Sam Howell has a message for those who doubt his and his team's chances this season: Do so at your own risk.
Howell, who is competing for the Washington Commanders’ starting QB job with Jacoby Brissett, said on Wednesday he believes people are overlooking his chances to succeed based on his draft pedigree (he was picked in Round 5 of the 2022 draft) and lack of experience (one start as a rookie).
"I know some people might think it's crazy, just because of how the draft went and I hardly played at all last year, but for me it doesn't really change anything for me," Howell said. "I know the type of player that I can be in this league, and I feel like I've worked very hard and put myself in this position to go out there and succeed.
"So I (couldn't) really care less about what other people say. It's really about what I hear in this building and what I hear internally."
One thing Howell is hearing at the team's facility is some familiar offensive concepts. New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is bringing with him a playbook chock full of run-pass option calls, something Howell did a lot of in college at North Carolina but which was not a major part of Commanders OC Scott Turner's offense last year.
"Yeah, RPOs, man, that's pretty much all we did in college," Howell said. "So all of our run-game stuff in college was RPO stuff, and last year's offense wasn't near as much of that. But in (Bieniemy's) offense there is a lot of RPO stuff and a lot of stuff that I'm very familiar with -- similar concepts, some of the exact same concepts that we ran at UNC.
"So I'm very confident in my RPO game, and I'm excited to have the ability to do that, because I love that type of stuff and I think you can really make defenses wrong in the run game when you have the RPO ability, so I'm excited that EB's kinda brought that stuff over to us."
Head coach Ron Rivera has yet to officially anoint a starting quarterback, saying he likes having a competition there, even if at least one of the Commanders’ receivers believes Howell eventually will win the job.
Howell also said he believes he has "total command of the offense" and has "made a lot of strides" while learning Bieniemy's system, crediting QB coach Ken Zampese for the extra time he spent with Howell behind the scenes last season.
"I was with (Zampese) all last year, and he spent extra time with me, before practice, after practice, getting extra reps and really working on my feet, so it's a credit to him," Howell said. "And in the offseason I just tried to do the same stuff, and I feel like I've gotten a lot better, and I feel very comfortable with where I'm at."
The Commanders have three preseason games and joint practice sessions with the Baltimore Ravens to figure out who will start Week 1, when they take on the Arizona Cardinals. Howell said he'll make the most of his chances to win the job but knows that the clock is ticking.
"It's definitely a blessing for me to be in this opportunity I'm in, and it's definitely not something that I take for granted," he said. "But at the same time I think there's a lot of work still to be done. I'm not complacent at all, I know still everything is ahead of me and I've got to go out there and earn it and prove it each and every day, so I'm going to continue to do that."