The Redskins raised a few eyebrows around the NFL in April when they signed former West Virginia quarterback Pat White, who had been out of football for three years.
Did they envision White as an offseason stand-in for the recovering Robert Griffin III? Did offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan intend to use White at a position other than quarterback?
Asked recently about his role, White made two things clear: he’s here to make the Redskins’ 53-man roster, and to make it as a quarterback.
“I don’t think there are any plays in this playbook specifically designed for anybody,” White said.
And, no, White has not been part of any wildcat formations.
“I’m here to play quarterback,” he said flatly.
With Griffin sidelined at least until training camp, No. 2 quarterback Kirk Cousins has been taking all of the first team reps this offseason. That’s left White and Rex Grossman, last year’s third stringer, to split the rest of the workload.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” White said. “I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m willing to do it. I’m trying to get better.”
He added: “For me it’s just timing, understanding the offense and where the coach wants you to go. And learning my teammates.”
After being released by the Dolphins in September 2010, White tried his hand at minor league baseball, music and acting classes. But no matter how hard the former second round pick tried run away from the game he dominated in college, his thoughts always wandered back to football and what might have been in Miami.
“Always in the back of my mind,” he said, “I knew that I wanted to do it. I was just trying my hardest to fight to stay away from it. But I came full circle, and thank God I was brought right back to it.”
Earlier this year, White spent almost two months working with noted quarterback guru George Whitfield in San Diego. White honed his footwork, regained the zip on his passes and put on some muscle (the Redskins list him at 6-foot, 190-pounds).
Once NFL teams were aware of White's comeback bid, he attracted interest from the Redskins, 49ers and Giants, among others. But he liked what Mike Shanahan had to say most.
“I loved what they put down in front of me,” he said. “They also seemed like they had the most interest, which I’m very grateful for.”
Asked what Shanahan has told him about the team’s expectations, White said the coaching staff simply wants to see him improve.
“They want to see me develop and get better every day, progress as a quarterback,” he said.
Shanahan said he’s been thoroughly impressed by White’s work ethic and performance during OTAs. But the coach also sounded eager to see what the quarterback can do in preseason games.
“I’ve been very impressed with him as a person, as a football player,” the coach said. “You can see he’s a great athlete. He picks things up extremely quick. He’s never been in our system and yet he doesn’t make any mistakes. You can tell that he’s a student of the game and that this is very important to him. He’s done everything necessary to put himself in the best position to success. Now, we will get a chance to evaluate him in games.”
It remains to be seen what will become of White’s time in Washington. But he’s got the second chance he sought, and by all accounts, he's focused on making the most of it.
“I think I’ve picked up on the offense pretty well,” he said. “There’s some rust there. There’s some things I can better at, a lot of things I can improve on. So I’m here working with my teammates, trying to accomplish that.”