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Cousins to start for injured RG3 on Sunday

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Cousins to start for injured RG3 on Sunday

WASHINGTON (AP) Robert Griffin III's sprained right knee will keep him out of the starting lineup Sunday when the Washington Redskins visit the Cleveland Browns in a game with vital playoff implications.

The Redskins announced Saturday night that fellow rookie Kirk Cousins will make his first career start as Redskins (7-6) try to run their winning streak to five games and keep the pressure on the first-place New York Giants in the NFC East.

Griffin tweeted: ``The decision was not my own... But I will be there for my team!!! In every way I possibly can''.

The Redskins did not say whether Griffin will be active for the game, or whether veteran Rex Grossman, who has been an inactive third-string quarterback for every game this season, will serve as the primary backup to Cousins.

Griffin, who is tied with New England's Tom Brady for the NFL lead in passer rating and whose popularity has soared in a few short months as a 22-year-old newcomer to the league, was injured when he was hit by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata late in regulation during last week's 31-28 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

An MRI revealed a mild sprain of the lateral collateral ligament. The No. 2 overall draft pick and last year's Heisman Trophy winner was limited in practice all week, favoring the leg heavily on Wednesday but moving considerably better Thursday and Friday.

But offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said during the week that a decision on Griffin will rely more on the stability of the knee and the risk of further injury rather than how well the quarterback can move in practice, and head coach Mike Shanahan indicated the final call would hinge on an doctor's re-examination of the knee on Saturday.

The results of the examination apparently didn't go RG3's way.

Griffin has thrown 18 touchdown passes and only four interceptions this season and has a 104.2 rating. He has also rushed for 748 yards, an NFL record for a rookie quarterback.

Cousins was drafted in the fourth round from Michigan State, a surprise selection given that the Redskins had already selected Griffin. He made his first appearance after Griffin suffered a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5 and threw one touchdown pass and two fourth-quarter interceptions in a 24-17 loss.

Then last week, Cousins went 2 for 2 in the Redskins' final drive of regulation after Griffin was injured, throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon with 29 seconds left and then running in the game-tying 2-point conversion.

Cousins has completed 7 of 11 passes for 137 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his two appearances. He has gained a reputation as a studious backup, benefiting from the fact that he and Griffin were brought along together in an offseason program and training camp specifically designed by Redskins coaches for quarterbacks new to the pros.

The Redskins were 3-6 before their bye week, but now they are one game behind the Giants and also one game behind the front-runners for the NFC's two wild card berths. Griffin has led the comeback, throwing for 10 touchdowns and only one interception during the four-game winning streak.

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Ravens coronavirus protocols made opt-outs an afterthought for Greg Roman and Don Martindale

Ravens coronavirus protocols made opt-outs an afterthought for Greg Roman and Don Martindale

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, NFL players and staff were tasked with a tough decision as training camp begun. They could either participate in the season and face the risks that come with it, or opt out if they felt unsafe.

For Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Don 'Wink" Martindale, the choice was easy. Based on what they've seen from the team and league in terms of safety, they never considered not coaching in 2020.

"It never really entered my mind," Roman said during a Zoom call with media on Wednesday.

"Well, I think with the protocol that’s been established by the league it's obviously a safe environment its football and I never thought about opting out," Martindale said. "I don’t think they would have ever brought us back if they thought it was a high rate of danger with the pandemic. I felt safe coming back and taking all precautions and protocol, wear our masks and do all of the six feet apart and social distancing."

RELATED: RAVENS WON'T RULE OUT QUARANTINING LAMAR JACKSON

While Martindale applauds the league's efforts to control the virus, which now includes daily testing through September 5, the Ravens have specifically made an effort to prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved.

From Lamar Jackson opting to become a "Bubble Boy" to Mark Ingram stating that a positive mindset and cautious behavior will benefit the league, it's clear the team has bought into the idea that a season will only happen if everyone is committed to following the protocols to a tee.

Additionally, Roman says he's been blown away with the technology brought in and the extra precautions Baltimore has taken in order to lessen the risk of infection. That includes a device that alerts someone when they are within six feet of another individual.

The pre-planning prior to arrivals and constant improvements were the reasons the offensive coordinator never had doubts about the campaign.

"Resources and planning that this organization put into the facility procedures, it’s a thought that never crossed my mind," Roman said. "Frankly the unbelievable prep forethought, resources, space, that everybody was able to come up with some great solutions, it never entered my mind. If I came and saw something different you never know but impressive what our organization has done in this unique situation for all of us."

With training camp just beginning and contact practices set to get underway soon, there are still numerous obstacles the league will have to face. But through the initial phase, the Ravens have shown that health and safety are their biggest concerns, and that approach won't change. That mentality made opting in the only reasonable choice for Martindale, Roman and others.

"We’re all in this together. Taking care of each other and each other’s families. Show your discipline and mental toughness, wear your masks in meetings," Martindale said. "I've never thought about opting out."

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Ravens team doctor won't rule out quarantining Lamar Jackson

Ravens team doctor won't rule out quarantining Lamar Jackson

The Ravens don't have any plans to quarantine the unanimous NFL MVP -- yet.

Head team physician Dr. Andrew Tucker spoke with local reporters on a Zoom call Wednesday afternoon on a variety of topics, including NFL safety protocols, mitigating COVID-19 concerns, and more. He also addressed a popular suggestion among fans online: quarantining quarterbacks.

No team wants to lose any of their depth, but some players and positions are clearly more critical than others. At the top of the list is obviously the team's quarterbacks, and few signal-callers are more essential to their team's success than Lamar Jackson is to the Ravens.

With that in mind, Dr. Tucker was asked if Baltimore is considering any plans to isolate Jackson and the other quarterbacks from the rest of the team, to take extra precautions that the position group doesn't see a coronavirus outbreak during the season.

"Not that I know of. I can't speculate on if things change in the community or change in the team, there might be a different approach. I wouldn't rule it out," Tucker said.

It appears that, for now, the Ravens aren't planning to turn Jackson into a true Bubble Boy. As an organization, they have taken countless steps to keep every player as safe and healthy as possible amidst a global pandemic, and they are trusting their protocols to keep Jackson on the field. But it's notable that Dr. Tucker declined to rule out the possibility of things changing down the line.

Obviously, most teams are in a state of flux in regards to COVID-19, and they all have more information everyday. The impact of the virus spreading both within the organization and the greater Baltimore community could lead the Ravens to reverse course in order to protect their most valuable asset.

Jackson, in his own words, hasn't had "one tick" of coronavirus in him yet. The Ravens are going to do everything they possibly can to keep it that way.

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