have been able to move the football and been effective, so we expect to have to do the same thing this week."
3. The Redskins will rely on the reps they've taken throughout the year on a short week.
Of the many challenges that a Thursday night football game brings to the Redskins, one of them understandably is the limited amount of practice time. The team, which still has its fair share of injuries, will be conducting strictly walkthrough practices this week, trying to expedite the learning curve for several new players seeing their first game action this year.
Chief among players needing the reps is Tony Bergstrom, who will line up at center with Chase Roullier being unable to participate with an injured hand.
"I think the challenge is, any new plays we have in, we don't have as many reps banked on," Cousins said. "For the most part, we'd like to think with our staple offense and what we've done for a long time, and most of the players we're playing with at the skill positions have been out there before. We have a couple exceptions, but you rely on those reps you've banked through in OTAs and training camp and trusting that will carry you through on a short week."
4. Cousins believe Samaje Perine will be able to carry the load again Thursday without Chris Thompson.
The Redskins rookie had to shoulder the brunt of carries against the Saints after starter Rob Kelley was placed on Injured Reserve. This week, he'll carry even more, after Chris Thompson fractured his fibula against the Saints.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2017 Week 11 matchup against the New Orleans Saints Nov. 19, 2017, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Cousins liked what he saw from Perine, who ran for more than 100 yards on Sunday, the first time a Redskins player had done so this season.
"I thought he did a really good job this past week running the football and I expect him to run the football at a high level this week as well as the rest of the season," Cousins said. "Where we're asking more of him than what is probably realistic is in all the protections and the pass game and it's almost unfair to him as a rookie to have that much put on him, but we just don't have a choice with the injuries. He's a professional and he'll be ready to go, and I'll do the best I can to help him. The Giants are going to throw a lot at us, so we've got to handle it the best we can." 5. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder is heating up in the pass game, and will be relied upon with many offensive weapons injured.
Wide receiver Jamison Crowder is starting to heat up. He has 20 receptions in the last three games, which is more than the amount of receptions he collected in the first seven weeks of the season combined.
As more and more offensive weapons are taken out of the equation, and as a banged up offensive line potentially forces Cousins to make quicker throws, Crowder will likely become a necessary target to make up the production missing on the field. Still, Cousins is going to look to where his progressions take him.
"The production, as it ebbs and flows, it's unique because I really just go where my routes take me," Cousins said. "On that two-minute drill, I think I went to him two or three times. The first play of the drive, he was really the No. 1 option, but the other two plays he really wasn't. I mean, he's deep in the progression, but the coverage took me to him and he's wide open. It just depends on how defenses try to cover people and who they leave open and how we formation plays. It does kind of change from week to week and even within the game of who's getting the football."