By R.L. Bynum
Sam Howell’s wait is nearly over.
He’ll finally make his regular-season NFL debut Sunday in the Washington Commanders’ final game of the season at home as their starting quarterback against the rival Dallas Cowboys.
Washington (7–8–1) is eliminated from playoff contention and evidently ready to move on from quarterback Carson Wentz, who started in last week’s 24–10 home loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“We’re going to see how he prepares and gives himself an opportunity to play,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said of Howell. “But we’re not going to judge him just off of one game.”
In three preseason games, Howell was 43 of 69 for 547 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked nine times in those games, all losses (17–15 at Baltimore, 24–14 at Kansas City and 23–21 at home against Carolina.)
The best game for Howell, a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, was Aug. 27 against the Ravens when he was 24 of 35 for a touchdown.
Howell threw for school records of 10,283 yards and 92 touchdowns in three seasons at Carolina. He was the ACC Rookie of the Year and third-team All-ACC in 2019 and was second-team All-ACC in 2020.
Rivera started Wentz last week after losses the previous two weeks with Taylor Heinicke at quarterback.
Washington was 5–3–1 when Heinicke started and 2–5 when Wentz started.
With Heinicke a free agent in the offseason, Howell is the only quarterback signed for next season.