With pressure mounting as the Washington Redskins are making a serious push for the NFL playoffs, backup QB Kirk Cousins has shown the ability to perform in limited action and is a viable fantasy option should he need to fill in for typical starter Robert Griffin III.
In Sunday's dramatic overtime victory at home over the Baltimore Ravens, RGIII went down for the second time this season in FedEx Field. Despite his best efforts, he had to exit the game with an ailing knee.
As Rick Snider of the Washington Examiner reports, though, the injury wasn't as serious as it initially appeared:
RG3 has right knee strain, return doubtful.— Rick Snider (@Snide_Remarks) December 9, 2012
What was staggering about Cousins was the way he entered the game. The rookie out of Michigan State fired a 15-yard completion after relieving Griffin for a second time in a matter of minutes, then found Pierre Garcon for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 28-26.
Considered more of a pocket passer, Cousins surprised the Ravens defense when offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called a quarterback draw. Cousins put his head down at the goal line and plunged in for the tying two-point conversion.
Although the deciding drive that led to Kai Forbath's game-winning, 34-yard field goal was keyed by a 64-yard punt return from Richard Crawford, Cousins was the one who got them there.
Now, of course Cousins is not going to bring the same dynamic running ability that Griffin's world-class speed provides for the Redskins offense. But another rookie—sixth-round pick Alfred Morris—has proven he can carry the load no matter what the situation.
With Morris as a rock to lean on, play-action passing should still be extremely effective for Washington even without Griffin's phenomenal mobility.
The recent return of No. 1 receiver Garcon has also helped the offense immensely and will provide Cousins with a go-to target. Another encouraging sign from the Ravens game was the performance of Leonard Hankerson, who had four catches for 67 yards, including a key 3rd-and-6 conversion on the tying drive begun by Griffin.
Combine the potential emergence of Hankerson and the reliability of Garcon with wily veteran Santana Moss and the team's reception leader in Josh Morgan, and Cousins has a plethora of weapons to work with.
It remains to be seen whether Griffin's injury is severe enough to keep him off the field. If he does miss time, though, Cousins is more than capable of stepping in and stepping up, as he did by essentially saving the Redskins' season on Sunday.
Despite the relative inexperience, Cousins is worth a spot start at least in potentially facing a Cleveland Browns defense in Week 15 that entered today's action 24th in the league against the pass.