Few teams ever keep more than three quarterbacks on the final roster. Space is too valuable elsewhere. But while Robert Griffin III is expected to be healthy and ready to start the season opener on Sept. 9, the status of backup Kirk Cousins (sprained right foot) remains unclear. Though he expects to practice fully this week, the team remains cautious. Veteran Rex Grossman is the third-string quarterback.
And so, for now, White sticks. It didn’t hurt that Washington had two extra spots for the first month of the season. Defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson will miss the first four games thanks to performance-enhancing drug use suspensions by the NFL.
When they return, it seems unlikely White would survive, barring an injury in the meantime to one of the quarterbacks ahead of him. But it’s also possible the Redskins think that insurance policy is worth keeping him around for a month instead of a ninth offensive lineman or a sixth wide receiver.
The coaching staff saw improvement in White throughout the summer. He shook off the rust and was a better passer by the end of training camp. That doesn’t mean he’s ready for a starting job any time soon. White is far too inconsistent in his drops and the rhythm and accuracy of his throws. But he is an elite athlete and that steady improvement and the roster situation gave him a chance to stay.
“The more football [White] is around, the more he works at it, the better he’ll get,” Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “With the attitude that he does have he will get better because he’s as hard on himself as anybody I’ve been around. Everything is his fault. That’s the way he looks at it.”
White signed a contract with the Kansas City Royals less than a week after the Dolphins cut him. He spent that fall at instructional league in Arizona working with the organization’s top prospects.
But he remained interested in playing football, failing to report for Kansas City’s spring training in 2011 and passing on a contract offer by the Miami Marlins in early 2013. Instead, White began quarterback workouts in San Diego in late January and that led to the opportunity in Washington. He made the most of it.
“I definitely want to continue playing the game,” White told reporters in Tampa after playing the entire preseason finale against the Bucaneers. “I have a lot of passion for it, I love it. I’ve been playing it for a while now. I took a little break, which was a huge mistake on my part. But everything happens for a reason.”
Like his entire summer, it was far from a perfect effort. White immediately spoke of the mistakes he’d made.
“I don’t think I hurt myself, but I don’t know if I helped myself,” White said afterward.