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Rookie Spotlight: Kirk Cousins

Posted by Andrew Walker on July 27, 2012 – 1:56 pm

Each day during training camp, the Redskins Blog will be highlighting one rookie as they participate in their first professional camp and try to find their way onto the final roster. Today’s spotlight is on quarterback Kirk Cousins.

He was shocked upon learning the Washington Redskins had selected him in the fourth round of April’s NFL Draft.

But since that time, rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins said he has really enjoyed his first few months with the Redskins, and feels he has the ideal situation in front of him to grow and develop as a quarterback in the National Football League.

Cousins on Thursday afternoon participated in his first professional training camp practice, which he chalked up to a learning experience.

“It went well,” Cousins said Friday after the team’s morning walk-through session in the Redskins’ Indoor Training Facility. “Definitely a lot of learning taking place, mistakes being made as a rookie which is to be expected, but a dream come true to be a part of an NFL training camp, a very exciting opportunity — just gotta get used to that heat going forward.”

Thursday’s practice saw a 107-degree heat index by 4 p.m. — right in the middle of the afternoon practice. Cousins tweeted this afterwards:

Asked about the heat Friday, Cousins said a strong offseason conditioning program definitely kicked in.

“It’s been hotter in Michigan this summer than in past summers, but while I was in high school and college in Michigan, we never had it get that hot, never had it get to 100,” Cousins said. “It’ll take some getting used to, but we were well-conditioned, well-trained so we were able to push through it.”

‘Starts with fundamentals’
You hear a lot about a quarterback’s footwork, but that is one area Cousins said he knows he needs to improve upon as he develops in his first year with the Redskins.

“I think it starts with fundamentals,” he said. “The minute you get away from fundamentals, the bottom can fall out of whatever you’re doing, so I like to look at my footwork on my run game action, my footwork on my pass game action and make sure that’s where it needs to be.”

Cousins said those fundamentals can change from team to team.

“Sometimes coming into a new offense your rules in that regard change,” he said. “And then I’m working on also making quick decisions and learning this playbook to where I can anticipate different coverages and see things before they happen so I can get the ball to open receivers more quickly than I would if I didn’t understand this game plan.”

Relationship with Griffin III
Cousins has already fielded thousands of questions about fellow rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, already named the starter by coach Mike Shanahan.

I didn’t want to pile on, but I asked Cousins what he hoped Griffin III might learn from watching him handle his business on and off the field.

“Certainly we’re going through this experience together, we’re trying to help each other,” Cousins said. “Not just on the field, but off the field — in terms of moving into this area, what he’s doing for a place to live and where to live what he’s learning about the area. I’m trying pick his brain, so I think we’re just growing together and hopefully it’s going to be something where we get to know each other over the next several years.”

If I had one more college game…
Cousins was asked how he thought he’d fare if — considering all the knowledge and skills he’s already gained with the Redskins — he could have one more game at Michigan State, where he starred before being picked by Washington.

“I had a great quarterback coach in college and think the world of him and what he was able to help me do to get here, but certainly you pick up new things everywhere you go,” Cousins said. “If I were to go back and play one more game I think I would be a much better quarterback today than I was six or seven months ago.”

Rookie performances
Each season, the Redskins rookies typically are expected to put on some sort of show for their veteran teammates.

Cousins knows his time in the spotlight is coming.

“I was told that a skit is on the way,” he said. “I told Robert (Griffin III) to start thinking and brainstorming of some things we could do so that we don’t lay an egg.”

Asked if he had his choice which song he’d pick to sing from his teammates, Cousins didn’t think too much outside the box.

“You know, if I get asked to sing it will probably be between the Michigan State fight song or an old-school Temptations song that everybody knows, cause I don’t think I’m going to pick something that nobody knows,” Cousins said. “I’m definitely not going to pick a love song.”

Uh, Kirk, I think you might’ve just guaranteed you’ll be singing a love song.

No snoring — yet
Cousins said his roomie for training camp is linebacker Brian McNally.

“We roomed together during OTA’s and mini-camp so we got to know each other pretty well,” Cousins said. “Brian is all business and he helps me stay focused and it’s been a good match.”

McNally is a big man — does he snore like it?

“No snoring thankfully,” Cousins said with a laugh. “I’ve heard some stories of some other offensive lineman who are experiencing some snoring issues and had to buy earplugs. Thankfully that’s not the case with me. I wouldn’t be able to make it through it that was it. I’d ask for a new roommate.”

The look back at Redskins’ rookie guard/center Josh LeRibeus’s high school recruiting photo yesterday apparently backfired — someone (not me, I swear) plastered the picture all over Redskins Park on Friday.

Sorry, Josh.

If it makes you feel any better, Cousins isn’t exempt from the Rivals.com flashback, either.

Here’s Kirk as a junior at Holland Christian High School in Holland, Mich. At 6-foot-3, 171 pounds, Cousins was a stick:

He’s since packed on some good weight and is listed at 209 on the Redskins’ roster. I showed him this photo today and asked him what crossed his mind.

“I can remember we were working out in the weight room that night and they took the picture,” Cousins said. “I would’ve never thought I would make it this far, but it’s a testament to hard work and getting in the right situation.”

Cousins was ranked as a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com, which usually signifies mid-level Division 1 college prospects.

“It’s like being undrafted,” Cousins said. “You see a lot undrafted players have success in the NFL and that’s because you’re hungry, you have an edge to you and you feel like gotta prove yourself day-in and day-out, and that certainly was the case with me.”

Five W’s and one H:

Who on the team dresses the best?
“I’m gonna go with Robert. He’s got the adidas deal. He’s got all the gear he needs, he mixes it up day-in and day-out.'”

What does the word “Spartan” mean to you?
“It means toughness, it means commitment and winning.”

When did you first realize you had a chance to be a professional quarterback?
“Honestly I didn’t think about being a pro quarterback until my first year starting at Michigan State, but that was always the dream, but never really the goal.”

Where do you like to go to unwind — get away from things sometimes?
“I wouldn’t say I found it here except when I’ve been  staying in a hotel room, but I really enjoy touring D.C. I’ve toured the city three or four times on separate occasions just to look at all the history. I really do enjoy the area and all the history that’s here.”

Why didn’t you win the ESPY for “Best Play?”
“I guess the fans didn’t want it. I guess the fans didn’t think the Hail Mary was the best play of the year. I beg to differ, but maybe one day I go to the ESPY’s.”

How did your recent ceremonial first pitch go?
“It went well. It was a little high. Probably wasn’t a true strike, but I didn’t have time to warm-up so I had to ease off a little bit and it was better than bouncing the ball in which I’ve seen some other guys do.”

Go to training camp
If you’d like to attend the Redskins training camp, click here for a form and instructions to join the Redskins as they prepare for the 2012 season.

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