- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins put up fabulous numbers against Chicago on Saturday night: 18 of 23 passing for 264 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 154.1. However, the negative elements of his performance resonate just as strongly in his mind.

“I think I gained some confidence but you go back and you watch the film realizing it’s never quite as good as you think it is,” Cousins said. “There were some footwork things I’d like to change; some plays that maybe I got away with; some different reads that, sure, they worked on Saturday night, but in the long haul if you keep doing that, you’ll die by it more than you’ll live by it.”

Cousins’ unflappable pocket presence was a major reason for his performance. His confidence also grew as the game progressed. As it turns out, though, that led to some constructive criticism from coaches in a roundabout way.

From the Redskins’ 22-yard line in the fourth quarter, Cousins completed a 21-yard pass to receiver Aldrick Robinson on the left sideline. Cousins placed a perfect ball in to Robinson between a cornerback underneath and a safety over the top. For a rookie to make such a throw was beyond impressive.

It received mixed reviews, though.

“Just was playing off of feel and instincts,” Cousins said. “[Coaches] said, ‘Great throw, tremendous job, big gain. But your read would tell you to go elsewhere. We can’t coach you to do that, so the fact that you can do that is a plus-one, but in the long run stick to your reads.’

Looking back, Cousins attempted that throw because he was feeling it, kind of like a 3-point shooter who makes his first few attempts and gets hot.

“As you just start to feel better and get more confident, that’s the kind of throw you try to make,” he said. “I’m learning. I’m growing. We got coaches whose full-time job is to tell me all the things I’m doing wrong, so it doesn’t happen again. That’s what they’re doing, and I’m learning from it.”

Armstrong back in action

Anthony Armstrong on Tuesday morning went to the Redskins’ equipment room and exchanged his gold noncontact practice jersey for his normal white No. 13 jersey. The sprained right shoulder he suffered Aug. 2 has sufficiently healed.

Now Armstrong has work to do. The competition for the fifth — and possibly sixth or seventh — receiver spot is intense, and he’s behind after missing two games.

Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe are trending upward after catching touchdowns in Saturday’s preseason loss. The quality of Robinson’s routes has been exceptional. Briscoe caught six touchdowns for Tampa Bay last season — more than any Redskins receiver in 2011.

Armstrong knows his chances during the final two weeks for the preseason are limited, so he’s hoping his two-year body of work has a positive impact on coaches’ decision-making.

“They at least have something that they’ve seen for themselves versus what you see on tape,” Armstrong said. “Unfortunately, I’m coming off of a bad season, so usually it’s kind of, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Hopefully, there was enough good back in 2010 that actually weighs heavily on their mind that they can say, ‘OK he can definitely get back to this level of play.’”

Extra points

• Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis will announce his retirement Thursday at a news conference at Redskins Park.

• Fullback Darrel Young (left hamstring) is 85-90 percent healthy but likely will sit out Saturday’s game against Indianapolis. He might play in the preseason finale against Tampa Bay even though coach Mike Shanahan expects to hold the starters out.

• Linebacker Brian Orakpo (left shoulder/chest) and running back Roy Helu Jr. (Achilles tendons) were limited in practice. Shanahan hopes safety Brandon Meriweather (left knee) can participate in position drills Wednesday.

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