When the Washington Commanders have handed the quarterback reins to players in the past, media and fans knew long before the season the player wasn’t ready for the opportunity.
Last offseason, it was veteran Carson Wentz. While most believed Wentz wouldn’t work before the Commanders traded for him, his performance during minicamp and training camp left much to be desired. He ended up starting seven games and was released in March.
This offseason, it is second-year quarterback Sam Howell. Once Howell played well in the season finale against Dallas, head coach Ron Rivera wanted to use the offseason to build around Howell and improve the rest of the roster, including the offensive line.
So when the Commanders began OTAs two weeks ago, the focus was squarely on Howell and his performance on the days the media was allowed to attend practice. Overall, Howell impressed through the first two weeks. While he was far from perfect, Howell’s growth from one practice to the next encouraged his coaches and teammates.
On Tuesday, the Commanders began their mandatory three-day minicamp, a critical stage in the development of Howell before training camp next month.
How’d he do?
Zech Selby of commanders.com has seen every Howell practice this offseason, and he came away impressed with his performance Tuesday.
Howell looked solid for the majority of practice, completing 15-of-24 passes in 11-on-11, 7-on-7 and blitz drills. The only rough spot came around the middle practice, when he was 1-of-5 with an interception. It was an impressive play by Khaleke Hudson, who managed to corral the ball away from the receiver before running down the sideline. And for those who missed Young’s energy cheering on his teammates, he was among the loudest of the defensive players cheering Hudson on after the pick.
Obviously, the 1-of-5 sequence with an interception stands out. However, notice how Selby mentioned it came in the middle of practice. That meant Howell finished strong, which has been a theme for him this spring. Far too often, we’ve heard of Washington quarterbacks looking terrible in practice, with less-heralded backups looking much better. That doesn’t appear to be the case with Howell.
We’ll continue to follow Howell’s performance throughout the remainder of Washington’s minicamp.