=== Griffin benched, Cousins to start for Redskins ===
Ashburn, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has
made a change at quarterback and will start Kirk Cousins instead of Robert
Griffin III for Sunday's game against Atlanta.
In fact, Griffin won't play again this season.
Shanahan gave an indication that he might make the switch on Monday, saying
such a move would be to keep Griffin healthy heading into the offseason. The
second-year quarterback made a quick recovery from major knee surgery
performed last January, but has struggled for most of the 2013 campaign and
Shanahan said Wednesday the quarterback has taken far too many hits recently.
After conferring with owner Daniel Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen,
Shanahan said Wednesday the decision to sit Griffin was made in the best
interests of the player.
"At the end of the day we felt the best thing to do for Robert was to not play
him, so he can go into an offseason healthy," said Shanahan on Wednesday. "Any
time you miss time in the offseason, it sets you back. A quarterback needs an
offseason program, it's important to him."
Griffin appeared disappointed by the move, but said the decision was out of
"Coach decided to shut me down for the rest of the season," said a dour
Griffin on Wednesday. "I expressed my desire to play, but he explained his
reasoning and I have to do whatever I can to help Kirk and the team.
"(Shanahan) just wanted to make sure I got to the offseason free of injury so
I could have a really good offseason."
The Redskins have followed a surprising division title from 2012 with a likely
last-place finish this year. They've lost five straight games and are just
3-10 heading down the stretch.
Griffin was the NFL's top offensive rookie last year when the Redskins won
their final seven games and captured the NFC East title, but he suffered a
significant knee injury during the team's first-round playoff loss to Seattle
The former Heisman Trophy winner's rehab process during the offseason was the
biggest story for the Redskins heading into training camp. There had been
speculation that he may have come back too soon, but all indications are that
he is now healthy with three games left.
"Every player wants to play," Griffin added. "Any quarterback wants to finish
out the season with his team. It's coach's decision and you have to respect
that authority. In this instance, he's telling me to shut it down and I can't
Griffin has completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,230 yards with 16
touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season. His rushing numbers have
plummeted greatly from a year ago, with just 489 this season compared to 815
"I think it was tough enough, coming off (the injuries)," Shanahan added,
emphasizing that he had the support of Snyder and Allen in the decision. "At
the end of the day, if you miss the whole offseason again, the chances of
coming back again would be very, very tough and I didn't want to put him in
that situation again. I don't think it's worth the risk for this
Cousins, a fourth-round pick by the Redskins a year ago, made one start last
season in place of an injured Griffin and this year has appeared in two games.
He has completed 12-of-25 passes for 107 yards with two interceptions in his
limited action this season.
"I think it's a great opportunity to show what I'm capable of," said Cousins
on Wednesday. "Football's a team game and you're only as good as the guys
around you. The guys are going to help me and I'm going to help them. We're
going to do our best to get a win against the Atlanta Falcons."
Cousins said he doesn't believe he is auditioning to be the quarterback for
"Even as I start this week, I believe this is Robert's team," Cousins said.
"He is the franchise quarterback."
Griffin will be the third quarterback on Sunday and Rex Grossman will be the
backup to Cousins.
The Redskins, following Sunday's tilt, will close the year against division
rivals Dallas and the New York Giants.
12/11 14:24:03 ET