ASHBURN, Va. (AP) As Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins prepares for Saturday night's critical game against the Eagles, he admits some parts of his job have gotten easier.
For one, he's no longer glued to the spreadsheet he created before the season to map out his life in 15-minute, color-coded chunks.
''I said, `Alright, I'm in the cold tub at this time. I'm eating lunch at this time. On Mondays, it's spend-time-with-my-wife time.''' Cousins said Wednesday. ''The first few weeks you had to get used to that, but now ... 14 games in, you have it down to a science. And you have a routine where you can just turn your brain off.''
As Washington attempts (7-7) to clinch the NFC East with a victory over Philadelphia (6-8), Cousins' rhythm and comfort level have translated to on-field improvement.
Cousins has become the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for 300 or more yards six times in a season, with five of those coming over his past eight games.
Over that stretch, Cousins has thrown 16 touchdowns and three interceptions, helping the Redskins to a 5-3 record.
Overall, he has 22 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions, including eight picks over the first six weeks of the season, which coach Jay Gruden suggested was a crucial learning experience.
''Kirk is really good as far as remembering plays that happened before and understanding what we're trying to do,'' Gruden said. ''Every rep he gets, man, it's just fuel for him.''
He's the league's leader in completion rate (69.7 percent), and is seventh in completions (336) and ninth in passing yards (3,625).
''He's getting comfortable,'' left tackle Trent Williams said of Cousins, who has only 23 NFL starts despite four seasons in the league.
''This is essentially his rookie season you would say. First time being handed the reins to a team. He's definitely gaining experience, gaining maturity. He's coming into his own.''
Cousins threw four touchdowns in Sunday's 35-25 victory over Buffalo, including two to tight end Jordan Reed and a 77-yard pass to former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Jackson's 153 receiving yards were a season high, and Reed is second among tight ends with 74 receptions and tied for third with nine touchdowns.
Cousins said improving chemistry with those receivers has been a gradual process.
''I don't know that you suddenly cross a threshold and you have it,'' Cousins said. ''Obviously, it appeared on Sunday like we had it, but it's a process. It's not a sudden, snap your fingers and now you've got it.''
NOTES: Jackson (knee, foot) and S Dashon Goldson (rib, shoulder, knee) were among those who missed Wednesday's practice. Gruden said Jackson was ''still a little sore, a little beat up'' after playing through his injuries on Sunday, and called his absence ''maybe a veteran day.'' ... C Kory Lichtensteiger returned to practice and would be eligible to come off injured reserve for the playoffs. ... Washington signed TE Marcel Jensen to the active roster from the Bills practice squad.
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