After going through an entire offseason at 100 percent last year, quarterback Kirk Cousins wants to conserve more energy be ready for the season's grind ahead.
Each year that Kirk Cousins has been the Redskins' starting quarterback, he's taken stock of the previous season and reflected on the good and bad, and more importantly, the things he wants to change as he keeps the reigns as the leader of the offense.
Before departing for six weeks following the team's final day of minicamp practice, Cousins admitted that last offseason, still trying to prove to himself, maybe, that he was the team's starter for a reason, he was "treating every day like it was Monday Night Football against the Steelers."
That kind of mentality will understandably lead to burnout, he said, and after a season in which the Redskins missed the playoffs, Cousins gained greater clarity into the important facets of the offseason.
"It was like Wednesday before the Steelers game," Cousins said. "I said literally everything I have done to this point, which I felt like was a lot, means nothing. It has no value of any kind. You know, when the season is over, I will not be measured on any of it. And, so, that hit me like, 'Now it counts, now I've got to be ready, and I'm pretty exhausted.' So, that's all I was trying to get at."
That understanding, at least for the next six weeks, will manifest in more relaxing activities instead of reciting and memorizing plays "80 times." Cousins, an avid reader of biographies of the most esteemed people and athletes, has learned about tactics and preparation that lead to greater success.
"Eventually, you say, 'Hey, I'm going to be good' and just put [the playbook] away and be ready for practice the next day," Cousins said. "I've learned that you can go out there and practice just fine. It's a balance. Life, you know, in the middle lies virtue. It's never prepare, prepare, prepare like crazy with no rest and it's never, 'Hey, I don't need to prepare. I can just show up.' Somewhere is, I think, the healthy medium and that is what I am always trying to find."
That doesn't mean Cousins will give up on working out and staying in shape. He'll just be more cognizant of achieving the balance he hopes will help him be better prepared in his role as quarterback at the start of the season.
It's still a learning process on the field, too, for Cousins, who threw a couple of interceptions during practice taking some risks down the field and suffering from a few miscommunications. As he gets better acquainted with his receivers throughout training camp and the preseason, these issues will begin to resolve themselves.
For now, they're just part of the process.
"We're trying to get him to force the issue a little bit throwing the ball down the field and I think Josh [Norman] picked one and then we had a miscommunication with Josh Doctson and I think that's when D.J. [Swearinger] got his," head coach Jay Gruden said. "So I think he's doing a good job. I think the receivers are doing a fine job being on the same page. Today was a little misnomer a couple of times, but for the most part I feel pretty good about where they are."
As Cousins aims to relax a little more this summer, he'll still have a contract deadline on July 15 that looms, threatening to add some pressure to his time off. Cousins dismissed the idea that talks have become a source of stress in his life, pointing to his agent, Mike McCartney, as someone able to take the bulk of responsibility in negotiations. For Cousins, it's about "playing football and winning football games."
"I hired Mike [McCartney] because I trust him to do the job and I feel like he's done a very good job all the way along and while things he's told me I haven't always liked to hear or they haven't always been easy to act on, he's always been right as I look back," Cousins said, "So I have great trust in his counsel and his approach and I'll definitely be leaning on him as we go forward all the way through it."