Named the Redskins' starting quarterback for 2015, Kirk Cousins says it'll be important to minimize Opening Day jitters and be sharp from the start vs. talented Dolphins' defense.*
Coming off of a training camp where he was firmly entrenched as the team's backup quarterback heading into the preseason, not many people would have envisioned a scenario in which Kirk Cousins would be taking the team's first snap under center during today's season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
One would assume that even Cousins himself would have been shocked if someone had told him of his starting role in the regular season just weeks ago, but according to the four-year pro out of Michigan State, taking up the reigns as the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback is something he has been preparing himself for all along.
"I think you have to prepare like you are the starter," said Cousins, who ended the preseason with 435 yards through the air and two touchdown passes. "If you're going to have a chance, I think you have to prepare like you're the starter and put a lot of work in to constantly build relationships and be leading. Now we are ready to roll."
Heading into a game in which the likes of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Cameron Wake are set to headline the Dolphins' heralded defensive line, Cousins preparation is set to be put to the test in his first game out.
With the change at quarterback for the Redskins and the Dolphins' own new and improved revamped defensive unit, Washington's chances for a strong start to the season have been cast as dim by many doubters around the NFL. But while the odds appear to be against them from the start, preseason talk means nothing once the first tackles fly in the regular season, and Cousins believes an Opening Day victory is ripe for the taking.
"You know, more than anything it's about executing," Cousins said. "The plays may not change much from preseason and if they do change it's more about just executing, having good attention to detail, and avoiding mistakes. If we do that, we put ourselves in a position to be successful."
When the bodies do start flying today, making sure that major threats like Suh and Wake are manageable throughout the proceedings is going to be a big test for both the opposing offensive line and the quarterback.
Working behind a new and improved offensive line, one that now sees new names such as right tackle Morgan Moses and right guard Brandon Scherff starting for the burgundy and gold, Washington's new starting quarterback will be hoping to make sure that his linemen are in position to block and that the offense is set up so that it can run smoothly and without problems in his opening act for the season.
"That's a big part of a quarterback's game," Cousins said. "All of the before the ball is snapped stuff, like identifying protections and getting the run fits correct, and getting everybody where they need to go. Being the guy that when you step into the huddle, the other ten guys play better because you're in there. So all those elements are a big part of playing the position of quarterback and are things that I'll take a lot of pride in as the season goes on."
Today's opener will perhaps be a source of flutters for many of the players that take the field in Landover, Md., and Cousins is hoping that his team can mitigate that problem by starting out strong and sticking to the game plan.
After all, the Redskins' new starting quarterback has been preparing for this moment for quite some time.
"I'm sure there'll be a lot of energy," Cousins said. "It's going to be important to, if anything, remain calm and try not to get too excited because the place is going to be rocking. It's opening kickoff weekend and it's going to be a special day, so it's going to be important just to stay within ourselves and take it one play at a time. If we do that, I think good things will happen. We're ready to go. It's been a great preseason and several weeks of work. We've been very productive and now we have to build on that foundation."