October 21, 2015

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins says he literally tunes out critics who suggest his starting job is on the line.

''The way I don't listen to what they're saying is I don't listen to what they're saying,'' Cousins said Wednesday. ''I turn on NPR instead of (sports talk radio), sometimes. I turn on HGTV instead of ESPN.''

Washington (2-4) will host Tampa Bay (2-3) on Sunday, coming off its first consecutive losses of the season. Cousins has thrown two interceptions in each of the Redskins' defeats, including two in the third quarter of last week's 34-20 loss at the New York Jets.

That sank Washington to last place in the NFC East. But Cousins said it's crucial not to overreact heading into a matchup that was earlier termed ''critical'' and a ''code red'' by coach Jay Gruden.

''I don't think it's going to help us to hit the panic button,'' Cousins said. ''I don't think it's going to help us to be completely relaxed. I think in the middle lies virtue. You've got to have a balance.''

The fourth-year QB has six touchdown passes and eight interceptions so far in his first NFL season as the full-time starter. Gruden has said he's not considering a quarterback change and that he hopes Cousins can overcome, and learn from, his struggles. Washington has a bye in Week 8 before traveling to face the New England Patriots.

''I know what's at stake,'' Cousins said. ''I want nothing more than to help this team get to a place with a lot of wins and a playoff berth and all that. I'm heart-attack serious about making this happen. It takes time.''

Cousins won the starting job from Robert Griffin III in the preseason, and has been backed up by Colt McCoy since the regular season began, with RG3 relegated to third-string duty.

Cousins is hoping two key offensive starters can play Sunday. Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Jordan Reed both returned to limited practice Wednesday as they progress through the NFL's concussion protocol.

Reed has caught 24 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown in four games.

Neither player is cleared for contact, and Gruden said both will visit an independent neurologist later in the week.

''I think if everything is cleared, there's a pretty good chance they play,'' Gruden said.

NOTES: Gruden expects WR DeSean Jackson (left hamstring) to miss Sunday's game, calling a quicker return ''a long shot.'' Last Thursday, Jackson aggravated the injury, which has sidelined him since Week 1. ... RB Matt Jones (toe) participated in full practice after missing Sunday's game. ... CB Bashaud Breeland (bruised knee), S Trenton Robinson and OT Ty Nsekehe (foot) participated in full practice after getting hurt Sunday, but RB Chris Thompson (bruised lower back) remained out.


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