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Kirk Cousins Can 'Take Ownership' Of The Redskins' Offense As A Starter


Finishing the first week of OTAs as the solidified starter, Trent Williams knows there are more opportunities for both him individually and the team in 2016.

On the field, Washington Redskins starting quarterback Kirk Cousins is working with as much intensity as he ever has during OTAs. That much, he says, is the same.

But entering this season as the bonafide starter after signing his franchise tag this past offseason, it's the off-field aspect of being the starting quarterback that he's working on.

"I feel like I'm still in process," the fifth-year quarterback said when asked about his offseason approach. "I've called a few of the starting quarterbacks around the league, a few of the retired guys who had great careers, and just asked them what worked for them in the offseason."

For Cousins, there's a new sort of balance and rhythm that he's trying to discover. In seasons past, the Michigan State-product has been locked in a quarterback battle at this point in the year. But after a record-setting 2015 campaign, there's no question who the leader of the offense is.

Starting all 16 games a season ago, he led the Redskins to a 9-7 record and the NFC East Division crown. Cousins threw for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns. His 101.6 passer rating landed him sixth in the NFL.

After such a strong season-long performance, veteran left tackle Trent Williams sees leadership in his quarterback.

"The game is slowing down for him you can tell," he told ESPN 980. "It's the third year for him in the system. He knows it and he's basically running practice now.

"It's his team and his offense."

That sentiment is something that Cousins certainly understands.

"Well you have permission now to take ownership," he said when asked about being the clear-cut starter at OTAs. "As a backup or a guy competing of the spot, it doesn't get received real well to try and take ownership. You just try to, you know, handle it the right way and now as a starter you really can take ownership."

It's been since college that Cousins has entered the offseason as the No. 1 guy at the quarterback position. For the Spartans, he set the school's single-season and career total touchdown passes records. Cousins also topped the school charts with a 146.08 passer rating.

Check out images from the Washington Redskins' offense during their second day of OTAs at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

And while the NFL is certainly different from the college game, he's been able to look back on that experience as MSU's long-time starter.

"If feels like it did back in college," he said, "when you were the starting quarterback and had the chance to really assert yourself."

In what is essentially his first full year as the starting quarterback, the offense that Cousins gains control of is certainly not lacking for talent. The Redskins added wide receiver Josh Doctson in the first-round of the NFL Draft and signed veteran tight end Vernon Davis.

When you combine the additions with the pieces already in place, such as Rob Kelley, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed, you've got the making for a potentially high-scoring offense. But in OTAs, that's all talk, and talk is cheap to the Redskins' quarterback.

"Potential doesn't mean a whole lot, we want result," he said. "You can't play until the fall, all you can do now is prepare. I'll be the first one to say, we have a lot of talent, the receiver position, the tight end position, the running back position.

"It's my job to just get them the football and let them do the work. Get the ball out of my hand let them go make plays. It's exciting to have that many talented players on your offense."

Entering his second season as the team's starter, last year is well in the review mirror.

The Redskins won the NFC East Division crown for the first time since 2012. In the two years that followed, the organization finished at the bottom of the division with back-to-back losing campaigns. Cousins is determined to prove to the league that not only was he not a "flash in the pan," but the Redskins in general are here to stay, especially with the added firepower.

"We had a great year," he said. "Can you be a pro where you do it again and then again and then again and again and again and that's what the great players do in this league and that's what the great organizations are expected to do.

"That's what we are trying to work towards and are by no means there yet, but that's the goal."

Despite all the talent that may surround him, this is still his offense. He's not competing for a spot and the Redskins are not searching for a leader. When the huddle breaks on Sundays this fall, all eyes will be on the man donning the No. 8 in the Burgundy and Gold.

It's a role that Cousins is familiar with going back to his days wearing the green and white in East Lansing. Last season, he finally received his opportunity after being named the starter at the end of training camp. This year, he doesn't have to wait that long and he's seizing his opportunity.

"I enjoy being able to [take ownership] and I think it helps me as a quarterback to have ownership," he said, "because at the end of the day, I am the one holding the football in my hands."




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