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Thom Loverro: Redskins can't fall in love with Cousins

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Thom Loverro

Kirk Cousins had a great day Sunday, completing 26 of 37 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Washington Redskins to a 38-21 win over the Cleveland Browns.

Don't fall in love with him. Never fall in love with the backup quarterback.

He is a fourth-round draft pick. If -- as has been speculated -- you can turn that fourth-round draft choice into two No. 2 picks, you do it and change your name to Houdini, especially when you spent draft picks like a drunken sailor to get your starting quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

There will be other Cousins. Draft another one in the late rounds next year and do what you did this season with both of your rookie quarterbacks -- put them in the hands of the Redskins' quarterback mentor, Rex Grossman.

Yes, the invisible Grossman has been instrumental in the development of both RGIII and Cousins this year, a valuable mentor who has played 10 years in the league and quarterbacked a team to the Super Bowl. He could be on the roster next year to do the same thing -- perhaps for another late-round rookie.

And even though Cousins is No.?2 on Mike Shanahan's quarterback depth chart, Grossman is still capable of winning a game or two for them in a backup role. If they have to count on him every week, he will be exposed for his decision making.

But Grossman could have led the Redskins to a win over the Browns on Sunday. He remains the insurance policy that would allow them to turn the Cousins pick into perhaps a cornerback or right tackle of the future.

Draft picks are the currency this franchise needs to grow, particularly next season if the Redskins are stuck with the $18 million salary cap penalty the NFL has imposed on them.

They emptied the bank to get RGIII, trading three first-round draft picks and a No. 2. Now the Redskins have a chance to put some of that back in their pockets, which, even though they are 8-6 and in first place in the NFC East, are still ragged and hardly full.

Needs remain everywhere -- the offensive line, the defensive line, defensive backfield. The success of the star quarterback has managed to cover for those needs. But the foundation is shaky, and the building blocks are draft choices.

Shanahan and Co. had to be thinking in part when they drafted Cousins that he was an investment they could turn into something greater. If the Cleveland game remains the bulk of Cousins' NFL resume going into the offseason, he may be attractive enough to a number of suitors -- the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buffalo Bills, maybe even the New York Jets -- to make the Redskins an offer they can't refuse.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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