Washington Redskins name Case Keenum starter at QB for season opener vs. Eagles

Ed Kracz

Jay Gruden spent the preseason getting Dwayne Haskins ready to play, giving the rookie first-round quarterback from Ohio State 93 snaps in three exhibition games.

Except Haskins evidently isn’t ready to go on the road and play against the Eagles in the regular-season opener in two weeks. Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden announced that veteran Case Keenum will start at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 8.

“I think they both showed a lot,” said Gruden on the team’s web site. “I think Case has come in and picked up the offense extremely well, had great confidence and command over the team. They both have, but at the end of the day, we have great confidence Case can lead us to a win over Philadelphia.”

The Vikings thought Keenum could do that in the NFC Championship Game back in early January of 2018. They weren’t even close, getting stomped by the Eagles on their way to the Super Bowl 38-7 in a game that was basically over at halftime. Keenum threw a pair of picks, including a pick-6 from then cornerback Patrick Robinson and was sacked once, by then-rookie Derek Barnett.

“Oh, I remember that feeling," said Keenum on the Redskins’ team site. "I'm an extreme competitor, it's in my DNA, and I'm looking forward to going back in there."

That was Keenum's lone game he ever played in his career against the Eagles, and Washington is his fourth team in four years.

Before chuckling bear in mind that Keenum has gotten some reps in the preseason games; Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has not.

There could be some rust Wentz and the offense might have to shake loose and while they are doing that Keenum is certainly good enough and played in enough games to make things interesting. And perhaps that is why Gruden is rolling him out there.

Keenum has played 62 snaps in three exhibition games, completing 16 of 30 throws for 213 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The QB could also be buoyed by a running attack that will feature Derrius Guice, who missed his entire rookie season after tearing an ACL.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who has kept some of his other starters sidelined for the preseason in addition to Wentz, and limited his others to about a quarter’s worth of action isn’t concerned that his team could start slowly.

“I think just the way these guys have worked,” said the coach on Sunday when he met with reporters prior to practice. “I purposely, two weeks ago, sort of made - the first couple weeks of training camp, there's these different cycles you go through, and the first part of the training camp is you're really getting everybody reps. Everybody on offense, everybody on defense, you're kind of spreading the wealth.

“And then somewhere in that week three, four, we start giving who we think are going to be starters more time and more reps in practice, and so a couple weeks ago that was our time. So I pushed them really hard, offense, defense and our special teams guys, in practice, giving them more reps, and for me kind of staying on them. If there's a mistake, let's repeat it. If a guy jumps offsides, let's fix that, things like that with those starters.

“And you really started seeing them - that sense of urgency went up. Like this is real. Like it's a real game or it's a real situation. And then this past week against Baltimore in practice, I saw the same things: the energy level, the timing of quarterback and receiver, the surfacing of blocks that we talk about up front, defensively being in position to either make a tackle or coverage elements. Those are the things you start seeing when you give these guys more time in practice. And so for me, that's a gauge that they're ready, they're ready to go.”