By Tarik El-Bashir
Kirk Cousins grew up in the Chicago suburbs dreaming of someday suiting up for the Bears.
On Saturday night, he’ll get the chance to play quarterback at Soldier Field – as a member of the Redskins, not the home team.
“It’s neat to come full circle, to grow up around the Chicago Bears as a fan and now to be able to play against them,” said Cousins, the Redskins’ fourth round draft pick in April.
Some of Cousins’ best memories as a youngster are of attending Bears games with his father. Over the years, Don Cousins, a minister, hosted a prayer sessions with Bears greats Mike Singletary and Leslie Frazier, Kirk Cousins said.
“I told Rex I was a Bears’ fan growing up,” Cousins said of Redskins’ backup quarterback Rex Grossman, Chicago’s first round draft pick in 2003. “I remember when he was drafted. I was quarterback in middle school at the time, and I was excited to hear that the Bears had drafted a quarterback.”
“I remember as a junior in high school driving down on a Sunday night with my Dad for a game against the Falcons,” Cousins recalled about Chicago’ 16-3 victory over Atlanta in December 2005. “Rex was injured and he came in [during] the second half and led a comeback. Michael Vick was the quarterback of the Falcons. …I think it was negative 5 degrees that day.”
Cousins won’t start the Redskins’ second preseason game in his hometown. That distinction will belong to fellow rookie Robert Griffin III, who is scheduled to play the entire first half with Washington’s starters. In the second half, Cousins said he expects “to get a quite a few snaps” in front of a large contingent of family and friends.
On the field, Cousins hopes to be as comfortable. The 23-year-old completed 9-of-22 pass attempts for 74 yards and an interception in the Redskins’ 7-6 victory over the Bills last week.
Cousins is listed as the Redskins’ third quarterback behind Griffin and Grossman, but he’s a lock to make the 53-man roster. Cousins is being groomed to be Griffin’s full-time backup next season.
“It takes a game or two to tighten things up, gain some confidence in the guys around and know where they are going to be and what they are going to do,” he said. “I feel good about this game.”
Playing well and seeing some familiar faces aren’t all Cousins is looking forward to, however. According to a post on his Twitter account Thursday night, he’s also jonesing for a slice of deep dish from his favorite Chicago area Pizzeria.
“Excited to play at Soldier Field Sat night – born & raised in the Chicago suburbs,” Cousins tweeted. “Perry’s Pizza in Park Ridge is callin my name.”