Howes: Presidential vacuum looms as UAW bargaining convention arrives

Sunday's NFL: Case Keenum to start opener for Washington

Detroit News wire services
Washington quarterback Case Keenum

Ashburn, Va. — Case Keenum, Colt McCoy and Dwayne Haskins entered training camp in consideration for Washington's starting quarterback job.

Keenum won the job, with coach Jay Gruden saying Sunday the veteran would start Week 1 at the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s not that Keenum dominated during his first offseason, training camp and preseason games with Washington. With McCoy’s lingering leg injury and Haskins adjusting to the NFL game, Keenum’s experience  and availability  won out.

“As it stands right now, we’ll start with Case at the opener and then Dwayne will get himself ready to play and we’ll go from there,” Gruden said following Washington’s first practice since Thursday’s 19-7 win at Atlanta.

Washington ended the 2018 season with its top two quarterbacks, Alex Smith and McCoy, sidelined with leg injuries. Before spending the 15th overall selection in April’s draft on Haskins, the strong-armed passer from Ohio State, Washington acquired Keenum from Denver in March in a low-risk trade involving late-round picks.

Undrafted in 2012, the same year Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went 1-2, Keenum developed into a starter for four teams over his first seven seasons. The journeyman shined during Minnesota’s 2017 run to the NFC Championship game and started all 16 games for the Broncos last season.

“I’m excited. I really am. I don’t take it lightly, the opportunity, the position I’m in to be the Week 1 starter,” Keenum said. “I’ve been there before. I know it’s a tough job and there are only 32 of them. I’m excited to continue to earn the right to be the quarterback for this team.”

Washington did not hand Keenum the job, but he started the first three preseason games with Haskins serving as the primary backup. Playing without holdout starting left tackle Trent Williams and amid uncertainty atop the wide receiver unit, Keenum completed 16 of 30 passes for 213 yards and one touchdown.

“Case has come in here and picked up the offense extremely well, had great confidence and command over the team  they both have,” Gruden said. “At the end of the day, I think we have great confidence that Case can lead us to a win against Philadelphia.”

How long Keenum keeps the job remains one of several interesting questions for Washington.

Washington last reached the postseason in 2015, but the team also has its quarterback of the future to develop in Haskins, who mixed in sharp throws with youthful miscues throughout the summer. The team opens the season facing four 2018 playoff teams in their first five games.

McCoy, easily the most experienced with Gruden’s playbook based on his five years in Washington, had multiple surgeries during the offseason on the right leg he broke last December. Though he participated during much of training camp, setbacks occurred, thus eliminating his chance to win the starting job. There’s no timetable for McCoy’s return.

“You’ve got to produce without a doubt. We anticipate Case producing,” Gruden said. “He produces, he has nothing to worry about, you know what I mean? I think moving forward, we intend on Case being the guy.”

Smith, spotted in Washington’s locker room Sunday remains on crutches following his gruesome leg injury last November and is unlikely to see action this season.

Sunday's exhibition

Steelers 18, (at) Titans 6: Ben Roethlisberger needed three short series to show he’s ready for the regular season, even though he wasn’t happy the Steelers didn’t score earlier.

The Titans made it very clear protecting Marcus Mariota on a wet and ugly night was their top priority.

Roethlisberger capped his night with a 17-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster, and the Steelers won to remain perfect this preseason.

“I wasn’t as crisp as I would’ve liked to have been, but I think we got enough accomplished,” Roethlisberger said.

The Steelers (3-0) came up with four of seven sacks by halftime and had a turnover as they pummeled all three quarterbacks for the Titans (1-2). Six different Steelers had at least a sack apiece.

Roethlisberger made his preseason debut and was a bit rusty with two short series. After Stephon Tuitt sacked Mariota in the end zone for a safety, Roethlisberger then drove the Steelers 48 yards after the free kick and finished with the TD pass to Smith-Schuster.

Brown loses grievance

Raiders receiver Antonio Brown (Central Michigan) has been working with the NFL and going through proper channels in an effort to wear a preferred brand of helmet. The NFL Network is reporting that Brown has lost a second grievance procedure.

The Raiders believe both of Brown’s training camp issues — feet with frostbite like symptoms and the helmet issue — are in the rear-view mirror. Coach Jon Gruden believes Brown is on track to start Week 1 against the Broncos on Monday night, Sept. 9.

Brown, according to, has narrowed his options on a helmet from multiple companies and is expected to receive an endorsement deal when he selects one to use in the regular season.

Personnel dept.

The Falcons brought in former Pro Bowler Blair Walsh to compete for their kicking job. He will get a shot at beating out Giorgio Tavecchio, who has made only four of eight field goal attempts in exhibition games.

Walsh was released by the Vikings and landed with the Seahawks in 2017. He wasn’t re-signed after missing eight kicks and didn’t play last season.

... The Raiders placed running back Doug Martin on injured reserve and signed former Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget.

... The Dolphins released veteran safety T.J. McDonald, who started 14 games for Miami last season.