- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2014

The cameras and tape recorders surrounded Colt McCoy as he entered the Redskins locker room Monday morning. “Don’t make him turn his neck,” a team spokesman said.

Over the previous 18 hours, McCoy had undergone various tests, including an MRI and X-rays, in an effort to pinpoint the exact neck injury that knocked him out of Sunday’s 24-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams. He had yet to meet with doctors to discuss those results, so he still did not know the full extent of the injury.

What he did know, however, was that the pain had not diminished since Sunday night.

“It is what it is right now,” McCoy said. “I don’t really know how to describe it.”

Two weeks ago, coach Jay Gruden described Washington’s quarterback situation as a “merry-go-round.” And as McCoy stood gingerly in the locker room, barely turning as he spoke, it became clear that the merry-go-round is still turning.

The Redskins do not yet know who will start for them at quarterback Sunday against the New York Giants, the first of three divisional games to close out the season. If McCoy isn’t healthy, Gruden said franchise savior-turned-backup Robert Griffin III would likely start. If McCoy is healthy, there is still a chance he might not start. And regardless of McCoy’s health, Gruden didn’t squash the possibility of Kirk Cousins starting again before season’s end.

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So, in summary: Washington’s murky quarterback situation is as murky as ever.

“I don’t want to really rush into any decision at this time anyway,” Gruden said. “Nobody else has to announce any starters on a Monday press conference, so I don’t think I should be any different. So I am going to wait and see until I get all the information on the quarterback.”

McCoy completed 20 of his 32 passes for 199 yards and two interceptions against St. Louis, which he said was the first time he had been shut out in his football career. The 28-year-old was under duress throughout the game and sacked six times, with the fifth — a monstrous blindside hit from Robert Quinn — causing the neck injury.

McCoy left the game at the two-minute warning and Griffin, who had been benched less than two weeks earlier, trotted onto the field. He completed three of his four passes for 33 yards and was sacked once himself.

“I’m here to help this team win,” Griffin said after the game. “So if [Gruden] decides to put me in, I’m ready to go. But I’m not going to undermine anybody else or be that player, because that’s not who I am.”

The Redskins have now made five quarterback changes in their first 13 games. Some have been prompted by injury, including Griffin’s entrance Sunday and Cousins‘ first appearance in Week 2. Others have been based on performance, like when McCoy replaced Cousins at halftime against the Titans in Week 7 and supplanted Griffin in Week 13.

That instability has at times appeared to hinder Washington’s offense, which sputtered to 206 yards Sunday and only once reached the red zone — a play, from the Rams’ 20-yard line, that ended in that sack by Quinn.

“We’re all searching for answers in this building,” Gruden said after the loss. “We’re trying to find out who can lead us to victories and who can get this offense on a roll. That obviously is still to be determined.”

McCoy’s health will be the most significant factor in the team’s decision-making process, at least for Sunday’s game. On Monday morning, he was asked whether the pain in his neck was at the same level as it was the previous night after the game. He took a long pause and deftly skirted the question.

Then he was asked the same question again.

“Yeah,” McCoy said, with a look of resignation on his face. “Probably.”

Gruden again classified McCoy’s injury as a neck sprain Monday, but one person said Sunday night that the quarterback’s symptoms were consistent with those of a pinched nerve.

McCoy’s pain, and his general demeanor while addressing reporters, did not inspire optimism about his availability for Sunday, setting the stage for Griffin’s potential return. Gruden said the third-year quarterback will receive first-team repetitions in practice Wednesday and Thursday, barring a change in McCoy’s health or his own thinking.

“Hopefully he’ll have a little bit more of a confident air about him when he jumps in there and there’s less indecision. [That] is what we’re hoping for,” Gruden said of Griffin. “We’ve just got to get him to relax, play and have some fun and lead the team if he’s the guy to do it.”

The current situation again leaves Cousins, who has gone from backup to starter to backup to No. 3 quarterback this season, on the outside looking in. Gruden, however, refused to rule out the possibility of Cousins playing again this season.

“Like I said, I just took him out in the second half against Tennessee just to try to see what Colt could do, and he did well,” Gruden explained. “Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten another opportunity, but it doesn’t mean he’s not going to get another one this year. It does not mean that at all.”

So what does it mean, exactly? That the Redskins’ quarterback merry-go-round, and the whirling controversy that comes with it, isn’t slowing down any time soon.

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