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Closing thought: Kirk Cousins is the right rookie for an unattractive job

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Robert Griffin III (#10) and Kirk Cousins (#12) participate in drills during Redskins' training camp at Redskins Park, Ashburn, Va., Monday, July 30, 2012.  (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times) Robert Griffin III (#10) and Kirk Cousins (#12) participate in drills during Redskins' training camp at Redskins Park, Ashburn, Va., Monday, July 30, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

Kirk Cousins will fade into extended obscurity in three weeks if the Redskins’ plan for Robert Griffin III becomes reality. Cousins has played well, though, in the small sample size of practices and games we’ve seen. To this early point in his career, he’s helping the Redskins achieve their top offseason priority of establishing stability at quarterback.

Can you imagine the quarterback position actually being a strength for the Redskins? It’s a fascinating possibility, really, considering their overall ineptitude there over the last 20 years.

My first reaction to the Cousins draft pick was of disbelief. But in the next moment, I liked the pick. The Redskins’ top need, even above playmakers on offense, was stability at quarterback. Not only does Mike Shanahan appear to have drafted a backup that’s talented, he also found one with the personality and perspective to make this work.

“The goal is to, hopefully, in the long haul make Coach Shanahan look like a very smart man,” Cousins said two days after his stellar second half in Chicago. “Hopefully, when we look back 15 years from now, people are going to be saying to Coach Shanahan: ‘What a smart pick. What a visionary. You saw a lot there in the long run.’”

If Cousins were selfish, he could look at the Seattle Seahawks’ decision to start Russell Wilson—who was drafted 27 spots ahead of him—in their preseason game this week and be upset about a lousy situation in which he’s blocked by a better prospect. That’s not the case, though, at least not publicly.

“I’ve been a backup before, and I understand my role on the team,” Cousins said. “I think my perspective is to play as well as I can in practices and preseason games to where the coaches are getting together and saying: ‘Man, we can’t wait to see this guy in action. We can’t wait to give him an opportunity.’”

Cousins excelled Saturday night after the Redskins shifted back to their generic, base offense from the three-tight-ends package they were evaluating with Griffin in the game. He has won over his teammates with many different elements of his game and personality.

“The other day, one of the guys mentioned to me how he’s like a computer, and I guess you can kind of see that,” veteran receiver Terrence Austin said. “He’s on point. He pretty much knows where everything is supposed to be. What I like about him is he’ll ask you questions about what you’re thinking on your route so he can kind of connect it. He has a strong arm. He’s mobile, and he’s real smart. I’m impressed with him so far. I think he’s going to be pretty good.”

If Cousins continues on his current trajectory, he’ll help accomplish the biggest requirement of the Redskins’ rebuilding effort. And regardless of the Redskins’ record at the end of this season, that would be a tremendous accomplishment.

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