Countdown to OTAs: QB questions

Countdown to OTAs: QB questions
May 14, 2013, 11:30 am
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Next Monday, Redskins Park will be abuzz as organized team activities (OTAs) get underway. For the first time since January, the parking lots will be full. The practice fields, weight and locker rooms, too, as coaches, veteran players and prospects officially begin their preparations for the 2013 NFL season.

In coming seven days, we’re going address some of the offseason-related questions we’re hearing from fans. Up first...

Question: What’s the quarterback situation entering OTAs and minicamp? Specifically, what will be expected of Kirk Cousins and Pat White as Robert Griffin III recovers?

Answer: Griffin, by all accounts, is ahead of schedule and appears to be on track to start in Week 1. 

But Mike Shanahan, like all NFL head coaches, is paid to be prepared for every possibility.

So that means he and his staff must get Cousins ready to be under center Sept. 9 against the visiting Eagles - just in case. Shanahan has already said Cousins will take all of the first-team reps. But that's not all the coach wants to see. It will also be important that Cousins carries himself like a starter, commands the huddle like a starter and performs like it’s his team, not one he’s renting until RG3 returns.

Because as much as Cousins needs to be prepared, the rest of the offense also needs to be comfortable and confident with Cousins calling the shots.

That said, White figures to play an important role, too.

As successful as the Redskins’ innovative offense was in 2012, the Shanahans will want to tweak their schemes in an effort to remain a step ahead. Enter White, whose skill set is much closer (minus the Howizter of an arm) to RG3’s than Cousins’. The thought is that White’s blend of athleticism and experience running a similar offense at West Virginia will enable the Redskins to stay sharp and hone the read-option portion of the playbook in RG3's absence.

Even Cousins agreed with the signing of White, saying in April, “While I believe I can to some degree run those kinds of things, the zone-read stuff is going to be much better with a Pat White-type athlete in there.”

But let this be clear: White poses no threat to Cousins as the No. 2. He won’t turn Cousins into trade bait. White is 27 years old and, after dabbling in minor league baseball and acting for a couple of years, is returning to football after a less-than-impressive stint with the Dolphins, who cut the quarterback in 2010 a year after drafting him 44th overall.

If White shows an increased commitment to the game – and that he hasn’t lost the elusiveness that made him a star at West Virginia – it’s always possible he could displace Rex Grossman as the No. 3. But the most likely outcome is that White builds his resume, secures some references from the coaching staff and catches on elsewhere.

Best-case scenario: Griffin’s recovery continues to hum along, Cousins gains valuable experience and White proves he deserves another shot at an NFL career.

Worst-case scenario: White struggles to simulate RG3 and Kyle Shanahan's playbook tinkering suffers as a result. There's also some concern that the “mental reps” RG3 is supposed to get don't prove as useful as expected, setting the second year signal caller's development back slightly.