Ron Rivera picks Sam Howell as the Washington Commanders' starting quarterback

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Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell looks to pass against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

ASHBURN, Va. – Coach Ron Rivera has named Sam Howell the Washington Commanders’ starting quarterback, making the North Carolina product the latest in a revolving door of players at the position for the organization in recent years.

Rivera announced the decision Friday morning before practice after deliberating with new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and quarterbacks coach Tavita Pritchard.

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Howell, if he remains healthy until then, would become Washington’s seventh different season-opening starter in as many years.

“He’s basically met the challenge that we talked about, and that was seeing the growth and improvement from OTAs and minicamp," Rivera said. "Then talked about going into training camp and continuing to grow and show us what he's capable of.

"We've been very pleased with it to the point where I decided yesterday that we were going to name him the starter going into the regular season.”

Rivera and the Commanders planned to give Howell this opportunity after the 2022 fifth-round pick impressed in his NFL debut in Week 18 last season. Howell also went 9 of 12 for 77 yards and a touchdown in the exhibition opener last week at Cleveland and has showed progress over the course of training camp.

Howell's play during the first of two joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens clinched the decision, Rivera said.

“He sees the field really well, and he’s going to give us chance to make opportunities on the perimeter,” top receiver Terry McLaurin said after that practice. “He’s been the same guy since we started camp, since he stepped in at the last game last year. He's just really poised.”

Veteran Jacoby Brissett is set to back up Howell on Sept. 10 when Washington hosts Arizona — the first regular-season game since the new ownership group led by Josh Harris took over. The team signed Brissett this offseason to compete with Howell, who has been empowered since before spring workouts by Rivera by giving him the first-team snaps.

“I’m always confident in my abilities just to come out here and perform and do well for this football team,” Howell said. "Throughout camp, every single day I’ve gotten better and more comfortable, and I feel like I’m in a really good place right now with the offense. I feel really good going out there every single day, and I feel good about my chances to go out there and execute.”



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