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Five Takeaways: Kirk Cousins's Saints Week Presser

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Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Trent Williams's press conference at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun Co., Va.


1. Cousins has always looked up to Drew Brees and modeled parts of his game after him.

It wasn't until the Pro Bowl this past offseason when Cousins finally had the chance to meet Brees, the quarterback who shares a Big Ten connection with him and who Cousins has admired from a distance for many years.

"I've just always admired his career going back to his days at Purdue – the way he has handled adversity, the way he's carried himself with class, the consistent production year-in and year-out," Cousins said. "He's stayed healthy. He's just been a consistent force there for the Saints. I love his game and the way he plays and I've been able to learn a lot from him, just from a distance, watching film and studying his game."

Cousins has studied the way Brees has approached the finer points of the game, namely in his preparation and focus in practice. It's an approach Cousins has tried to emulate in his young career for reasons that are evident in what Brees has accomplished.

 "I think the goal is to just watch other guys and how they've had success and study their game," he said. "He plays with such a good base and he's got great accuracy. He sees the field well, has good athleticism, moves around well, avoids sacks, completes a lot of passes. And so all of those things are things you say, 'That's a good recipe for success, a good model for success.' I think in that sense, you do try to pattern your game after great players like that."

2. Throwing under pressure is challenging to simulate in practice.

Some of the throws that Cousins made against the Vikings could be considered missed opportunities. He slightly overthrew running back Chris Thompson for a would-be touchdown and overthrew wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson in key areas. Part of that was dealing with the added pressure from Minnesota's defensive front.

Cousins said it's difficult to replicate game action during practice in that way, "because you can't go to the local park and play 11-on-11 football, unfortunately, like you can if you're an NBA player … you can go to the gym and play pick-up basketball and still get a decent feel of the flow of going up and down the court and playing the game," he said.

"Your best chance away from practice is to have a coach throw a bag at your feet and get as close as you can, which still isn't very close," Cousins added. "That's why practice is so valuable. That's why two-a-days are valuable. That's why OTAs are so valuable. You try to get a feel for it – and why game experience is so valuable and why as players play more in real-time games, they play better and better and better, because it's hard to simulate that in other situations."

3. With more repetitions and workload, running back Samaje Perine will only develop more of his skills.

The Redskins will once again have to adapt to more injuries. Running back Rob Kelley was placed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, meaning that rookie Samaje Perine will take over the bulk of the carries for the rest of the season.

Cousins, who has had a few issues handing the ball off to him throughout the season, believes that their rapport will get considerably better as he gets more reps under his belt and practices with the first-team offense.

Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 11 game against the New Orleans Saints Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.

"I would think that that will get better as we work together longer, that he'll get a better feel for how each exchange looks and I'll get a better feel for what he needs," Cousins said. "Those are certainly the kind of errors that can quickly change the course of a game and so they need to be avoided at all costs."

Cousins noted that pass protection is probably the most challenging part for a young running back entering the league, and expects improvements across the board as he carries more of the load.

"Just continue to give him those opportunities, those experiences," Cousins said, "and I think the pass game is really the growth that a running back needs to take when he first shows up in the NFL because of how many pressures are being thrown at them and how much responsibility we place on a running back in pass protection, and those are the places where he can grow and will grow. He has all of the tools, all the hardware, to be able to do that and become a really complete back in this league."

4. Time will tell if playing the toughest strength of schedule will benefit them later this year.

The Redskins have weathered a particularly brutal crop of opponents in their first nine games of the season, playing the toughest schedule in the NFL, and it doesn't get easier playing the Saints this Sunday. Will that help them down the road? According to Cousins, time will tell.

"I don't know, but we've stood toe-to-toe with a lot of good teams in this league," Cousins said. "We said it before we ever played a game that the margin for error is very small and the difference between teams that go 10-6 and 6-10 is very little. We knew that going into the season and, unfortunately, in some of those tight games we've come out on top and some of them we haven't. Hopefully here in this stretch of seven games, we can be the ones that come out on top."

5. The New Orleans defense has created chaos, but Cousins has the tools to match them.

Compared to years past, the Saints' defense has undergone vast improvements in 2017. They rank fifth in opponents' points per game (18.3) and tenth in sack percentage (7.76) and have some standout players in defensive lineman Cam Jordan and cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who has been a Rookie of the Year candidate.

Despite Cousins ranking third in the NFL with 2,474 passing yards, eighth in passer rating at 98.6 and has tossed 14 touchdowns while throwing just five interceptions, New Orleans should be a formidable opponent in the Superdome.

"I think they're well-coached," Cousins said. "I think it's a good scheme. I think they're creating pressure. It seems like they're getting after the quarterback, batting a lot of passes down at the line of scrimmage. It seems that their secondary is covering very well. They're creating confusion. They're changing up their looks and just kind of creating chaos and that's what good defenses do. It is going to be a challenge, especially in their environment and their stadium, to be on the screws and make sure we're all on the same page."

Cousins believes he's well-equipped when it comes to handling the pressures the Saints will throw at them.

"I think the things that you want to do to try to help with that are the things you do every week – negotiate arm angles, hold your eyes, don't stare down where you're throwing, have a quick release," Cousins said. "I think those are all things that I do pretty well. I think I have a quick release. I think I can move my arm angle to make those throws and so I think those are the same things you try to do every week."

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