The Washington Times - December 16, 2013, 03:25PM

It is an issue Rex Grossman has faced before in his own career. He knew better than anyone at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon what Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins was about to experience.

Grossman himself hasn’t taken a snap in the NFL since 2011, spending almost all of the past two years as the deactivated caddy to starter Robert Griffin III and Cousins, Washington’s two quarterback draft picks in 2012.

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With Griffin deactivated during a dramatic week at Redskins Park, Cousins stepped in and had his moments in a 27-26 loss to the Falcons. He threw three touchdown passes, but was also intercepted twice and fumbled. For a player who was limited with a right foot injury during the preseason and had seen only limited playing time this season against Denver (Oct. 27) and Kansas City (Dec. 8), it was a difficult situation.

“Just making very quick decisions, making the right decisions, getting the ball out quickly and accurately and just conducting the offense like a vet,” Grossman said. “[Cousins] hadn’t really played at all. The offense for the most part looked smooth. It’s hard to just step in as a backup late in the year, period. But for a young guy to step in and play as well as he did, I thought he did a hell of a job.”

Cousins has talked openly this season that the Redskins are Griffin’s team long term, but that he one day hopes to run his own NFL club and have a major impact on a city. So Sunday’s game wasn’t just about building his trade value, as some have speculated. It is also an audition for Cousins. So are the final two games against Dallas and the New York Giants. If he can’t supplant Griffin here, he has to get team’s attention when the opportunity arises. 

“It’s even harder, right?” Grossman said. “You’re trying to get a reputation as a great quarterback and establish yourself so everything’s magnified. So it’s even harder in that regard. I thought he did a good job.”

As for Griffin, Grossman said they both tried to talk to Cousins on the sidelines when offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan didn’t have his ear. FOX television cameras backed that up. But Grossman also understood how hard the day was for Griffin, who is healthy, but won’t play the rest of the season. He tried to limit his advice to Griffin during the week because he didn’t think Griffin needed to hear it. But he also didn’t stay completely quiet.

“I may have said it because I couldn’t help myself,” Grossman said about what he told Griffin after the fallout from his benching dominated sports headlines all week.

“It’s a tough situation, but at the same time [Griffin is] a good person and he’s got a bright future,” Grossman said. “He’s the franchise quarterback. I think this situation is just tough because it’s so…dramatic. And he’s handled it with class and just gone with it. It’s not that big a deal, I think. Really. In my opinion.”

Not that big a deal? An NFL team just benched its star player for what coach Mike Shanahan has said was for Griffin’s long-term benefit. But that’s hard for any 23-year-old to see. In the present it can look like a straight benching for ineffectiveness. How can Grossman say that? Because he believes Griffin’s career ultimately will be judged on far more than this one season and this one stretch of four games where he won’t play. 

“I think that he’s going to have all the opportunity in the world to be successful as he wants to be,” Grossman said. “And he’s got a long time to get ready and…he’s doing that. I think he understands that. Everybody does.”