While quarterback Kirk Cousins only played sparingly in the team's first preseason game, he feels Friday's matchup with the Bills will be a helpful tune-up before the regular season.
Through two preseason games, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has only thrown and completed five passes, a statistic that will change significantly this Friday night against the Bills when the first-team offense receives a majority of the snaps (unlike last week, when a majority of the first team received zero snaps).
As Cousins approaches this dress-rehearsal, in which head coach Jay Gruden says he'll play at least a half, he's feeling much more confident about his readiness despite the lack of game reps under center.
"I feel like I've thrown a lot more than five passes because of how many reps I'm getting every day in practice," Cousins said. "And as a starting quarterback I'm getting a lot of reps, so much more than I would've as a backup quarterback. So, I feel very ready, and then more importantly is the fact that we have this entire week to get ready like a normal rhythm to a game week. So those two things I think gets you about as prepared as you can."
Three straight days of practice followed by a walkthrough on Thursday gives Cousins a preview of the regular season regimen, a couple days off followed by three consecutive practices. That includes watching film on the Bills' defense, and while the preparation isn't as extensive, Cousins said, the rhythm and routine is just as important for getting into mental shape.
The goal this week, like preparing for any preseason game, is to continue the progression made during training camp and be successful during the offense's time on the field.
"We want to be sharp, we want to stay healthy," Cousins said. "We just want to move the football, convert third downs, stay out on the field and score points, and that really never changes. Whether it's the preseason, whether it's a practice session of moving the football, or whether it's a real game in the regular season, we want to do the same things whenever we're out there."
During the Redskins' third preseason game last season in Baltimore, Cousins, then a backup, was thrust into starting role as a last-minute addition and played the majority of the game. This season has changed the way he approaches the preseason – and changed the way Gruden has treated him, understandably.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 3 Preseason Buffalo Bills Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
"I think we'll get Kirk some really good reps, hopefully get him in a rhythm, get him out of there after the half or the third quarter. I think that he'll be fine, ready to go for Pittsburgh," Gruden said Monday.
"When you're not fighting for that roster spot necessarily day in and day out, you can just build towards Week 1," Cousins said.
Unburdened by needing as many reps as possible this year, Cousins can focus his energies into providing a solid two or three quarters of football, finding that comfortability again with players running at full speed – both for him and against him – as he prepares for the team's Monday night debut.
"I think that's what this Friday night will be all about, is getting that rhythm, so that when we do go out against the Steelers on Monday night you feel like you've been there and are ready to go and it hasn't been too long since you took a snap in the stadium in a game-like atmosphere against another opponent," Cousins said. "That's why I'm excited about this Friday because it will be a good dress-rehearsal. We want to be sharp, we want to have a really good feeling coming off the field so that we can carry over to week one."