The Washington Commanders reversed course and will start rookie quarterback Sam Howell in Sunday's regular-season finale vs. the Dallas Cowboys, coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday.
Until late Wednesday morning, the Commanders were strongly leaning toward starting Taylor Heinicke and having Howell play in relief, according to multiple sources. Carson Wentz will be inactive.
Washington wants to see more of Howell, the only quarterback on the active roster signed for the 2023 season. Washington coach Ron Rivera said after speaking with other coaches and team leaders he opted to go with Howell.
"The most important thing is we're really intrigued in seeing what Sam can do in this league," Rivera said. "The opportunity is going to be a good one for him to go out and play and show us. We won't judge everything on Sam based on one game. We get an opportunity to see how he prepares."
Rivera said Howell told him, "I'm ready to roll" when he informed the rookie of the decision.
The Commanders (7-8-1) were eliminated from playoff contention last week. Dallas (12-4) can still win the NFC East with a victory and a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Howell becomes the 33rd quarterback to start for Washington since it last won the Super Bowl after the 1991 season. He's the eighth different starter in coach Ron Rivera's three seasons, highlighting a key reason why the Commanders will once more finish with a non-winning season.