Is the "Cult of Colt" ending?

Backup quarterbacks have always been popular in Washington. Babe Laufenberg was a preseason legend. Todd Collins delivered a 5-0 finish. Whomever the backup was during the Sonny Jurgensen-Billy Kilmer cycle was the more popular passer.

An ongoing thread on third-stringer Colt Brennan has 975,575 reads and 16,393 comments. Fans love this second coming of Sonny's moxie since Brennan led the Redskins to two touchdowns in the 2008 Hall of Fame game.

But Redskins followers may be losing another favorite -- Brennan is on the cusp when training camp begins Thursday.

Donovan McNabb's the starter and Rex Grossman's No. 2. That leaves Brennan battling Richard Bartel for the final slot.

Bartel? The guy from Tarleton State (which of the 50 is that again?) who threw 16 touchdowns over two years in college before practice squad stints in Jacksonville, Cleveland and Dallas. The one who was a third-stringer for the Redskins in six games last season while Brennan missed the year on injured reserve?

Watch this duel over the preseason. New coach Mike Shanahan plays no favorites. Indeed, don't be surprised to see a couple more unexpected names leave in late August after an offseason Black Friday purge that claimed 10 veterans like Randy Thomas, Cornelius Griffin and Fred Smoot.

Shanahan inherited Brennan and that's a huge difference over drafting him. Brennan was the choice of Vinny Cerrato, whose late draft choices were just one of 698,065 reasons why he was finally fired in December.

Bartel is a carryover, too. However, he gained much of the offseason work while Brennan recovered from surgery. Shanahan already senses what Bartel can do after an impressive offseason. But preseason games will decide who stays. Both figure to get plenty of snaps as the Redskins won't risk McNabb beyond the minimum.

Ironically, Brennan is finally healthy for the first time since drafted in the 2008 sixth round. Both hips have now been surgically repaired. His arm feels better. He knows the pro game better.

Brennan nearly gained his own island after breaking 31 NCAA records at Hawaii, including 131 touchdown passes. The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist was also the 2006 Sammy Baugh Award winner.

Brennan has the "it" factor. He's not the greatest physical talent, but still gets things done. When vying for a job in the 2009 preseason finale over challenger Chase Daniel, Brennan delivered several big plays before getting injured. He went on injured reserve, once again teasing fans over his potential.

Maybe Brennan will start someday. He certainly has more talent than former Redskins passer Gus Frerotte, who somehow played 15 seasons for seven teams. It just may be elsewhere.

Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more at and Twitter @Snide_Remarks or e-mail