- The Washington Times - Friday, October 4, 2019

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins have made a quarterback decision. Colt McCoy will start Sunday against the New England Patriots at FedEx Field.

Coach Jay Gruden announced the move Friday, saying he made his choice “a long time ago.” McCoy replaces Case Keenum, who is questionable for Sunday’s game with a foot injury, as starter and will play ahead of first-rounder Dwayne Haskins.

The Redskins had been waiting for McCoy to get healthy. After breaking his leg last December, the 33-year-old aggravated the injury in mid-August — sidelining him for a month and a half. McCoy returned to practice last week.

“All three quarterbacks know the system, but Colt has the most experience in it,” Gruden said. “He’s very comfortable in it. … I think this will be a great test for him. He hasn’t faced a live [pass] rush since Philadelphia last year. I think that’ll be the biggest test for him.”

Before his injury, McCoy made a strong impression in training camp. Gruden said Friday that the starting job was the quarterback’s “to lose” and McCoy looked comfortable in running the offense.

The Redskins made a change at quarterback for a few reasons. The first, Washington is 0-4 and Keenum’s play has spiraled over the last two weeks. After starting out the year with five touchdowns in two games with no interceptions, Keenum turned the ball over six times combined against the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants.

Gruden benched Keenum at New York, partially citing the 31-year-old’s foot injury, which he suffered against the Bears.

But the Redskins are also turning to McCoy for his experience. The Texas product signed with Washington in 2014, the same year Gruden was hired. The two have been linked ever since, and Gruden has praised McCoy throughout their tenure.

“This is his sixth year in the system,” Gruden said. “These other guys just got here in the offseason. It means a lot, really. … He’s been in all the meetings. He’s confident in the system and now it’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”

Gruden drew criticism this week for saying he didn’t “have a plan” at the position when on a conference call with reporters. The sixth-year coach has also received flack for his handling of Haskins, the team’s 15th overall pick who threw three interceptions.

Gruden pushed back against both of those notions throughout the week, taking jabs at critics during his daily press conference.

The Redskins’ coaching staff don’t feel like Haskins is ready to play, though Gruden turned to him in the Giants’ game in search of a spark with his team down 14 points in the second quarter. Haskins’ performance, however, seemed to confirm Gruden’s hesitancy as the 22-year-old threw three interceptions in the loss.

Gruden did not reveal if Haskins or Keenum will be the backup quarterback on Sunday.

“Dwayne is working on a daily basis,” offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said. “It’s just trying to go from the system he was running in college to running what we run now here and being ready to play against an NFL defense. There’s a lot of things that are kind of out of his control that come into play, while also understanding where he’s at in his long-term development process that’s very, very important to us.”

The Patriots will be McCoy’s seventh start since 2014. He started two games last year after Alex Smith suffered a season-ending leg injury, but his chance was ruined when he broke his own leg on “Monday Night Football” against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Now, McCoy will receive another opportunity.

“We made a big deal about, ‘I don’t want him on the field until he feels like he’s 100%,’” Gruden said. “And he got some good throws in last week to get his feet wet. This week, he’s had a good week.”

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