The Washington Times - December 5, 2013, 01:41AM

Even though the Washington Redskins were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday, coach Mike Shanahan said he will not bench quarterback Robert Griffin III at any point in the next four games to allow his backup, Kirk Cousins, a chance to play.
Cousins said Wednesday he understands that decision.

“I’ve had people ask me if I think that’s a greater probability, and I think when you look at it, Robert’s a young player too, and he’s getting better,” Cousins said. “He’s learning, and it doesn’t happen overnight, so to take him off the field so I can develop, then he’s not developing. Obviously, it’s a much bigger deal for him to get reps than for me, given that he’s the starting quarterback.

“It sounds nice to say that [I should play], but I think you’ve got to understand what that means for Robert. I’ll roll with whatever they decide, but you’ve got to see it from both angles.”

Cousins, like Griffin entering the final stretch of his second season, has played in only five games during his career. Four of those appearances happened because Griffin left the game with some type of injury; the fifth, a start and victory last year on the road against the Cleveland Browns, was the result of an injury Griffin sustained the previous week.

Griffin left the Redskins’ Oct. 27 road game against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter with an apparent left leg injury, and Cousins played the final 10 snaps, completing five of nine pass attempts for 48 yards and two interceptions.

Several television commentators, including former coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy, have each said Cousins should play at some point in the Redskins’ final games. They have cited the injury risk to Griffin and the issues he faced entering the season as he recovered from surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right knee, as well as the need to further develop Cousins, as reasons the backup should play.

“It hasn’t come up,” Cousins said, speaking about his conversations with the coaching staff. “I don’t anticipate it coming up. If it does, I’ll roll with it, but I haven’t had [that discussion] and I don’t think about it.”

Shanahan discarded those ideas on Monday, insisting that Griffin would play every snap over the next four games if he is healthy. Griffin did the same on Wednesday, insisting he would continue to play as though nothing had changed.

“That’s just outsiders looking in that just don’t understand the game of football,” Griffin said. “When it comes to a time like this, it’s easy for guys to check out. I think it would be real cowardly of me to check out and say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to play these next four games.’ It’s not who I am. It’s not who any competitive football player is.”

Cousins replaced Griffin as the first-string quarterback during offseason workouts, training camp and the preseason, and said he learned a lot during his second season. He’s been understanding of his role and supportive of Griffin since being drafted in the fourth round last April, and he said he would be willing to wait to earn the opportunity to play, no matter how long that takes.

“I’d love a chance, and I believe, like I’ve said before, that if I’m good enough, I’ll get that chance,” Cousins said. “I don’t need to force it to happen today or tomorrow. It may happen four or five years from now, but if it happens, it happens, and I’ll be patient and wait. And, if I’m not good enough, I’ve got to live with that.

“My job right now, rather than devote energy towards the future, which I can’t live into yet, is to make sure that in the present, I’m doing everything I can so that someday I am good enough to get that opportunity. You dream about those opportunities – you dream about that second contract and being able to be a leader of a team and as the result of being a quarterback on an NFL team, you really have a chance to have a positive impact on a city, which would be a lot of fun, too. All those things come along with being a starting quarterback, and my job is to make sure I’m working each and every day to make sure I’m good enough to get that opportunity someday.”