Source: Colt McCoy will sit out Redskins preseason opener

Craig Hoffman
August 07, 2019 - 7:52 am

Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy will sit the preseason opener on Thursday in Cleveland, a source told The Fan Tuesday night following a team meeting in which playing time for starters was discussed.

Jay Gruden first hinted at the possibility on Sunday when he said just three of his four quarterbacks were likely to play.

McCoy is still recovering from offseason lower leg surgery after breaking his leg last November. After an initial surgery to try and get him ready for a potential postseason run had him walking by January, McCoy had a series of follow-up procedures that kept him out of OTAs and mini-camp.

"I had three, but we’re fine,” McCoy said on July 26th, the only time he’s addressed the collective media in camp. “You know, sometimes things happen and I don’t really want to get into it too much, but I know that I’m at a point right now where I feel good enough to get out there and throw and move around and just everyday working through that and seeing how it feels, and, again, everyone here is real supportive of me and my situation. I want to be out there and compete.”

McCoy is almost entirely healed from the injury and is at a level where he could play if this were the regular season. He’s still learning to trust the leg though, both moving around and pushing off to drive throws. 

“He's been good,” Jay Gruden said of McCoy on Tuesday. “He's been up and down a little bit. You know, I think we have such high expectations for him, and sometimes he’ll miss a throw, very uncharacteristic. But, I think overall, I think, you know, after missing all of OTAs and a major part of last year, I think he’s come in and handled his stuff pretty well."

The only way to wipe that inconsistency and build confidence in the leg is to practice and play. Since The Fan broke the news of McCoy’s absence last night, many fans have replied asking why McCoy is practicing if he’s hurt and that the team is pushing him too hard. This is the wrong way to interpret this news. He’s fine physically, especially in a setting where he won’t get hit. Getting to 100% requires reps and trust built through reps.

This isn’t just about McCoy, though. Gruden and his offensive staff need to see Case Keenum play with the first unit in a game setting. They need to see McCoy, too, but they don’t want to play the other starters too much just to get an extended look at the quarterback.

For example, if the ideal number is 10 snaps per quarterback, then it would take 20 for both guys to get their work. Even if that number is cut down 16, with eight per guy, that’s 125% of the snaps that they want their starting offensive line to play. Now, the Redskins can play the first unit until they see what they need to see and not worry about running them back out there with another quarterback and risking injury for someone else. 

In theory, they could sit Keenum in the second game and do the same with McCoy. It’s unclear if that will be the case yet, but it’s a possibility.

Of course, there is a huge benefit for Dwayne Haskins as well. Haskins has worked a lot with the third-stringers in practice and he can now move up to the second unit. That means better protection with a better offensive line and throwing to better receivers on the outside, including Cam Sims and Terry McLaurin who might wind up as the starters when camp is over. 

It also means the Redskins get to see Haskins against better players for Cleveland instead of a bunch of guys who won’t make the league.

How long Haskins plays will depend on how the game unfolds. He’s struggled to get the ball out on time in practice. If he’s taking a lot of sacks, they’ll likely pull him. If he’s getting the ball out and keeping himself clean, Haskins might wind up playing the most of the three quarterbacks Thursday night.

When Haskins is done, Josh Woodrum will finish the game.

“I don’t think we ever can give a quarterback too many reps,” Gruden said over the weekend. It's never enough in my opinion for the quarterback. However, you’ll wear everybody else down if you practice for as long as I want to practice. Definitely need more reps. We’ve got to continue to get more reps. We have some more time, but the more reps we can get them, the better and then we’ll just have to decide come game time in the pre-season who gets what and when.”

The decision has been made. McCoy sits, Keenum starts, and then Dwayne Haskins' first NFL snaps will have the eyes of Redskins fans upon them.

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