Cousins has played Green Bay just twice in his career, most recently on Nov. 20, 2016, when he helped Washington pull of a 42-24 win at home. Previously, he faced the Packers in a Wild Card game during the 2015 playoffs. The Redskins were defeated 35-18.
On Sunday, Cousins will play at Lambeau Field for the first time and against the Packers for the first time in Purple. He said during his media session that he’s “grown probably in every area as a player and as a person” since the postseason loss to Green Bay.
“I’ve been through two-plus seasons since that playoff game, and obviously I’ve taken a lot of steps as a player and in my confidence,” Cousins said. “I think that’s true of all of us in the league – the longer we play, the more we’re out there, the more we’re able to be in the fire, and playing through mistakes and learning, it helps us be that much better the next time we go out.”
Cousins is looking forward to playing in the Border Battle and reminded media members that he was familiar with the division long before he began his playing career in the NFL.
“First game in the NFC North,” Cousins said. “I grew up watching the NFC North in both Chicago and the West side of Michigan, so it’s a great opportunity to join this rivalry and hopefully put my best foot forward and get off to a great start.”
Here are three other topics covered by Cousins during his podium session Wednesday:
1. Respecting Rodgers
Cousins doesn’t have an off-field relationship with Aaron Rodgers, but he doesn’t hesitate to tell the Packers quarterback when their paths cross that he watches his tape.
“He came into league much earlier than me, and I think he flies at a little bit different altitude than I do,” Cousins said. “He’s done a lot in his career and certainly a lot that a guy like myself is chasing and wanting to achieve a lot of what he’s already done.
“I tell him when I see guys like him … ‘I study you. I watch your film and try to learn from you because you’re a guy that I want to study and want to learn from,” Cousins added.
When asked if he had watched Rodgers return to Sunday’s game after suffering an injury and lead the Packers back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to win the game, Cousins said he not only watched the game but predicted the outcome.
“I found myself sitting on my couch, saying to my family and friends that I was watching with, ‘He’s probably going to bring him back,’ ” Cousins said. “I’ve been watching him for years now and know what he’s capable of doing. And then sure enough, he did. You’re really not surprised because you know what he’s capable of.”
2. Scouting a young secondary
When the Vikings travel to Green Bay this weekend, they can anticipate facing young corners in the Packers secondary.
With the exception of 12-year corner Tramon Williams, the Packers have two rookies in Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, and they drafted Kevin King in 2017.
Cousins said he’s careful not to make assumptions about a player’s talent level based on experience, however. He used the example of Saints corner Marshon Lattimore who “played like a veteran” during his rookie campaign last season.
“Many times if you have great movement, great ball skills, you have a confidence about you, whether you’re young or old, you’re going to be tough to go against,” Cousins said. “Other times, you’ll get a veteran corner who you can fool because his eyes are in the wrong place or he’s playing with a technique that you can play advantage of. So you just try to study their techniques, study their approach, what they like to do, and then go out there and trust your eyes, follow your rules and try to throw the ball with accuracy.
“When you’re a four-, five-, six-year veteran, you certainly factor that in to your understanding of an opponent [compared] to a guy who’s a first- or second-year player,” Cousins added. “But again, it comes down to scheme. If a guy’s a really good corner and you tell him, ‘Hey, go cover that guy,’ if he’s great covering that guy, he doesn’t need to know a whole lot else. If you’re good, you’re good.”
3. Cook as a pass catcher
In Dalvin Cook’s first regular-season action since tearing his ACL in Week 4 of last season, he reminded teammates and fans alike of his versatility.
Cook not only rushed for 40 yards but also recorded six catches for 55 yards through the air.
Cousins emphasized how valuable it is that Cook can be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield.
“I think in this league when your running back can catch the football, that’s a huge benefit. I think some of the best running backs in this league are guys that get involved in the passing game,” Cousins said. “You look at the guys who are winning end-of-season awards, it’s because they got involved in the pass game, not just running the football, and hopefully we can have Dalvin involved all year long in both phases of the run and the pass. Because once the football’s in his hands, really good things happen.”