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Redskins to start Cousins, sit RGIII

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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. "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.

According to Shanahan, he mandated the full support of the front office and didn't want to hear about a change of heart down the line.

The Redskins (3-0) are in last place in the NFC East and the move was made to protect Griffin from injury in the team's remaining three games. Griffin suffered a major knee injury in the Redskins' playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in January but returned in time for the start of the regular season.

Cousins said Griffin is handling the news professionally.

"I do believe that Robert is the franchise quarterback here in Washington," Cousins said. "He was drafted No. 2 overall -- a lot of picks were traded to get him. I'll say it again, even as I start this week, I still believe it's his team. That's the reason they're resting him. He's the starter of the future."

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."

Cousins, a fourth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, played in three games last year. He started against the Cleveland Browns and led the Redskins to a victory, finishing his rookie season with 33 completions in 48 pass attempts for 466 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.

This season, Cousins has appeared in two games, including last Sunday's 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and has thrown for 107 yards.

"I think that it is a great opportunity to show what I'm capable of," Cousins said. "But football is a team game, and I'm only as good as those guys around me. ... This is about the Washington Redskins and doing what I can get a win."

Griffin struggled this season after his quick recovery from the knee injury. But his mobility is not the same as when he led the Redskins to the playoffs last year and was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the year with 3,200 passing yards and 815 rushing yards. In the the past five games alone, Griffin was sacked 24 times.

"It's a tough time -- there's tests going on right now," Griffin said. "God is testing me. You just have to look at life a different way in times like these."

Griffin has not talked with owner Dan Snyder about being shut down.

"That's a whole 'nother deal," he said. "It's Mike's decision."

While Shanahan's future up in the air with the Redskins, Griffin indicated that there's still support for the coach among the players.

"I think that's the general misconception is that players in this locker room want people gone," Griffin said. This is a tough time for everybody. Who knows what way it will go."

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