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5 Takeaways: Dec. 16 Kirk Cousins Presser

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Here's five takeaways from Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins' Dec. 16 press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.


1. The Redskins are excited for a potential playoff run, but make no mistake about it, the team is all business right now.

The atmosphere in the locker room right now is drastically different from what it was the last two seasons.

Instead of a dejected group with absolutely no chance of making the playoffs, the team is upbeat, eager to show that their lead in the NFC East is no fluke.

"Yeah, it's encouraging to have meaningful games in December, to feel like we're playing for something, to have a chance at the division title," Cousins said. "All those things are in front of us. If that had been said to us in August that we'd have a chance in December to play for a division title, we would have taken it whether we were 6-7 or much better than that."

But while the Redskins have shown major growth this season, now is not the time to pump the brakes on a season that could lead to playoff action, some of which would take place at FedExField.

"We've still got everything we've set out to accomplish at the beginning of the season in front of us," Cousins said. "So, lots to play for and lots to work towards. That's why we got to have a great week of preparation and maximize every chance we get to be ready for Sunday."

2. Cousins said it's been "a lot of fun" to watch Jordan Reed this season.

When in doubt, throw in Reed's direction. More than likely, he'll not only come down with the ball, but the third-year University of Florida product will probably gain a few extra yards as well.

Reed progression has been incredible this year, as he's remained relatively healthy and is putting up incredible marks, already recording 67 receptions for 694 yards and seven touchdowns.

He is second in the NFL in receptions among tight ends (67) and third in the NFL in yards after catch among tight ends (374).

Last week against the Bears, he had perhaps the best game of his career, hauling in nine receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown.  

"He's elite at his position and what we need him to do, he does it at a high, high level," Cousins said. "For me as a quarterback, I'm a distributor. I need those guys to get open. I need time to throw. Jordan makes my job easy because he gets open and he makes plays. What's exciting is how he's been able to stay healthy and be consistently productive whereas I feel like in the past you didn't know if you were going to have him because of injuries."

Cousins added: "I think we've only scratched the surface as to what he's capable of being with another offseason of work and development."

With Cousins still in just his first season as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he's finding what works and doesn't work with his weapons.

As time goes on, the hope is that he builds an even stronger relationship with Reed.

"I still feel like we're in the early stages of that and that's something that could grow much further in the future," Cousins said. "But we start to build that kind of a rapport with a guy like Jordan when you're out there together consistently and I think that goes a long way as well."

3. Cousins heeded some advice from recently acquired veteran running back Pierre Thomas.

While he was brought in to be a role player for the Redskins, Thomas is one of just two players on the roster with a Super Bowl ring (Jeron Johnson is the other).

Thomas also worked with one of Cousins' idols in New Orleans for years. That, of course, would be future Pro Football Hall of Famer Drew Bress.

So when Cousins had the opportunity to talk with Thomas last week, he wasn't shy about it.

The Washington Redskins on Friday announced the signing of nine-year veteran running back Pierre Thomas. Check out highlights from his career.

"He's had a lot of success with the Saints playing in one of the best offenses in football for the past almost a decade," Cousins said. "I felt like he's got a lot to share and I just try to be a good question-asker and pick his brain. I think there will still be a lot more to learn as we go. Great to have guys like him and other vets that we've picked up as the year goes on who have that experience and know what it's like to win and win consistently. I think those guys can have a valuable imprint on our locker room and on the maturity of our team."

4. While the Redskins' run game's production has been sporadic this season, Cousins still believes a strong running game can help the whole offense.

Some weeks the team is unloading on defenses for 200 yards, and then others they're barely mustering 50 yards.

In recent weeks, they've been between the team extremes, as they ran for 73 yards against the Cowboys and 99 yards against the Bears.

Although Gruden has said recently that the team may have to become a little more pass-heavy, Cousins believes that a good balance between the air and ground attack can help the entire unit.

"When you run the ball unsuccessfully then you're behind the chains and I think it makes the job a little bit tougher," Cousins said. "So whatever way is the best way to move the football week-to-week is how I want to do it. I've said this before, to just abandon the run game would be foolish because it is a great help when you can get it going. But there are times where maybe first and second down we've got to throw the ball more because we feel that's the best way to move the football. I think it just varies from week to week and defense to defense and what we feel like gives us the best chance to move the ball and ultimately win."

5. The Bills' defense presents quite the challenge.

While they haven't lived up to hefty expectations placed on them this season, Buffalo's defense is still very strong.

Both Marcell Darius and Mario Williams appeared in the Pro Bowl earlier this year, and others, like Bacarri Rambo and Ronald Darby are having strong seasons.

Rambo, of course, was a 2013 Redskins draft pick, while Darby is in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Cousins knows they'll be bringing their best on Sunday.

"They have very good players all the way through their defense and all the way through their team," Cousins said. "So from a defensive standpoint, great pass rushers and also very good stopping the run. Talented secondary, very athletic, a lot of guys who are fast. Obviously the scheme itself can be very complex and throw a lot at you. It'll be a great challenge for us, but certainly will be something that we need to be well prepared for and be ready to adapt as the game goes on."

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