Commanders QB Sam Howell 'embracing' role as backup: 'When my name is called, I'll be ready'

Washington Commanders rookie quarterback Sam Howell is adjusting to life as a backup.

"Probably the last time (I wasn't the starter) was I played in an All-Star game when I was in seventh grade," Howell said earlier this month, via Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington. "The coach's son played quarterback. I actually played defensive end. So that's probably the only time in my life I haven't been the starting quarterback."

Once projected as a potential early-round draft pick, Howell fell to the fifth round, where Washington scooped him up. He was a three-year starter at North Carolina, completing 63.8% of his passes for 10,283 yards with 92 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. The QB also rushed for 1,009 yards on 369 attempts with an additional 17 touchdowns.

Washington traded for Carson Wentz this offseason to be the new starting quarterback. Taylor Heinicke, who started 15 games last season, returns as the backup. That puts Howell in the third slot heading towards training camp.

"They're both great guys. I'm just happy to be somewhere where there's two really good quarterbacks in my room," Howell said. "They're helping me out a lot -- they've given me a lot of good advice. They're both really talented guys. I'm happy to be in the room with those guys and compete each and every day."

Wentz's track record suggests there could be a chance for the backups to play in Washington this season. After overcoming early-career injuries, Wentz was benched for Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia near the end of the 2020 season, and his struggles last year in Indianapolis didn't quiet questions about his play.

Still, Howell would have to prove ready in training camp and the preseason if he's to leapfrog both Wentz and Heinicke for starting reps early in the season.

"For me, I'm just going to embrace my role," Howell said. "Do everything I can to just try and get better each and every day. And when my name is called, I'll be ready."

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