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Jacoby Brissett providing Sam Howell with guidance amid QB competition

05242023 OTAs KC30280

Let's be honest: being in the same room as your direct competitor can be a little awkward. Fortunately, that is not the case with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett.

The Washington Commanders operated the offseason with Howell playing as "QB1" and intend to give him a shot at becoming the starter for the 2023 season. The team also brought in Brissett, who is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, to serve as a veteran backup and also push Howell during camp. 

Brissett did not take any reps with the starting offense during OTAs and minicamp, but Rivera still views the situation as a competition. Both Howell and Brissett feel the same, although that has not prevented them from developing a bond and learning from each other. 

"I've just been enjoying watching these guys work," said offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. "I've been enjoying the way they communicate, and I've been enjoying...them coming to work and having questions about everything."

Brissett would not have signed with Washington if he didn't believe he had a shot of being the starter. He at least has the ability to do so based on what he showed at his previous stop with the Cleveland Browns. Brissett did his best to keep the Browns in contention while Deshaun Watson served his suspension, completing 64% of his passes for 2,608 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Being a starter once again is "for sure" one of Brissett's goals. However, Brissett has said from his first day in Washington that his first job is to be a good teammate and help where he can. For his relationship with Howell specifically, that means providing guidance to the second-year pro.

"It's been a lot of fun," Brissett said. "He's smart, can make all the throws. Been a joy to be around. I know that makes me sound old, but he's been good to be around learn from each other. Competing against each other has just been a lot of fun."

Brissett is not an old player by any means -- he'll be 31 by the end of this season -- but he already has a grasp of what Howell is trying to learn. Brissett was in the same situation back in 2017, when he was the primary starter for the Indianapolis Colts in his second season, so he knows what it's like to be a leader at a young age and direct an offense full of veterans.

Howell does have the support of the coaching staff, including Bieniemy, who has tough style but has been impressed with how Howell has handled the role as QB1. Bieniemy is also willing to admit that the advice Brissett is able to give Howell "isn't anything that I can give him."

"He's showing Sam what it takes to be a consistent professional," Bieniemy said. "I think it's great that he has that example in the room."

Brissett hasn't let that get in the way of trying to prove himself on the field. This is still a competition, and he tries to put "his best foot forward" when he goes through 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills because he knows that Howell is doing the same. Both players know that approach is the best one for not only themselves but the team as a whole.

The Washington Commanders were back on the field on Thursday for the third day of mandatory minicamp. Check out the top photos from the afternoon. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)

But when they're off the field, they often talk to each other on the sidelines about what they were seeing from the defense and how they can improve. Howell has come to appreciate the relationship they share.

"Jacoby's awesome. Me and him have become really good friends, and he's just a great guy," Howell said. "He's been through so much in his career. He's seen a lot. He's spent some time with a lot of different teams. He was in New England for a long time with Brady. He just has so many stories and so much insight that he can share. He's been great to have here and he helps a lot."

Based on what Howell's teammates have said, it seems like Brissett's influence has helped him take command of the huddle. Howell said that has always been a part of his skill set, but it certainly helps to have a veteran providing some extra pointers.

"He's taken the bull by the horns, and he's really led us a lot this offseason," said Terry McLaurin.

Howell and Brissett understand that their coaches will ultimately do what's best for the team. Brissett is trying to earn the job, and Howell is trying to keep it. Neither have shied away from the competition, but they're approaching it in a way that will elevate each other.

"He understands that, I understand that," Brissett said. "The whole team understands that for their position. I think it's been going well."

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