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NFL roundup: Redskins to start Cousins, sit RGIII

The SportsXchange

Second-year quarterback Kirk Cousins will start at quarterback for the Washington Redskins on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons in place of Robert Griffin III.

Cousins said the coaches informed him that he would start this week. Rex Grossman will be the backup quarterback with Griffin a game-day inactive.

"I'm going to submit to the authorities above me and do what I'm supposed to do -- try to help this team win no matter what role I'm asked to take on," Cousins said Wednesday. "These are not the circumstances you necessarily want to be in when you start the season."

Coach Mike Shanahan hinted at a possible switch on Monday when he said if Griffin did not play this week that he would sit out for the rest of the season. He said Wednesday that he talked to owner Dan Snyder last week about the number of hits Griffin absorbed this season.

"I thought it was in his best interest and the organization to talk about it," Shanahan said, adding that Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen discussed shutting RGIII down.

"To be honest with you, I wanted to give Robert as many reps as he could possibly have. ... Sometimes you have to evaluate, when you are getting hit repeatedly, the risk-reward. With Robert, the hits were piling up on him. I was afraid we were going to set him back. I said, 'Hey, it's not worth it right now.'"

Shanahan said giving Griffin the opportunity to enter his third season with a full offseason presents the quarterback the best chance to "make the leap." Griffin spent last offseason rehabbing from ACL surgery.

Griffin was told the move was made with his health in mind, but he sid it did take him by surprise.

"I'm sure everybody knows by now, coach decided to shut me down for the rest of the season," Griffin said. "We talked, I expressed my desire to play, finish with my guys and see it through. He explained to me his reasoning. At the end of the day, it's coach's decision.

"I thought it was just another normal week; turns out it was not that way. I'm just going to continue to focus on getting better."

--Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman deferred on announcing a starting quarterback for Sunday's game at Cleveland.

Trestman said Wednesday that Jay Cutler's availability to play against the Browns would be determined by how he handles a late afternoon workout and his ability to avoid further problems with a sprained ankle. If Cutler is deemed healthy, Trestman indicated that he will return to the starting lineup in place of Josh McCown.

"He's been cleared from a standpoint of allowing us to work him out at full speed, and allowing him to make a decision and us to make a decision based on how he works out and how he feels after he works out," Tresman said.

Cutler suffered a high ankle sprain on Nov. 10 against the Detroit Lions during a game in which he was coming back from a muscle tear.

The Bears are 2-2 in McCown's four consecutive starts while Cutler has been out. McCown also won a start earlier in the season at Green Bay when Cutler had a torn groin muscle.

Trestman said he is optimistic about Cutler's return.

"But I've got to leave it open because we're working him out (Wednesday) and so I feel like ... (if) he feels good, I anticipate that we'll be moving forward tomorrow," Trestman said.

--Quarterback Aaron Rodgers' return this week for the Green Bay Packers appears unlikely, according to multiple reports, but he took some first-team reps with the offense on Wednesday.

Tight end Andrew Quarless said Rodgers took the first-team reps during a portion of practice that was closed off to the media.

"(Rodgers) looked real good today," Quarless said, via ESPNWisconsin.com. "It was good to see him out there, really working with the (No. 1) offense. He was out there before but wasn't working as much with the offense, but today he took some offensive reps, which is a great thing for the team."

Rodgers is experiencing pain in his broken left collarbone during practice and, while the Packers have yet not ruled him out for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, it does not look like he will be cleared to play, ESPN and other media outlets reported Wednesday.

A bone scan that was done last week showed the collarbone is not fully healed.

Backup Matt Flynn is preparing to against the Cowboys (7-6) in a key game for Green Bay (6-6-1), which remains in the NFC North race with Chicago (7-6) and Detroit (7-6).

Rodgers was injured Nov. 4 in a game against the Bears.

--New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning said Wednesday he is willing to talk this offseason about restructuring his contract if it becomes necessary to ease the burden on the team.

"I haven't thought about it, but if they come to me, yeah, we'll discuss it and figure out a plan," Manning said, via NJ.com.

The 32-year-old Manning is signed through 2015 at salaries of $15.15 million and $17 million over the next two seasons.

According to Spotrac.com, Eli counts for $20.4 million and $19.75 million over the next two years against the cap.

----The Denver Broncos will be without wide receiver Wes Welker for their AFC West matchup with the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night.

Welker will miss the game because of a concussion that he suffered in Sunday's 51-28 win over the Tennessee Titans on a hit by safety George Wilson, the Broncos announced Wednesday.

It was Welker's second concussion within the past month. The first came in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11, but he returned the following week to play against New England.

Because of the short practice week resulting from the Thursday night game, Welker had less time to pass the NFL's concussion protocol tests for clearance to play against the Chargers.

The 32-year-old Welker is the Broncos' second-leading receiver this season with 73 catches for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a scoring reception and 61 yards against the Titans on Sunday.

--Matt Cassel will remain the Minnesota Vikings' starting quarterback this week and running back Adrian Peterson hopes to be able to practice on Friday in preparation for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Peterson exited last Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter with a mid-foot sprain and has been wearing a walking boot. An MRI showed no structural damage.

"He can do things that most can't, in terms of coming back from injuries," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We were walking up the stairs a few minutes ago and I said, 'Hey, what do you think?' He said, 'I'll be ready, Coach; don't worry about me.' That's Adrian."

--Former NFL quarterback Craig Morton was part of a federal lawsuit filed against the NFL on Tuesday by former players who contend that they suffered long-term effects from head injuries.

The 70-year-old Morton is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, according to the 84-page lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in northern California.

The suit claims the league produced biased and falsified research that defied medical information on the impact of concussion-causing hits.

Morton played from 1965 to 1982 with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Denver Broncos. He threw 183 touchdown passes and 187 interceptions during his 18-year career. Morton started two Super Bowls -- one each for the Cowboys and Broncos -- but lost both.
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