Shanahan talks injuries to Cousins, Cofield
For the past seven months, the health of Robert Griffin III’s surgically repaired knee has been the dominant sports story in Washington.
But now there’s another Redskins’ quarterback to worry about.
Doctors are calling Kirk Cousins’ injury a “mild” mid-foot sprain and X-rays taken at FedEx Field came back negative during the team’s eventual 24-13 victory over the Steelers on Monday night. But anytime you’re talking about the man who might have to fill in for The Man, well, there’s some reason for concern.
“When I first did it, I didn’t feel like it was anything serious,” said Cousins, Washington’s insurance plan in case Griffin isn’t ready to play Week 1. “It feels almost like a sprained ankle, just in the middle of my foot.”
Cousins was hurt as he scrambled for a seven gain. Before he could get to the safety of the sideline, however, 6 foot 1, 234-pound linebacker Lawrence Timmons wrapped him up with a low tackle.
A few moments later, the entire stadium fell silent as Cousins dropped to the turf. It was reminiscent of the last time the Redskins played in Landover and the team’s other quarterback went down, albeit with a more serious injury.
“I was just like, ah that really sucks,” running back Roy Helu Jr. said. “I was on the sideline when he got hit and the dude just landed on him. I saw him wince, so I knew something was up. I just didn’t know how bad until he sat down.”
Cousins wasn’t sure right away, either.
“I felt it initially, and as I was walking back to the huddle I was trying to self-evaluate,” he explained. “As I started walking back to the huddle and feeling it, I just decided, ‘You know what?’ It’s preseason game No. 2 with a long season to go, now is not the time to try to be a hero.”
The sense in the Redskins’ locker room after the game was that Cousins avoided a serious injury. But it should be noted that the team’s medical staff was concerned enough to outfit him with an immobilizer boot and crutches.
Cousins said the plan is to have an MRI to make certain he didn’t suffer something more serious like a Lisfranc injury. Coach Mike Shanahan said that exam is scheduled for Tuesday.
“We’re going take an MRI, just to see,” Cousins said. “But the preliminary indications are not to worry about that.”
You’ll have to excuse Shanahan if he doesn’t completely exhale until Cousins’ MRI comes back clean.
“I asked if it was a possibility because we felt that way last time – the X-rays were negative [but] it wound up being a Lisfranc,” Shanahan said, referring to rookie safety Phillip Thomas' diagnosis earlier this month. “But they don’t feel that way at this time.”
Thomas was also initially believed to have suffered only a mid-foot sprain. He was supposed to miss a few days. But a follow up exam revealed a Lisfranc injury and he was subsequently lost for the season.
It doesn’t sound like anyone is overly concerned about a similar fate for Cousins. But the sprain alsocould mean Cousins’ preseason is over after only four and a half series, raising potential questions about his preparedness should be pressed into duty Week 1. Asked if he expects to play Saturday against the Bills, he said he won’t know until later in the week.
If Cousins isn’t able to suit up, that could throw a wrench into the Redskins’ normal preseason routine because it would leave third-stringer Rex Grossman to direct the offense in the team's third exhibition game, a contest that’s often treated as a dress rehearsal. Starters generally play the entire first half and sometimes into the third quarter.
“It’s hard to say right now,” Cousins said of his availability. “I’ll know more as they week goes on. Gonna take it day-by-day, but I’m sure I’ll a lot better as the days go on.”
The concern for Cousins' health arrived a few hours after the Redskins received some encouraging news about Griffin's.
Before the game, Griffin looked sharp as he completed a fast-paced workout as Dr. James Andrews watched closely from the sideline. Wearing a white t-shirt with “Operation patience” written in burgundy letters across the chest, Griffin sprinted, cut, rolled out and fired passes dozens of on-target passes.
Afterward, Andrews examined Griffin’s knee for the first time since July 23 and, according to Shanahan, “felt very good about his progress.”
“We’re going to have two more weeks of practice, and we’re going to put him through situations like we’ve been doing over the last three and a half weeks, and keep out fingers crossed that there isn’t a setback,” Shanahan said. “And, if there isn’t a setback, he should be ready for Philadelphia.”
But “should” doesn’t mean “will”. Which is why nerves at Redskins Park figure to be a bit frayed until Cousins is cleared to return to the field.
Asked about the bumps and bruises suffered by a host of Redskins on Monday night, Shanahan offered a healthy dose of caution.
“Twenty-four hours, 48 hours, it can change,” he said of the injuries. “Just like it did with Thomas, so you never really do know.”