Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on Monday said veteran quarterback Colt McCoy will take over the reps with the No. 1 offense in practices this week, as starter Robert Griffin III inches closer and closer to a return from an ankle injury.
On Sunday, Gruden elected to replace backup quarterback Kirk Cousins with McCoy to start the second half of the team's game against the Tennessee Titans at FedExField. By game's end, McCoy had led the team on a game-winning drive in the final minutes, culminating in a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal as time expired to give Washington its 19-17 victory over Tennessee.
Should Griffin III – who suffered a dislocated ankle Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars – not be cleared to return by Monday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys, Gruden said McCoy will get his first start as a member of the Redskins.
"I like to make the decision as soon as I can just to get the reps because I'm a big rep guy, and I want to make sure we get the starter ready to go," Gruden said. "Moving forward for the Cowboys, we're going to start with Colt, and Kirk [Cousins] is going to get the reps that he gets and he'll be ready to go in if need be. But Colt will be the starter, I'm planning, on Monday night."
Cousins has appeared in five games this season, starting four, completing 126-of-204 passes (61.8 percent) for 1,710 yards and 10 touchdowns. But Gruden said it was ultimately Cousins' turnovers – he has nine interceptions and two lost fumbles this season – that led to the decision to go with McCoy for the second half of Sunday's game.
McCoy responded by completing 11 of his 12 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown – a 70-yard passing play to wide receiver Pierre Garçon on the Texas product's first throw of the season.
Gruden said McCoy brings some "great intangibles" to the Redskins' quarterback position.
"He is very poised. He is a great competitor," the first-year head coach said. "I feel like he is going to get us in the right play and make the right throw."
Monday's announcement by Gruden is the latest chapter in McCoy's interesting journey as a quarterback in the National Football League.
As a star at the University of Texas, McCoy went 45-8 as a four-year starter, setting the NCAA record for most career wins by a college starting quarterback.
A third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2010, McCoy started 21 games his first two seasons in the NFL, and last year was the backup to Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, which advanced to the NFC Championship game for a third-straight year.
Should McCoy make the start on Monday against the Cowboys, it will be his first since Dec. 8, 2011, when his Browns took on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
McCoy on Sunday said he's learned along the way that the NFL is "very unforgiving," and that he's thankful to still have the opportunity to play the game, let alone have a chance to be a team's starter.
"When [the Redskins] called me and said, 'Hey, we already have two quarterbacks but we would like for you to come up here and compete. You never know what happens,' I decided to just do that instead of waiting on anything else," McCoy said of his offseason signing in Washington. "The Good Lord just takes care of me and I'm just thankful that I'm here."
Gruden said McCoy has done everything asked of him, both as the team's No. 3 quarterback and as a veteran presence for Griffin III and Cousins.
"You know, he has had some opportunities to succeed in the past as a starter and had some rough patches, but he is here for a reason and I've always liked his demeanor," Gruden said. "I liked the fact that he came in as a No. 3 and did what he was asked to do, compete the way he is supposed to compete – be supportive to Robert [Griffin III] and Kirk [Cousins] like he is supposed to and then when his opportunity comes, take advantage of it and that is what he has done."