Commanders Football

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell throws a pass Tuesday at the team’s training facility in Ashburn, Va. Howell is in line to take over as the starting quarterback after playing only one game in his rookie season. Evan Vucci/Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. — Sam Howell wanted no part of being featured in “Quarterback,” the docuseries that profiled Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins and Marcus Mariota.

He didn’t need the distraction clouding his focus.

Plus, the spotlight is already shining plenty bright on Howell as he tries to become Washington’s starting quarterback.

Howell is getting that chance in training camp to show Coach Ron Rivera and new ownership he deserves to be the guy for a franchise that has had 12 quarterbacks throw a pass since 2018.

“It’s a great opportunity for me with the position I’m in to really compete here and be the starter,” Howell said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to go out there and just show what I can do.”

A 2022 fifth-round pick out of North Carolina, Howell spent most of his rookie year as the third stringer before showing glimpses of what he can do in his NFL debut in Washington’s regular-season finale, throwing and running for a touchdown to beat playoff-bound Dallas.


Even though the Commanders were out of contention then – eliminated after previous starter Carson Wentz threw three interceptions in a loss to Cleveland – that performance was enough to warrant Ron Rivera giving Howell the nod going into the spring. The team added journeyman Jacoby Brissett as a reliable veteran backup who could provide some training camp competition.

But there’s no doubt this is Howell’s job to lose. He has so far taken all the snaps with the first team, with mixed results, as he assimilates to new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s system.

“This is all the growth and development opportunity,” Rivera said Wednesday. “This is a chance to learn the base fundamentals of our offense.”

Howell has been trying to learn along the way. In his down time away from the facility, the 22-year-old has done mental walkthroughs to familiarize himself with the playbook and believes he has made significant progress over the past few months.

“I think at this point, I have total command of the offense,” Howell said. “I studied a lot this summer and (have been) trying to get really comfortable with the system.”

Top receiver Terry McLaurin acknowledged Howell has a lot on his plate to get up to speed with Bieniemy’s offense after just one game of professional experience. That one game did reveal a positive trait: Howell’s ability to shake off throwing an interception, which has continued in camp.


“He still wasn’t afraid to push the ball down the field, and I think with this being a passing league, you still got to stay aggressive,” McLaurin said. “You really don’t even see him get flustered even when he’s had a few, maybe, rough patches during practice. He doesn’t hang his head. He’s not yelling, cussing – things like that. He’s pretty even keel, which is really unique for a young guy like that.”

RAIDERS: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo left practice early as coaches monitor his time on the field as he comes back from a broken left foot.

Garoppolo, who injured the foot last season while quarterbacking the San Francisco 49ers, also did not practice Friday.

“There’s a definite plan,” Raiders Coach Josh McDaniels said recently. “We know what days we’re out there. … A number of players are going through the same process.”

SAINTS: Star running back Alvin Kamara was excused from practice so he could meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York to discuss a recently settled criminal case stemming from a February 2022 fight in Las Vegas.

“It shows initiative on Alvin’s part to want to get out ahead of this and get his side of the story out in terms of visiting with the commissioner,” Saints Coach Dennis Allen said after practice. “We felt like, and he felt like, it was the right thing to do.


“I don’t want to really get into all the details. We’ll let the process play and then we’ll react to whatever decisions are made.”

The NFL declined comment on Kamara’s meeting with Goodell or any timeline for potential discipline.

Kamara played throughout the 2022 season while the NFL waited for a resolution to his court case, which also involved cornerback Chris Lammons. The two players were accused, along with two other defendants, of beating Darnell Greene Jr. of Houston unconscious following an altercation that spilled out of an elevator and into a hallway.

JAGUARS: Receiver Calvin Ridley switched cleats Wednesday to alleviate toe soreness.

Coach Doug Pederson initially said Ridley would be limited in training camp because of his achy toe, but Ridley found a solution by wearing different shoes. He responded by taking part in every practice drill, although he dropped at least four passes.

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