- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When Marko Mitchell corralled a 33-yard touchdown pass in the Washington Redskins’ loss to New England last week, Colt Brennan’s legion of fans cheered.

Brennan merely sighed. Heavily.

“It was like a big ‘finally,’ ” he said. “I had been moving the ball and driving to their goal line, and it was good to get a reward out of it.”

The big reward for Brennan - a spot on the 53-man roster as the third quarterback - remains unsettled as the Redskins prepare for their preseason finale Thursday at Jacksonville.

Brennan entered camp with a chance to unseat Todd Collins for the No. 2 spot, but Collins secured that job. Brennan’s struggles and rookie Chase Daniel’s emergence opened up the third slot. Jason Campbell will start against Jacksonville, but Brennan and Daniel will see the majority of the playing time.

“This game is going to be critical to the final decision,” said offensive assistant Chris Meidt, who handles the quarterbacks.

Brennan said he feels his play has been solid despite his two red-zone interceptions, but he realizes the magnitude of the final game.

“Every game is big,” he said. “It’s the last chance for me to go out there and leave a good mark. It’s just as big as any other game I’ve been in, but it’s probably more important because it’s the last impression you get to leave.”

That the Redskins have to make the decision qualifies Brennan’s preseason as a disappointment. He is 13-for-29 for 166 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

“This isn’t where I thought I would be, but that’s football sometimes,” he said after practice Tuesday. “I realize the situation I’m in. I’m not embarrassed or bummed out about it.”

Since Brennan has one year in Zorn’s system, the job seems to be Brennan’s to lose. But if the interceptions continue and Daniel leads the Redskins down the field, the call gets tougher.

Brennan has played in all three games - 13 drives for 72 plays (not counting a two-play kneel-down possession), 255 yards and one touchdown. Daniel played only against Pittsburgh - three drives for 24 plays, 103 yards and two touchdowns.

While Daniel watched last week against New England, Brennan played almost the entire second half and recovered from an interception that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. He engineered scoring drives of 44 and 56 yards.

The touchdown pass to Mitchell - receiver and quarterback made the correct adjustment to turn a breaking route into a go pattern - was a positive step.

“He’s a gamer,” offensive coordinator Sherman Smith said. “It doesn’t surprise me. He did it in college, and now he’s shown he can do it at this level.”

Said Meidt: “I was proud at how he responded. He just didn’t dig a hole and bury himself up to the neck. Colt just threw a strike - that ball didn’t have much room to miss.”

Brennan’s second crucial mistake came with the score tied at 24-24 and less than five minutes remaining. He took a 6-yard sack, yielding a 52-yard field goal attempt that Shaun Suisham missed wide left.

Brennan has been sacked seven times, and the coaches realize the production is occasionally lacking because he’s not getting time to throw.

“But that’s Colt,” Meidt said. “He makes some great plays and then has some plays where his lack of experience shows.”

In Daniel’s brief stint, the undrafted free agent didn’t show his inexperience, and the performance catapulted him into the No. 3 quarterback discussion. But a day after the Steelers game, Daniel was told he wouldn’t play against New England, leaving him two weeks to learn more of the offense and think about the Jaguars.

“I’ve been getting a lot more reps these past couple days to get ready, and I’ve done some good things and some bad things,” he said. “It’s hit and miss with rookies, but I feel I’m making progress and inching toward my superior goal of making the team.”

Daniel was 6-for-8 for 58 yards in his lone appearance. He threw touchdown passes to Mitchell and Fred Davis.

“Chase has been solid,” Meidt said. “He continues to study, and he’s preparing himself to play. He’s continued to develop how we ask him to.”

The game plan will be streamlined for the young quarterbacks, but coach Jim Zorn said he doesn’t want to limit what he can call too much.

“A little bit [changed], but I can’t deviate much, because we’ve practiced all these things this week,” he said. “I would only hold back on a few things, but I’m going to try not to and give them the full game plan because we have to see them. It’s a mental battle as a play caller to feel what they do right since they haven’t had a lot of reps in games yet.”

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