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Commanders HC Dan Quinn has 'no great declarations' of who his Week 1 starter will be

Washington Commanders head coach Dan Quinn isn't yet ready to name his starting quarterback.

The Commanders drafted Jayden Daniels No. 2 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft, but the LSU product has been splitting reps with veteran QB Marcus Mariota this spring. Quinn said on Thursday that was by design, not based on anything either quarterback has done well or poorly to this point.

More than a month away from the start of training camp, Quinn indicated that he has "no great declarations" to this point on who his Week 1 starter will be.

"Well, in true competition, that's why we set it up as we did to have Marcus have some (first-team reps) and Jayden to have some," Quinn told reporters at the conclusion of the team's offseason program.

The early feedback on Daniels has been very positive, though. The Heisman Trophy-winning QB has earned praise for his talent and preparation since his arrival, first from Commanders rookies and later from veteran receivers. Quinn also had plenty of nice things to say about Daniels, saying the rookie deserves the chance to win the job outright from the start.

"There's no doubt that Jayden's making unbelievable progress here, and we'll have a really fun camp, but he's earned that opportunity to go compete," Quinn said. "We wouldn't have given him those spaces and those times and those reps if he hadn't. But it was really clear that he's put in the work and he was ready to do that. So, it was by intention for sure that he was able to do that."

For his part, Daniels previously said that the decision on which quarterback starts Week 1 is “above” him. On Wednesday, Daniels was asked how the star-quarterback treatment has been since landing in D.C., but Daniels shut that notion down quickly.

"I mean, I ain't a star quarterback yet," he said. "I got a long way to go. I'm a rookie, to answer that."

The Commanders also have journeyman Jeff Driskel and undrafted rookie Sam Hartman on the roster, but it would be a shock if anyone but Mariota or Daniels is under center on the opening Sunday against the Buccaneers in Tampa. Even recent history suggests Daniels starting is likely. The last QB taken first or second overall not to start in Week 1 was Mitchell Trubisky with the Bears back in 2018.

Mariota, 30, appeared in three games for the Eagles last season, completing 15 of 23 passes (65.2%) for 164 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for 52 yards on eight carries. Mariota started 13 games for the Falcons in 2022, throwing for 2,219 yards, 15 TDs and nine interceptions. Those are the only games he's started in the NFL since leaving the Titans after the 2019 season.

Quinn said he really likes the dynamic of the QB competition and believes Mariota -- who coincidentally also was a former No. 2 overall pick -- can help mentor Daniels. But Quinn also praised the rookie's demeanor and confidence, as well as his humility, striking the veteran coach as being an unusual characteristic for a younger player.

"He's got a swagger to him," Quinn said. "He really has a very firm handle on the things that we're doing, but he also has the humility of a young player.

"And so I thought, what a cool combination to have this presence as an older player, but yet the humility of the new and younger player, knowing that he has a lot to prove. … What a rare and really cool combination that is."

Daniels appears to have what it takes -- as well as every chance -- to win the starting job during training camp. The Commanders likely would love nothing more than for the rookie to go win the job, and if he continues to earn praise such as this when training camp rolls around, that decision might only be a matter of time.

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