During Sunday’s practice at Washington Redskins training camp, Alex Smith turned a routine pass play into a 50-yard scramble for a touchdown. The crowd cheered louder as Smith approached the end zone, thrilled at the new quarterback’s mobility.
One fan commented: “I don’t think Kirk would have found that hole.”
He wasn’t the only one who has been making the comparison. Former quarterback Kirk Cousins is with the Minnesota Vikings now, but he’s still very much in the forefront of the discussion at the Redskins’ camp.
It’s not just fans, either. Players’ comments praising Smith and his approach have been worded in a way that draws a contrast to the office’s previous occupant.
“He’s a leader,” offensive lineman Trent Williams said. “He’s always been a leader. You can tell he’s comfortable in that role. He’s what we needed.”
Cousins, meanwhile, has taken his turn from 1,000 miles away, noting that the Redskins were never serious about a long-term commitment.
“At some point, you have to be given a license to lead,” he told reporters in Minnesota. “You have to be given permission to take charge, and when you’re still having internal competition, it’s hard to do that.
“I’ve been in those situations in the past.”
Cousins and Smith are now forever linked thanks to the sequence of events that brought Smith to Washington, while Cousins signed with the Vikings.
Their performances will be compared all season, though when it comes to NFL quarterbacks, it’s never too early for analysis.
Redskins receiver Josh Doctson noted one difference.
“After every pass or something like that, I think he’ll come to me or he’ll come to the other receivers and he’ll talk about what he saw and what he liked about that,” Doctson said. “I think that’s a little different for me, and I like it. Just make sure we’re on the same page and we’re flipping the page at the same time.”
Redskins coach Jay Gruden hasn’t shown much interest in comparing the two, though that will continue to be tracked throughout camp.
For some Redskins fans, it seems success with Smith wouldn’t be enough — there also must be the bonus vindication of making the right decision by letting Cousins go.
Those verdicts are years away, but Smith is already drawing praise from Redskins teammates, as would be expected of a new player with his background.
On Sunday, cornerback Josh Norman complained that because Smith isn’t making mistakes, Norman isn’t getting much work during scrimmages.
“I mean, what the heck?” Norman said with a laugh. “This guy’s so frustrating.
“He’s so precise right now, not making mistakes. That’s the biggest thing we’ve seen, even in practice. It’s cat and mouse, man. It just [stinks] when you’re the mouse.”