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Five Takeaways: Kirk Cousins' Packers Week Presser


Here's five takeaways from Redskins quarterback Trent Williams' media session with reporters on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

1. Vernon Davis has been quite the surprise at tight end.

Through nine games, the tight end has 26 receptions for 382 yards, nearly matching his total from all of last season (395). Davis and Reed have become a dangerous combination, too, in recent weeks, dual threats that have given Cousins more opportunities down the field.

Cousins admitted that he wasn't sure what he would get from Davis at this point in the Maryland product's career when the team initially signed him, but, like his head coach said on Wednesday, he's been pleasantly surprised with his production.

"At his age, the number of years he has in his career and now being that this is his third team, I guess I wondered how much he had left in the tank, didn't know," Cousins said. "But it only took throwing it at a local high school one day in early April to realize he still had it. And I've kind of been scratching my head ever since that day wondering how we got him, how he got away from the places he's been. Very talented, a great teammate. He works really hard and he's made a lot of plays for us. So it's just been a positive all the way around."

2. Cousins doesn't need to get juiced up for a Sunday night game.

That's because Cousins is always juiced up for games, as he quickly amended.

"I'm juiced up every game, man," Cousins said. "There's really no such thing as 'Oh, now it's Sunday night and it's Aaron Rodgers, I'm going to try now,' you know?"

While the Redskins haven't historically done well with the national spotlight in prime time, Cousins hasn't thought anything about those struggles. Every game, as the close finishes have made aware, presents its own challenges, and Sunday's matchup with a struggling Packers team is no exception.

"You better bring it every single play," Cousins said. "One mistake, one step the wrong way could be the difference in a win or a loss no matter who you're playing, and Sunday night will be no different. So that's why your preparation, your focus, the communication with teammates and coaches has to be at a high level, otherwise they will expose you."

3. Spencer Long has handled the mental aspects of playing center well.

Head coach Jay Gruden mentioned on Monday that Spencer Long could be one of the top centers in the league for years to come, a statement that isn't said lightly. Since taking over for an injured Trent Williams in Week 3, Long has grown comfortably into the position for Cousins under center.

Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 11 game against the Green Bay Packers Monday, Nov. 16, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.

Cousins acknowledged that he can push and challenge Long because of his high ceiling, making reference to Long's pre-med opportunities before opting for football as an example of his intelligence.

"He's just done a really good job with the mental side of the game and obviously the physical side of actually being stout and pass protecting and making those run blocks," Cousins said. "He's still a very young player. There's still a lot of growth and production ahead, too. So I think that's the exciting part is that by no means has he reached his ceiling. I think he can continue to get better and better as a center for us."

As he and Cousins continue to work together during the second half of the season, learning how to communicate and recognize defensive patterns better, the team will continue to grow as well.

"He's done a really good job and been a big reason why we've been able to be pretty productive on offense," Cousins said.

4. Having Jamison Crowder back will help expose the Packers defense even more.

The Packers defense, which has been hampered by injuries at the cornerback position, has allowed 23 passing plays of more than 25 yards this season, better than only five other teams. The Redskins, meanwhile, rank fifth on offense with 23 passing plays of more than 25 yards.

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson's status for Sunday is still unclear at this point – he practiced Wednesday without pads – but if he's able to return, Cousins should look to take advantage of Green Bay's secondary, just as Tennessee did last week.

"He's made plays a lot – in practice, especially – where he's covered but he goes up and gets the football on a deep throw," Cousins said. "It's a unique ability that makes him elite. We have to keep trying to feed him and get opportunities for him because those plays are game-changing when he makes those plays for us."

5. Rob Kelley's productivity opens up the playbook.

The Redskins have leaned on more play-action passes over the last couple of games thanks in part, as Gruden said Wednesday, to running back Robert Kelley's ability to stay out of negative yardage situations. Kelley only had one instance where the Redskins lost yardage on one of his rushes.

That's allowed for more manageable distances on second and third down, presenting a challenge for defenses who have trouble committing to just the pass in those situations.

"It does make a difference," Cousins said. "It keeps our offense going in a positive direction. Play-action game can be effective for us. Some weeks it's there, some weeks it isn't. We just try to run the plays that are called and we try to put defenses in a tough spot where they have to think about a lot of different responsibilities throughout the course of the game."

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