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Redskins QB battle? Backups under microscope

FootballPro FootballJay GrudenKirk CousinsCleveland BrownsWashington RedskinsRobert Griffin III

The Sports Xchange

Redskins QB battle? Backups under microscope

Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy are behind Robert Griffin III on the Washington Redskins depth chart, but how the order at the position shakes out is a mystery entering Monday night's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.

McCoy signed with the Redskins on April 3 as the third quarterback behind Cousins and RG3, fueling speculation that Cousins could be traded.

Cousins played in eight games in his first two seasons as the Redskins backup, completing 114 of 203 passes for 1,320 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

McCoy appeared in four games for the San Francisco 49ers last year after spending his first three seasons with the Cleveland Browns. In his four-year career, he has completed 410 of 703 for 4,401 yards with 21 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He started 21 games with the Browns.

First-year head coach Jay Gruden talked with reporters Friday about his backups.

Gruden likes what he has seen so far on Cousins' preparation and work ethic.

"He's done great. You know, Kirk's handled it like a pro," Gruden said. "He understands the situation here. He understands it's Robert's job to lose right now but he's still coming in here, competing and battling every day. And, that's what a quarterback does.

"Whether you're the starter or not, you have to take advantage of the reps you get and they are few and far between sometimes, but I think he's done an excellent job. (He) and Colt both have been great in the quarterback room. There's been no controversy whatsoever. It's just been business as usual and they're all trying to get better and master this system and he'll be ready when his time comes. "

Gruden praised Cousins' value to the team.

"He's a good quarterback and you don't want to let quarterbacks out of your building if you don't have to. Obviously there's circumstances that could change that but right now we're happy with the quarterbacks that we have and there's no reason to change."

Gruden said McCoy understands his role with the team.

"He's handled it excellent also," Gruden said. "You know, he gets less reps than Kirk obviously, but he does a good job. He's got great command of the game. He's a very smart quarterback, very fundamentally sound. He's had great coaching throughout his career obviously and he's got a great wealth of experience as far as some of the plays that we're running.

"He's had some success in some -- he's seen some of them obviously when he's played before. So he's a good tutor for Robert also. So to have a veteran quarterback like Colt who's gone through it, even though he's still 27, he's started some games and been through some ups and downs in his career. To offer any insight is also very good, but I also know if need be, some teams have had to go to their third quarterback throughout the season and I feel good about Colt if he had to come in and play."

Gruden said that his starters will see roughly a quarter's worth of action against the Browns.

Brian Hoyer will start Monday at Washington, the second time the Browns have gone with the veteran quarterback over popular rookie first-round pick Johnny Manziel.

Gruden said the Browns' pass rush is an ideal test for RG3 and the offense.

"I'm familiar with Cleveland's personnel on defense, coming from Cincinnati, and then next week we get to play Baltimore who I'm familiar with, so it's going to be two great tests for us from an offensive standpoint," Gruden said. "Obviously defensively there's some elements that we also have to work out and be ready for which is a good test for them too.

"Every team in the NFL gives you different problems, but Cleveland's defensive personnel is obviously very good with Joe Haden, Buster Skrine and all those guys and then Baltimore the following week. So we'll get a good taste the next two weeks, see where we are and how far we have to go. "

Gruden couldn't get away from questions about his brother, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, being in the booth for Monday night's broadcast.

"He called a couple of my games last year in Cincy. Jon is Jon. He's going to be positive if he can but if I do something that's out-of-line ignorant, I'm sure he'll call me on it," the coach said.

Gruden said he will visit with his brother on Saturday.

"He'll be out here for practice Saturday and we'll be able to hopefully go out to dinner maybe Saturday night, or I might be tied up, but I'll be able to see him Saturday," the coach said. "Jon is obviously very good at what he does and he won't jeopardize what he does for my feelings. That's for sure. He never has."

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