Cousins to start for injured RG3 on Sunday

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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