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Quotes: Kirk Cousins (9.17.14)

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On if he feels different as the starting quarterback now compared to the end of last season:

"Yeah, if we're comparing last season the last three games to right now, certainly it's different. Much earlier in the season with a lot more to play for and I think that creates a heightened sense of urgency and anytime you play, you want to play well but certainly there is a lot of football to go and with a divisional opponent on the road, we really need to have good attention to detail and good focus this week in our preparation."

On how he handles pressure:

"Well, I think in that sense just the pressure, the expectations, whatever you want to call it, it's nothing new. We've played college football on a big stage and started NFL games and been a part of NFL teams in big games. All that being said, this isn't something brand new that we need to make a big deal of. We're going on the road, we're playing a great football team, a team that 2-0, leading our division, and we need to have a great week of practice to be ready to play them."

On Head Coach Jay Gruden's influence in his development:

"Jay, first of all, having played the quarterback position and done it at the professional level, you trust him because he's been there and he has been in your shoes. He has a lot for experience. I watched him have a lot of success with Andy Dalton the last three seasons and I believe that if I just do what he tells me to do and stay patient, trust the process, keep working, good things are going to happen because he knows what he's talking about and he has a proven track record. So I fully trust him and really just want to do what he tells me and work really hard to make sure the development comes quickly."

On how comfortable he is with the starting wide receivers:

"You're certainly going to develop greater chemistry, greater rapport the more you play with them, the more reps you get with them. So, if I were to play for four, five or six weeks, you know, Week 6 we're going to be on a much better level than we are Week 1. But that being said, I do feel comfortable. I feel like this is a system that mirrors a lot of what I've done in the past. Like I said, I trust Coach Gruden. I understand where he's coming from and we have a lot of talented playmakers on the field. You saw a lot of guys catch the football last Sunday. It's just a matter of me managing the game and getting the football in the right guy's hands to let them go make plays."

On the distribution of reps when he's the starter:

"Well, when I'm the back up, I get many of the scout teams reps and I get none of the offensive reps. Now, as a starter coming in, I will get all of the starter reps and I'll get none of the scout team reps. So basically, it'll go, when the defense is on the field getting their reps, Colt [McCoy] is the quarterback. When the offense is on the field getting their reps, I'm the quarterback. So, a little bit of night and day. You completely leave the scout team and you completely move to the offense and that will certainly help come Sunday. "

On what he learned from the final three games of last season:

"I think first of all I gained a lot of confidence. I think when you start three games in a row that's an experience. That's something that helped me have confidence now when I'm asked to go in against Jacksonville on Sunday. So, you gain that confidence, that 'been there, done that' kind of feeling, and whether it was the close games we had against Atlanta or Dallas or the tough game in the rain against the Giants, you go through experiences that help you to say, 'I've been there and I've done that.' It's hard to pinpoint any specific change or development. I think it's just a gradual ability to continue to make better and better decisions and to continue to manage the game at a higher level that the longer I'm out there on the field, the better I'm going to get."

On wide receiver DeSean Jackson:

"He's a talented player. I mean, one of the best receivers in the league and we'd be foolish not to try to get him the ball and give him an opportunity to make plays. As a quarterback, when you stand in the huddle, when you break the huddle and go to the line of scrimmage, there are certain guys that just make you feel better in tough situations and DeSean is certainly one of those guys. "

On Eagles Coach Chip Kelly's comment that Cousins has a great command of the offense:

"Yeah, I think I'm always going to try make sure my command of this offense is as strong as it can be. You know, I'm not 6-5. I don't run a 4.3. I don't have an arm that can throw at 90 yards. So, if I don't have good command and if I'm not making good decisions and if I'm not doing a great job of managing the game, then I'm not going to be playing in this league very long. So, the focus for me has to be having a good command, making great decisions, knowing where to go with the football. Sometimes that's taking a sack, sometimes that's throwing it out of bounds, but always giving us a chance to win the game at the end."

On his area of focus this week:

"I think it's getting very comfortable with the game plan. The installs, the protections, any new concepts we've put in. You get introduced to them last night, this morning and it's important to get as familiar as possible with them come Sunday morning."

On if protecting the football was a key focus for him during the offseason:

"Protection of the football is one of those areas that is just critical to wining and critical to having a successful team over the long run. As a quarterback, the ball is in your hand almost every play, if not every play. So, taking care of the football will be an emphasis of Coach Gruden to all the quarterbacks for as long as he's here and as long as I'm playing I'll always try to protect it. That being said, you're going to have turnovers. The best quarterbacks in the league are going to average an interception a game. If you finish the year with 16 picks, you're probably going to lead the league in terms of fewest interceptions thrown. It's part of playing the position. If you're going to make some great throws and hit some big time third down completions, you're going to have to at the same time throw some picks too. So, you take the good with the bad, but certainly if we protect the football with the defense we have, we're always going to have a good chance at the end of the game to win."

On what he does well:

"I don't know that I want to spend this press conference bragging about myself. I think I need to let other people do that, let you guys make your critiques, good or bad. For me, it's always going to come down to decision making. If I'm not making good decisions and knowing where to go with the football, I'm not going to play in this league very long. Just avoiding negative plays – sacks, interceptions. I have to keep us ahead of the chains, keep us out of third-and-longs. If you're consistently in third-and-long and consistently punting the football, you're putting your defense in a tough spot and you're not giving yourself a chance on offense to get your whole playbook going. So, it's a matter of staying positive on first and second down, staying out of long-yardage situations, and when you do that, you find yourself always in the fourth quarter having a chance to come down and win it."

On if this is his biggest opportunity with the Redskins:

"It's hard to rank them. I think every opportunity in the NFL is big. You're being evaluated by so many people – your own team, your own coaches, your own front office, other teams, the media, friends and family back home are evaluating you. So, every opportunity you get, you're under a microscope, and it's just important that you're well-prepared each time you go out there and you know what you're going to do and you don't lay an egg. Rather than compare them, I just say each opportunity is very, very big."

On his enthusiasm in the huddle:

"Without going into too much detail, I just say that I have a laser focus, I'm an intense guy, and sometimes I like to make fun of myself too and kind of play jokes on that as well about how intense I am. It's always a balance of making sure you're locked in and focused, but also that you're not putting too much pressure on yourself or forgetting to be light-hearted and have fun at the same time because it is a game."

On if the team made any adjustments to help ease him into last week's game:

"You know, I think if anything, we thought the zone read was going to be really good. With Robert going out, we didn't execute quite as often or at all against Jacksonville. So if there was any change, it was probably for the worst that we didn't have that at our disposal as much when I was in. Other than that, the playbook stayed entirely the same and felt like the full menu of plays that would be there for Robert were there for me. It's just a matter of executing."

On Jackson's speed and developing an on-field relationship with him:

"I haven't done a lot of work with him because when DeSean's on the field, Robert has been on the field. That will be an emphasis in practice this week to make sure I get a good feel for 'How fast is this guy really?' But, in watching and seeing all the reps and the work I have done with him in individual, it is hard to overthrow him. And as a result, you want to make sure you get the ball up and down and let him go get it. Guys like that, you just want to give them a chance to make plays and go do what they're paid to do. You don't want to be a deterrent or slow them down from being able to make our offenses as explosive as I think it's capable of being."

On hearing the news of Gruden's hiring in the offseason:

"Yeah, I was thrilled to hear that Jay was hired and that Sean McVay was going to be the offensive coordinator. I felt like all things considered, it was probably the best possible scenario – selfishly – for me to have a coach who has proven success with a guy in Andy Dalton, who I would say is a similar player to me. The system didn't have a whole lot of turnover from the previous systems, so we were able to keep some things the same. And then the fact that Sean was able to be kept from the old staff, gave us a good communication in installing the offense to be able to say, 'Here's what we did last year and here's what we're doing now.' I think it was a really good situation for me to come into. In this league, you're only as good as the guys around you and that includes the head coach and the offensive coordinator and the guys calling plays. So I feel very fortunate to have the receivers I have, the tight ends, the running backs and the offensive line, but then obviously also the coaches and the play callers. It makes a big difference as a quarterback."

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