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White Proves Worthy

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It's amazing the difference that six months can make.

Last January, Pat White recognized that a culture change in the NFL had shifted the perception of mobile quarterbacks from gimmick props to hot commodities.

The time was right for another run at his dreams of playing in the NFL.

White spent January and February getting back into shape, while attracting the interests of several teams around the NFL.

While many had interest in what White brought to the table, few had committed to the read-option system quite like the Washington Redskins.

On April 4, three weeks before the 2013 NFL Draft, White signed with the quarterback-rich Redskins, beginning his improbable run at a spot on the final 53-man roster.

For him, the journey back was inspired by a love for the game and the need to answer the question of whether or not he had the ability to compete at the NFL level.

"I miss the competitiveness of the game, the challenge of the daily grind," he told Redskins.com in April. "I am trying to get better, and I'm going to push everyone each and every day.

"My mentality is different in that I treat every day like it's game day.

 "I feel like the Redskins chose me. I put myself out there to find the right situation, and I felt like this is the best fit for me. The way they ran the offense really excited me. And I was just happy for them to give me an opportunity.

For his new head coach, the move was a low risk worth taking, as Robert Griffin III recovered from ACL reconstructive surgery and the team needed extra camp arms.

"I didn't know Pat but I liked the way he played in college. I really didn't study him," head coach Mike Shanahan confessed during the NFL Draft. "I've been very impressed with him as a person, him as a football player. You can see that he's a great athlete.

One of his initial accolades was the speed with which White picked up the offense, preparing himself after four seasons away from football.

"He picks things up extremely quick. He's never been in our system and yet he doesn't make any mistakes," Shanahan said. "You can tell 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 succeed.

"I've been very impressed. Now we get a chance to evaluate him in games."

White got his opportunities this preseason, playing more than any other Redskins quarterback, including playing for all 60 minutes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Game 4.

After the game White reflected on the journey that brought him to this point, years after his initial chance in the NFL.

"We all strive for perfection but never reach it," he said. "I think I've come a long way mentally, physically, but I still have a long way to go.

"I don't think I hurt myself but I don't know if I helped myself. Right now, I'm going to just get ready to come to work on Saturday.

"I'm just thankful to have this opportunity. Who knows what's going to happen?"

As it turned out, White did report to Redskins Park on Saturday and he did not get the dreaded visit to the coach's office with his playbook.

Defying the odds from the very start, White won his uphill battle for a roster spot, forcing the Redskins to carry four quarterbacks on their final 53-man roster.

This is a very unusual maneuver, especially for a team with an established quarterback hierarchy. 

Take, for instance, the other two teams to carry four quarterbacks after roster cuts are the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders. These two teams combined for 10 wins last season and have no clear-cut starter heading in Week 1.

In the hours, days and weeks ahead, the Redskins may find need to release or trade one of the four quarterbacks on the roster. But for right now, White is just happy to be back in the mix.

"I definitely want to continue playing the game. I have a lot of passion for it, I love it and I've been playing it for a while now," he said. "I took a little break, which was a huge mistake on my part, but everything happens for a reason.

"I'm definitely blessed to have this opportunity and happy that the coach gave me a chance."

With a preseason stat line of 28-for-50 for 330 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, White has the opportunity to hone his own skills as he helps prepare the defense for another mobile, left-handed quarterback in Michael Vick.

He can rest assured that there will be no bigger critic than the man in the mirror.

"[Judge] myself, personally? Too many mistakes, I think," he said of his preseason. "I'm hard on myself, which I should be. I'm thankful to have that opportunity; blessed that coach let me play.

"I had fun but I'm ready to clean up the mistakes."

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