In a day and age where one play and one game can earn an athlete a multimillion dollar contract and an opportunity to shine elsewhere, Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins should become the latest to capitalize.
Cousins stepped in under center for the 'Skins in their Week 5 matchup with the undefeated Atlanta Falcons after starting signal-caller Robert Griffin III went down in the second half. Cousins threw a 77-yard touchdown pass almost right away and temporarily gave Washington the lead with just over 12 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, Cousins would throw two back-breaking interceptions after that to squash the Redskins' chances. Still, his 5-for-9 effort resulted in 111 yards and a shining moment that proves the former Michigan State star is capable of starting right now for some struggling NFL teams.
If Griffin can't play in Week 6 vs. Minnesota, Washington will be in excellent hands with Cousins. After all, the rookie passer won't be nearly as pressed to move the ball and score points if he starts from opening kickoff.
But Cousins is not just a good fit for Mike Shanahan in DC, but for a handful of other struggling teams around the league. I can think of two in the AFC West who could use his services—the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.
Will Kirk Cousins be an NFL starter by Week 1 of the 2013 season?
Cousins has played just a few snaps and already has a longer season-best completion than Carson Palmer and Matt Cassel. If last season's Week 17 performance against the Detroit Lions made Matt Flynn a richer star, there's no reason Cousins' Week 5 gem won't catch the eye of some general managers around the league.
It's important to remember that Cousins was a star for the Spartans in college, and was a fourth-round draft pick last April. He's talented and the Redskins believed in him enough to make him their backup behind another rookie quarterback. Cousins completed 66-plus percent of his passes during his four years in East Lansing, and threw 66 touchdowns to only 30 interceptions from 2008 to 2011.
At 6'3", 209 pounds, Cousins has all the physical traits a coaching staff is looking for, and has proved in a limited number of snaps that he's a poised and promising talent. At age 24, he's a mature player and will only improve with more experience in the NFL as a starter.
It's just a matter of who is willing to make a run at him this season or the next.
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