Starting in RGIII’s place, the second-year Washington Redskins quarterback got up limping after attempting to scramble for a first down. Early reports by NFL Network’s Jeff Darlington indicated Cousins was not noticeably limping when headed to the locker room for evaluation:
Redskins QB Kirk Cousins (right foot) is headed to the locker room. He does not appear to be walking with a major limp.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 20, 2013
ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcasters eventually reported x-rays were negative and that the backup signal-caller sustained a mid-foot sprain.
The loss is a significant blow for the Redskins' preseason preparations. ESPN's Jon Gruden was gushing over Cousins before the game, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Jon Gruden on ESPN: "If I were a coach, I'd offer a first-round pick to the Redskins to get Kirk Cousins on my team."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 19, 2013
While that may be stretching it in true Gruden fashion, Cousins has proven to be more than a sufficient backup when standing in for RGIII. He posted a 101.6 passer rating in three regular season appearances last season and led the 'Skins to a big 38-21 win over the Browns during his only start of the year.
He wasn't very impressive in relief duty for Griffin during the team's postseason loss to Seattle, but not many quarterbacks were successful against the swarming Seahawks pass defense a season ago.
As it stands now, Griffin is on schedule to make his return to the field in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles, per the team’s official Twitter account:
With Cousins now injured, RGIII’s wishes to play in the team’s third preseason game against Buffalo will likely still be denied. The prospects of that happening weren’t too good to begin with, either. Shanahan previously said there was “no possibility” his star quarterback saw the field before the start of the regular season, according to NFL Network’s Dan Hanzus.
Griffin’s desire to return and Shanahan’s cautious approach have led to some perceived friction between the coach and player. However, RGIII attempted to diffuse those notions on social media:
There is no friction. There is an understanding between coach and player. That is all. Don't have to like everything— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) August 12, 2013
If we can learn anything from Cousins’ injury, it’s that maybe Shanahan’s handling of his recovering star quarterback has been the best route. Imagine if that was RGIII writhing on the ground in the second quarter of that preseason contest. Only it was his knee, not his foot.
Should RGIII take any live snaps before Week 1?
That’s a nightmare Redskins coaches and fans would never be able to get over.
So while the team will not have the benefit of having their starting quarterback on the field prior to Week 1, they will have their starting quarterback on the field in Week 1. And if Rex Grossman is the alternative, having RGIII even step onto the field in a live game situation before then shouldn’t be even a remote possibility for Shanahan.
Grossman has been a serviceable player during his rocky NFL career, but he’s not a dynamic talent who can keep defenses honest with his arm or legs. Hopefully beyond hope, Griffin stays where he is and is ready to roll on opening day—on the bench.