Redskins eager for preseason opener against Titans
RICHMOND – As Kirk Cousins walked off the practice field earlier this week, the Redskins quarterback stopped and fielded questions from reporters for a few minutes. Here’s what he had to say on a wide range of topics, from his approach to the preseason, starting tonight’s game in Tennessee and Trent Williams’ request that he stop saying ‘Alright team’ before calling every play in the huddle:
Q: How comfortable are you as the first team quarterback?
A: We’re going to find out how comfortable I really am. But I feel like I’ve done everything I can up to this point. I’ve practiced hard, I’ve gotten a lot better, developed as a quarterback. As I’ve said, now we got see it in games – and the first chance will be Thursday night. Just to get that chance, to start a game, play with the No. 1 offense, it’s an invaluable experience that I’ll carry with me, regardless of how it goes, good, bad, indifferent. It will be something I can put in my back pocket as something I’ve done so I’ll be ready to go any time my name gets called this season.
Q: How has your demeanor changed? How have you developed emotionally the past couple of months?
A: I don’t see myself as having changed a whole lot. If you really want to look at it, nitpicking, I probably got a little more confident, a little more vocal, my understanding of these guys, my ability to relate to them. Obviously, when you understand the offense, you’ve started a game in the NFL, you’re a little more comfortable speaking up, speaking your mind. But I don’t think I’ve changed a whole lot. I think I’m pretty consistent all the way through.
Q: Some guys said you used to walk into the huddle and say, “Alright, team! This is what we’re doing.” But you’ve dropped that and you’ve calmed yourself down a little bit. Is that the case?
A: It was a habit of mine from college to say ‘team’ before every play. As a rookie last year, I had so much going through my mind, that you try to change as few habits as possible. And one of those habits that didn’t change was that. But we walked into OTAs and Trent said to me, half joking, half serious, you have to stop saying ‘team’, man, it’s just weird. I said alright, for you Trent I’ll stop it. So I stopped saying it.”
Q: What are you looking to get out of the exhibition opener against the Titans?
A: It’s another chance to go out against another team, develop, get better. What are we going to get out of it? I’m going to become a better quarterback. Trent is going to become a better left tackle. Anybody who plays is going to become a better player as a result of the experience, regardless whether it goes good or bad or in between. Just the chance to go on the road, start a game, go through that whole routine, no matter what happens, I’ll be better coming out of it.
Q: What does this game mean for everybody out there?
A: It’s just a good opportunity, when the lights come on, and the situation gets a little bit bigger than a practice field, [to see] who is able to rise to the occasion and who maybe backs away. We’re going to find out. Nobody has a bigger stage than the quarterback. So it will be a good challenge to go out there and make sure I can still operate and function at a high level in a game environment.
Q: How do you evaluate your camp to this point?
A: It’s been a good camp. I think I’ve improved as a quarterback, which is what you’re looking to do. I think I’ve gotten stronger as the camp has gone on, which is also what you’re looking to do. I feel good with where I’m at, but I also know that I still have a long way to go. I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m not satisfied in terms of feeling like this is where I need to be. But what I’ve done along the way, I feel good.
Q: What’s the plan for you?
A: It’s hard to put a definitely number [of plays] on it. But I expect to play a minimum of 10 plays [and] a maximum of probably a quarter. ... I know one thing: the better we play, the sooner we’ll probably get pulled.
Q: How different are you emotionally right now compared to last year?
A: There will still be jitters, there will still be some nerves, that’s just part of it when you line up in an NFL stadium and play a game. Having been there before, I think that helps. Having had all these practice reps helps. It’s just a matter of going out there, seeing it correctly and executing.