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Reps Important For Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

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Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy have continued to alternate second-team reps at training camp as the coaching staff is getting a good look at both before the preseason games.

As all eyes focus on Robert Griffin III during training camp practices, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy are quietly engaging in a battle for the team's main backup quarterback role.

Each day, one quarterback takes all the reps with the second-team while the other takes them with the third-team. The next practice session, they've switched.

It's all part of a plan laid out by head coach Jay Gruden.

"I just take advantage of the reps that I get, and I feel like I'm having a pretty good camp so far," said McCoy, the eldest member of a young quarterbacks group at just 28 years old.

Cousins, meanwhile, said that throughout the various practice sessions, he's feeling the effects of having quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, someone he didn't have at his disposal when he struggled at times last season.

"The reads -- tightening down the reads -- he's really refined them for us," Cousins said. "There's meetings now where Cav can handle the meeting and [offensive coordinator] Sean [McVay] can go do something else. So Cav can help Sean be more effective."

Last season, both quarterbacks got an extended look as the team's starting quarterback.

While Cousins dazzled against Philadelphia, winning FedEx Air Player of the Week honors, and was effective early three weeks later against Arizona, his play was marred by fourth-quarter interceptions.

McCoy, meanwhile, provided a veteran savvy to the huddle and won back-to-back games for the Redskins including an overtime victory over Dallas, but was sidelined with a neck injury late in the season.

The Texas product said he used the offseason to get healthy and ensure his body could be ready to go if his number is ultimately called.

"I really just did a lot of neck strengthening stuff," he said. "It was real unfortunate to end the season last year like I did, so really focused on, and then overall going into my sixth season, studying the game a lot. I wanted to come in here in the best shape that I could, because in the role that I'm playing right now, you just never know when you need to be counted on."

Cousins this offseason focused on better decision making and  ball security, which can obviously help put points on the scoreboard and not put the Redskins' defense in a hole.  

"Yeah, you've got to score points, you've got to come away with points in the red zone and touchdowns as often as you can," he said. "It is a point of emphasis and if we can improve on that area and improve on third downs we'll be much tougher to stop. It's something we're working on."

Gruden admitted alternating reps as backups has been difficult for both Cousins and McCoy, especially after getting a significant amount of reps last season, but that both have been impressing over the last few months.

"Both of them are making their case known," Gruden said in June. "Both of them, like I said before, have had a taste of the starting quarterback job in the NFL and they both want it back real bad. They're doing an excellent job at competing every day. It's killing them on the inside, I know it. They're competing for the backup job right now, but, they are doing an excellent job and you can see them all progressing at a good rate."

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson also knows first-hand how hard the quarterbacks are working, Robert Griffin III included.

"I honestly think I definitely have seen progression in RGIII and all the other quarterbacks this year too, as well – Kirk and Colt," Jackson said this week. "I think it's a year-to-year base — them guys are young. They have some experience early in their career. They just kind of have to build on that. But I've definitely been seeing them guys out here making some great throws, tremendous reads and getting the ball to where it needs to go to at the right time."

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