UW coach Chris Petersen says he’s not concerned about one of his quarterbacks getting hurt on the punt-protection unit.

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We don’t yet know if Jeff Lindquist will wind up being the Huskies’ best option at quarterback. We do know this: The 245-pound junior has shown the most moxie, and he is the most versatile option.

On Thursday, Washington had its first “live” period of tackle football at the end of its sixth practice of fall camp, a brief but productive nine-play sequence of full-contact hitting near the goal line. UW’s top three quarterbacks, Lindquist, Jake Browning and K.J. Carta-Samuels, each put on a white jersey over their usual gold (no-contact) tops, signaling to defenders that they were allowed to hit the quarterbacks, a rare occurrence in practice at any level of football.

Lindquist, running the second-string offense, threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Drew Sample. On the next snap, Lindquist kept the ball, ran left and lowered his shoulder into redshirt freshman safety JoJo McIntosh, who already has a reputation as the team’s fiercest hitter. Lindquist’s helmet popped off as he lunged and reached the ball toward the goal line for an apparent score.

It was, without a doubt, the most memorable play of camp so far.

Lindquist is solidly built at 245 pounds but, no, UW coach Chris Petersen said he would prefer not see a quarterback get his helmet popped off.

“I enjoy it,” Lindquist said of the contact, “but I’m not going to pretend it’s something I want to do every day.”

Lindquist’s fullback-like size and plow-through-the-defender mentality is a bit unusual for a quarterback. Even more unusual is that Lindquist has continued to serve as the punter’s “personal protector” on special teams.

It’s a job Lindquist did throughout last season, shielding off the oncoming rush as the punter’s last line of defense. But he was a backup quarterback then. If Lindquist wins the job, would Petersen really consider using his starting quarterback as the personal protector?

To paraphrase Petersen, yes, yes he would.

“Not in my mind it doesn’t (change),” Petersen said. “He did it all last year.”

What does he like about Lindquist as the personal protector?

“He’s smart,” Petersen said. “Our punt team is not your standard (punt team). It’s very unorthodox. So the guy that runs the show, like a quarterback, has to be very dialed in. (Lindquist) is smart and he’s also a physical player, so he can direct traffic back there.”

He’s not worried about the (potential) starting quarterback/(projected) punt protector — a combination that would surely would be a first of its kind — getting hurt?

“It’s not a super physical (job),” Petersen said. “Knock on wood; I probably shouldn’t say this, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a personal protector get hurt. … I don’t think it’s a super (taxing) position. You’ve got to direct traffic.”

Lindquist said he enjoys the added special-teams work.

“It’s a cool, kind of strategy game lining guys up and being in control of the whole punt team,” said Lindquist, who is also UW’s holder on field goals and PATs. “So I kind of enjoy that aspect. I actually played catcher back in the day, so it makes me think of blocking the plate. So I enjoy being part of that.”

An added bonus, perhaps, of having a quarterback in front of the punter is it opens the door for trick-play options — and we know how much Petersen likes to draw up the occasional trick play.

As the Huskies wrap up their first week of camp Friday, what we don’t know is where Lindquist fits in the quarterback competition. But Lindquist, at least, has a home on the punt team.

UW QB QUICK READS

Observations and highlights in the three-man competition for the Huskies’ starting quarterback job:

The good: All three of the top QBs continue to share snaps about equally with the first-string offense. None of the QBs has done enough to separate himself. “They’re all pretty good,” Petersen said. “Nobody’s right where we need ’em to be. And I’m not saying that (to be evasive) — that’s the reality of the situation. They’re all doing a pretty good job, but I don’t think one has separated himself.”

The bad: There were four turnovers on the day, the most in camp so far, including three interceptions. Browning had one pass tipped in the back of the end zone by CB Sidney Jones, with safety Brandon Beaver diving to haul in the tipped pass. On the final series, Carta-Samuels had his first pass tipped at the line of scrimmage; LB Connor O’Brien caught the deflected ball and raced the other way for what would have been a 95-yard pick six (the play was blown dead during his return).

 

Related video: Husky QB competition

As football camp gets underway, freshmen Jake Browning and K.J. Carta-Samuels are making the competition for UW starting quarterback tight. Read more. (Katie G. Cotterill / The Seattle Times)