ASHBURN, Virginia — So this is the way things go in the life of Kirk Cousins, NFL starting quarterback: One moment, he's being criticized for throwing too many interceptions; a few games later, he's getting questions about a long-term contract with the Washington Redskins.
Asked Wednesday whether he could envision himself spending his future with the Redskins, Cousins deflected the query.
"In this league, things change and happen so fast that I've gotten myself in trouble when I start to think I can look down the road and predict things," he said. "I just take it one week at a time, one day at a time."
His next game is Sunday at the Carolina Panthers (9-0), coming off NFC offensive player of the week honors for the Redskins (4-5) in a 47-14 victory over New Orleans that featured a perfect passer rating, a career-high four touchdown passes and zero picks. That game continued a season-long pattern for Cousins: The Redskins are unbeaten when he avoids a pick and winless when he throws at least one.
It was also his second NFC player of the week award in a three-game span and raised the volume on chatter about whether it's time for the fourth-year QB drafted in the fourth round to get a big-money deal.
Until late in the preseason, when coach Jay Gruden benched Robert Griffin III, Cousins had been mostly relegated to backup duty in the NFL. In his first three seasons, he made nine starts. He's made that same number this season.
"It's a much different routine and a much different rhythm than when those starts are coming at sporadic times that are unpredictable," Cousins said. "You're able to build a rapport with your teammates and with the offense, with the coaching staff, with the system — and it lends itself well to developing much more quickly."
Others are also certain the chance to play regularly is a major reason for the QB's progress.
"I can't sit here and actually say that he's put stuff in his repertoire that he didn't already have. He's gaining game experience. He's never been handed the keys to a team. And I think that's a culture change to a person, saying, 'You go from not just playing in spots, but this team is yours and ... as well as you play will be as far as we go,'" Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said.
"He got his feet wet. He's just more comfortable in being that guy. That's the difference," Williams added. "It's not that he's made throws that he couldn't make before. He's always had a talented arm. He's always been a talented quarterback. It's just now it's all about him. The team is his."
Notes: RB Silas Redd was suspended four games without pay while on injured reserve for violating the NFL's policy for substances of abuse. Redd, a second-year player, is out for the season after injuring right knee ligaments in Washington's preseason opener in August. ... Among the players limited in practice: DL Chris Baker (ankle, rib), S Trenton Robinson (hamstring), LB Keenan Robinson (shoulder).