ASHBURN, Virginia — For the last week it was obvious that quarterback Case Keenum would start the Washington Redskins‘ season opener. But coach Jay Gruden wasn’t ready to make it official. Finally, on Sunday, Gruden did just that, saying Keenum would start the season opener at Philadelphia.
Keenum won a competition that never developed because Colt McCoy is still dealing with issues from the broken right leg he suffered in December. McCoy isn’t having pain issues, but rather is still strengthening his leg so he can plant and throw stronger, a source said. He hasn’t participated in the full-team portion of practice since Aug. 11. He did not go through individual drills last week, making Keenum’s appointment as starter only a matter of time.
The team did not feel that rookie Dwayne Haskins, the 15th overall pick, is close enough to being ready. From the time Washington drafted Haskins, numerous members of the organization have preached patience and wanting him to develop properly.
The Redskins acquired Keenum in a trade with Denver this offseason. Keenum has started 54 games in his career, including 30 the past two years. He went 11-3 as Minnesota’s starter in 2017 and signed with Denver after the season. In the last two years he’s thrown a combined 40 touchdowns to 22 interceptions. He’ll be the fourth different quarterback to start the season in Gruden’s six years.
“The experience factor is something you really lean upon and Case has been productive in practice and some of the games,” Gruden said. “Case has come in here and picked up the offense extremely well; he had great confidence and command over the team. We have great confidence Case can lead us to a win against Philadelphia.”
The last time Keenum played at Philadelphia came in the 2017 playoffs when the Eagles ended Minnesota’s season with a 38-7 win. Keenum threw two interceptions.
“I remember the feeling I had walking off the field,” Keenum said. “I don’t know if I can put it into words, but I’ve used it and plan on continuing to us it. It’s not a good feeling to get that close to what you dream of, to what everybody dreams of and to not get that next step. It was tough. But I’m definitely motivated.”
Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said Keenum’s consistency stood out.
“Great leader in the huddle, just his work ethic and his knowledge of the offense,” Peterson said. “He’s deserving.”