Long after practice had ended Friday morning, Colt McCoy took off his shoulder pads and bright yellow jersey and sprinted from one end of the practice field to the other. Then he turned around and ran back. Then there. Then back again. Then a third trip, this time with a football.
McCoy is not known for his speed, and he will probably not be asked to carry the ball much against his former team, the Cleveland Browns, on Monday night.
“I just want to stay in good shape,” he said. “You never know.”
Such is the mantra of a third-string quarterback in the NFL, especially one sitting behind an entrenched starter, Robert Griffin III, and a well-regarded backup, Kirk Cousins.
McCoy doesn’t know whether he will be included in Washington’s final 53-man roster, or whether there is even a chance that his performance during the preseason will influence that decision. If he does make the cut, McCoy would likely watch every regular-season game from the sidelines. But then again, you never know.
So as he prepares to face the team that drafted him out of Texas in the third round in 2010, McCoy said he is focused only on what is in his control. He is looking forward to seeing his old teammates and friends from Cleveland, where he was the starter for parts of two seasons.
“It’ll be fun to see those guys,” McCoy said. “But in my mind, I’m just going out there to compete and play the best I can with the team that I have out there, and hopefully get better.”
When McCoy first hit free agency this summer, he didn’t even consider joining the Redskins. He had never been a third-string quarterback in his career, and in Washington, that would almost certainly be his fate.
“Well,” he thought, “I mean, I might as well go up there.”
During his time in Cleveland, McCoy had watched Gruden’s offense in Cincinnati twice a year. He loved how it functioned, and how quarterback Andy Dalton operated within it. However, he arrived in Washington with no intention of signing a contract.
“I had some other places I was going to go to,” McCoy said. “Once I got here, I really liked Jay and I really liked Bruce and I appreciated how they handled me here. And they expressed how much they wanted me here, and I ended up signing.”
Like Griffin and Cousins, McCoy has had his ups and downs in training camp. He completed eight of nine passes for 102 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s preseason opener against the Patriots, albeit against third- and fourth-string defensive backs.
After starting in Cleveland and serving as Colin Kaepernick’s backup in San Francisco, he brings experience to every huddle and, perhaps more importantly, to every quarterbacks’ meeting.
“He’s had great coaching throughout his career, obviously. And he’s got a great wealth of experience as far as some of the plays that we’re running,” Gruden said. “So he’s a good tutor for Robert also. … Even though he’s still 27, he’s started some games and been through some ups and downs in his career.”