PULLMAN — Just because he’s an unlikely candidate for the initial starter’s role, don’t count Trey Tinsley out of the Washington State quarterback picture yet.

Tinsley took about a third of the reps during skeleton and 11-on-11 periods in practice Wednesday, with front-runner Anthony Gordon taking the rest.

In other words, Tinsley assumed the backup role Gage Gubrud had filled for more than a week. The Cougars are preparing for their season opener Aug. 31 at home against New Mexico State.

“I think all three can play in this conference,” WSU coach Mike Leach said, “so I want them all sharp, just so we have as much depth as we can have.”

The race at quarterback had been a three-man affair for most of preseason camp before Leach transitioned into a Gordon vs. Gubrud phase last week, then began awarding Gordon most of the reps in recent workouts. But Tinsley didn’t look rusty in his return.

“I thought he looked real sharp out there,” running back Max Borghi said. “I think when he gets an opportunity like he did today, he needs to make the best out of it, and I think he did a real good job.”

The Cougars had introduced scout-team play Tuesday, and Leach wasn’t thrilled with the results. But he saw improvement the next day.

“I thought the scout work was impressive on all sides today,” he said. “I thought they did a good job.”

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