Redskins to start veteran QB Colt McCoy vs. Patriots

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Jay Gruden finally announced his starting quarterback for Sunday's tilt versus the New England Patriots.

Colt McCoy gets the nod.

The decision doesn't come as a surprise as Gruden seemed to lean that way if McCoy proved healthy after a long recovery process from a broken leg that included several setbacks. McCoy returned to practice this week.

Gruden had played coy all week when asked who his starter would be this week, insisting McCoy, Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins all had a shot to earn the gig. However, the coach noted when announcing the choice that he'd made the decision "a long time ago."

It's likely that had McCoy been healthy from the start of the season, he, not Keenum, would have been under center Week 1.

"Well, it's his job to lose. That's for sure," Gruden said when asked if McCoy would have started the season if healthy. "You could see he wasn't quite healthy in training camp and that's why we sat him, make him get well, get that strength back and the confidence back in his leg."

McCoy has the most experience in Gruden's system, joining the coach in Washington when he took over in 2014. The 33-year-old signal-caller started four games that first season, but has just two starts in the six seasons since, both coming last year before he suffered the leg injury. McCoy is, however, 1-0 in his career versus the Patriots -- a 34-14 victory with the Cleveland Browns back in 2010 -- if you're squinting for positive sunlight.

Gruden noted McCoy's familiarity with his system after six years when naming him the starter.

"It means a lot," he said. "I think it's, any coach will tell you that, it's very, very important for your quarterback to know your system. Otherwise you have to change your system and make the quarterbacks know it. There's no excuse for any quarterback -- I think all three of them know the system but Colt has the most experience in it. He's very comfortable with it. But we'll see. I think this will be a great test for him. He hasn't faced a live rush since Philadelphia last year. l think that will be the biggest test for him."

As for who will play backup to the veteran passer, Gruden was mum, noting he'd have a better idea Saturday whether Keenum, who is dealing with a foot injury, could play, or whether he'd be the backup if cleared.

Going with McCoy, with whom Gruden has had a fixation for years, isn't a surprise for anyone who's been watching the situation unfold in Washington as the Redskins have gotten off to an 0-4 start. Haskins' struggles last week in relief, and Gruden's reluctance to play the rookie to begin with, doesn't inspire confidence in the rookie moving forward. At some point, however, the first-round pick should be tossed into the fire.

It's seemed for years that Gruden had been searching for an excuse to start McCoy. With his job on the line and the QB finally healthy, the coach is taking what could be his final shot to do so.

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