Sunday, September 24 2023

Sam Howell spent the bulk of the 2022 NFL season on the Washington Commanders‘ practice squad before starting their Week 18 game against the Dallas Cowboys, which he helped them win 26-6.

Fast-forward roughly five months and Howell is the team’s starting quarterback, with the ringing endorsement of his No. 1 wide receiver, Terry McLaurin.

McLaurin, who’s coming off his third consecutive 1,000-plus-yard season and his first Pro Bowl Games appearance, praised Howell’s intuition.

“I think Sam has a real quiet confidence about him,” McLaurin told the Commanders’ team website. “He’s not gonna tell people what to do, but he knows what he’s doing when he gets out on the field.”

In the aforementioned Week 18 win over Dallas, Howell totaled 169 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception and an 83.0 passer rating, completing 57.9% of his passes. He also ran for 35 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown.

McLaurin commended Howell for helping Washington win on short notice, saying it shows “a lot about who he is and his ability to prepare.”

The Commanders selected Howell with the No. 144 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of North Carolina, where he was the primary starting quarterback from 2019-21. 

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Last season Washington rotated quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke due to a combination of injuries and inconsistency across the team’s first 16 games. While the Commanders signed veteran QB Jacoby Brissett to a one-year deal in March, Howell will enter training camp as the favorite to get the starting nod.

The second-year quarterback will have former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who left to become Washington’s assistant head coach/offensive coordinator, in his ear. Regardless of who starts at the outset, it will be the sixth consecutive season that the Commanders have a new Week 1 quarterback. Since Kirk Cousins‘ free agent departure after the 2017 season, Washington has started Alex Smith, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Wentz at quarterback in Week 1.

McLaurin sees confidence as a hallmark for Washington’s young signal-caller.

“He’s very confident in his ability, and he’s not afraid to give guys the opportunity to make plays,” McLaurin said. “You can really tell he has a good grasp of playing football, especially for a young guy coming in with a pretty challenging offense.

“He’s really led us a lot this offseason.”

Washington is coming off an 8-8-1 season, finishing last in an NFC East division that had three teams make the playoffs (Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants).

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Washington Commanders

Sam Howell

Terry McLaurin

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