Kirk Cousins grew up in the Chicago suburbs dreaming of someday suiting up for the Bears.On Saturday night, hell get the chance to play quarterback at Soldier Field as a member of the Redskins, not the home team.Its neat to come full circle, to grow up around the Chicago Bears as a fan and now to be able to play against them, said Cousins, the Redskins fourth round draft pick in April.Some of Cousins best memories as a youngster are of attending Bears games with his father. Over the years, Don Cousins, a minister, hosted a prayer sessions with Bears greats Mike Singletary and Leslie Frazier, Kirk Cousins said.I told Rex I was a Bears fan growing up, Cousins said of Redskins backup quarterback Rex Grossman, Chicagos first round draft pick in 2003. I remember when he was drafted. I was quarterback in middle school at the time, and I was excited to hear that the Bears had drafted a quarterback.I remember as a junior in high school driving down on a Sunday night with my Dad for a game against the Falcons, Cousins recalled about Chicago 16-3 victory over Atlanta in December 2005. Rex was injured and he came in during the second half and led a comeback. Michael Vick was the quarterback of the Falcons. I think it was negative 5 degrees that day.Cousins wont start the Redskins second preseason game in his hometown. That distinction will belong to fellow rookie Robert Griffin III, who is scheduled to play the entire first half with Washingtons starters. In the second half, Cousins said he expects to get a quite a few snaps in front of a large contingent of family and friends.On the field, Cousins hopes to be as comfortable. The 23-year-old completed 9-of-22 pass attempts for 74 yards and an interception in the Redskins 7-6 victory over the Bills last week.Cousins is listed as the Redskins third quarterback behind Griffin and Grossman, but hes a lock to make the 53-man roster. Cousins is being groomed to be Griffins full-time backup next season.It takes a game or two to tighten things up, gain some confidence in the guys around and know where they are going to be and what they are going to do, he said. I feel good about this game.Playing well and seeing some familiar faces arent all Cousins is looking forward to, however. According to a post on his Twitter account Thursday night, hes also jonesing for a slice of deep dish from his favorite Chicago area Pizzeria.Excited to play at Soldier Field Sat night born & raised in the Chicago suburbs, Cousins tweeted. Perrys Pizza in Park Ridge is callin my name.
Trent Williams wasn't at the Redskins' mandatory June minicamp or any of their OTA sessions, either, with reports suggesting he wants more money, is upset with the organization's medical staff or a combination of the two.
But even by not attending any offseason practice, Williams showed the Redskins something very important.
If he's not at left tackle for the team in 2019, the entire offense might fail. Not having their anchor on the left side could be an anchor to the whole campaign.
Even in sessions where the defensive line wasn't playing with full ferocity, they often times had no problems getting into the faces of Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Jay Gruden absolutely noticed. It was impossible not to.
Yes, it's necessary to point out Williams wasn't the only one missing up front. In fact, the collection was basically made up of second-stringers.
However, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are all slated to be back when meaningful football resumes. Gruden, the passers and the running backs don't have to worry about them.
Yet they should all be quite petrified at the thought of not having No. 71 around.
A massive reason why is because of the present choices behind him. Ereck Flowers was brought in to try and be used at left guard, but with Williams absent, he saw heavy action on the outside. The results reminded everyone there of why he's being moved to the interior.
Aside from Flowers, the 'Skins have players like Tyler Catalina and Timon Parris on the roster. They fared better than Flowers when the media was able to watch practices in Ashburn, but they're nowhere close to being starting-caliber options, let alone ready to serve as replacements for one of the franchise's top contributors of the 2000s.
That's a major factor into why it feels like Williams holds the leverage in his standoff with the Burgundy and Gold. There are other factors as well.
Whether or not Haskins wins the job coming out of Richmond remains to be seen. With that being said, the 15th overall pick will eventually take over as signal caller, and figures to take over for the long-term future. Haskins' early career beginning with someone other than Williams protecting him is the opposite of ideal.
Then, there's the fact that many decision makers believe the Redskins are "close" to breaking through. That step forward will not happen if Williams isn't suiting up.
Now, the team could just wait Williams out and see if he's really committed to the reported "vow" he's taken to never play in DC again. Would he still be content to not show up once he starts losing out on hefty game checks?
That's something the front office may decide to find out, and that route could easily force Williams into a place where he has to make the first move. It's a card they're holding, and a key card at that.
But still, the Redskins have a head coach who badly needs to succeed starting in September, an offense predicated on running the ball, a prized young QB about to embark on his NFL life and leaders up top who could use positive results on the field.
All of that is largely why, in his Tuesday story, JP Finlay wrote that perhaps improving Williams' contract and getting him back in the locker room appears to be how this'll all play out.
The storyline this offseason absolutely wasn't supposed to be about a battle between the Redskins and Trent Williams, but as of now, that's the topic everyone's talking about. It's now in Washington's best interest to ensure it doesn't carry over beyond Week 1.
For that to happen, it seems like the team will have to appease the player. That's not common in the NFL, but not many players find themselves with the leverage Williams possesses.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS
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Following a growing trend, the Philadelphia Eagles cut fan access at training camp way back. Way, way back actually.
The Eagles will open just one training camp practice to the public, and what's more, the team will charge fans to watch. To watch the Eagles lone public training camp session will cost $10, but it's important to note that the proceeds will go the Eagles Autism Challenge, per an ESPN report.
Raising money for charity is admirable. That's not a debate.
Still, Philadelphia might be on the forefront of an NFL wide trend that significantly limits fan access to teams during training camp. Last year, the Eagles held two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field that fans could attend. This year, it's just one, and by putting it at their home stadium changes the atmosphere too. For some fans, it might be great to get to see the stadium without paying game day prices, but for others, the up-close access of training camp will be greatly missed.
The Redskins were widely mocked nearly 20 years ago when they moved training camp sessions to their practice facility in Ashburn and charged to watch the practices. The outcry was deserved, not to mention that by charging to watch practice allowed other team's scouts to attend. The NFL changed a rule in 2017 that opposing scouts are not allowed to watch a team's practice regardless of cost.
Other teams around the league are slowly pulling away from the traditional training camp experience of going away for a few weeks of practice. In the NFC East, the Eagles and Giants hold their camps at their facilities while the Redskins and Cowboys travel. Dallas does their training camp in Oxnard, California, while the 'Skins go to Richmond.
Washington's deal with the city of Richmond expires after training camp in 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Redskins training camp practices after that, especially as the team wants a new stadium. Any new stadium would probably include facilities to hold training camp practices, similar to the Giants in New Jersey. Additionally, the promise of training camp practices could be part of the negotiations for a new stadium.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
- Trent Williams: The latest with Trent and the Redskins
- Brains and Brawn: Love graduates from Stanford
- Friendly competition: Payne talks D-line's bet