ASHBURN, Va. – The scene was different for a Washington Redskins rookie minicamp, with about three dozen media members present. Seven years have passed since they held that kind of meeting for a fledgling minicamp. But, as in the days of Robert Griffin III, the Redskins have a quarterback as their last symbol of hope: Dwayne Haskins.
The Redskins still don't know if Haskins will start this season, as coach Jay Gruden said there will be an open competition for first place. They know, however, that after two days of rookie minicamps, Haskins impressed.
"It was a pleasure," said Gruden. "He made some head-turning shots without a doubt."
Added Doug Williams, senior vice president of staff for Redskins players: "It doesn't take long for the ball to come from point A to point B."
The Redskins, who designed Haskins with the 15th absolute choice, are preaching patience. This does not mean that he will not compete for the starting job, however, since he was selected at the top for a reason.
They know that there is a learning curve for Haskins, and two days of work against other novices do not lend themselves to great conclusions. On Saturday, in his first job with the media, Haskins showed his live-arm.
Gruden said Haskins played better Friday than Saturday, when he missed several throws – some were tall, some behind and others were on target. During individual work, however, Haskins connected to a series of red zone passages, including a perfect fade for the former Ohio teammate. Terry McLaurin in the corner of the final area. In the full team exercises, Haskins fumbled with a snap from below the center.
In work 7-on-7, Haskins had to download several times. After a certain number of games, a coach or another would offer instructions. He made some launches with anticipation, the ball coming as a receiver would turn. He threw deep, even though one was intercepted.
"It's a challenge, you want it to be challenging," Haskins said. "The most important thing is to try to apply the matches on the field. (There were) 50 games put up so far, a lot of things to do. It's fun to throw the ball around again. The most important thing is that I bounced from them and I don't see the time to improve ".
Haskins was patient in the state of Ohio, sitting back J.T. Barrett for two years before getting his chance last season. It remains to be seen if he will need to be that patient in Washington along with the Case Keenum and Colt McCoy quarterbacks, none of whom have a firm grip on the starting job.
"We throw the ball out there and let them compete," said Gruden. "Obviously he showed enough skill to guarantee the 15th choice, and we will give him the opportunity to see how far he can take this without a doubt."
Gruden said he doesn't like a three-man race for the starting job because it's difficult to split the representatives to give each quarterback a chance.
"The most important thing in the next two weeks is, let's see how far we can push this guy," Gruden said. "Let's see if there is a possibility that he can win the job, if we feel he is coming more slowly, then maybe we have to push Case or push Colt. But if we think (Haskins) is coming and he is shooting and he is comfortable , then we'll play it and see what happens ".
Haskins, 22, said he will take the same approach he did in the state of Ohio.
"I'll be ready for whatever the coaches want from me, whether you start right away or next year or during the season," said Haskins. "I will prepare as if I were the appetizer."
But he also admitted that waiting for two years to play was not easy – and enlightened his mentality.
"Definitely difficult," Haskins said. "Every competitor wants to play, but you have to know that it's for the team, it's bigger than you and if the coaches feel the best option to win games this year, I'll be more than enthusiastic. I'm not ready, I'll make sure I'll be ready. "
The Redskins want to improve Haskins's footwork. They want him to feel comfortable coming down from the center, something he didn't do with the Buckeyes. They want you to get used to restoring your feet under pressure.
"With the quarterback, it starts with the basics," said Gruden. "It's a guy who didn't call many games in the huddle, so we're talking about breaking the clash and calling games in the group, and counting the snapshots, making the kids line up, face his progressions, his footwork – not just in passing games, but in the running game: he throws himself a lot, it's a long process, but he's a brilliant guy, I was impressed ".
Williams, who defeated the Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII, said he liked how Haskins behaved on the scrimmage line, had control and lined up the players in the right areas.
"You can see that he worked a lot in the offseason," Williams said.
It was enough to whet the sporting appetite of the approximately 100 special invitation fans who participated in the training. Later they lined up the sidewalk outside the Redskins bubble for autographs, most of them waiting for Haskins, who was the last to leave.
The fans took pictures, asked Haskins questions about playing in his hometown and shouted his name: "Mr. Haskins!" – get an autograph. It's the most buzz generated by a Redskins quarterback from Griffin.
But to everything about Haskins, he said, is what happens on the field.
"The most important thing I have to do is play well on Sundays, and that's all I can't see now," said Haskins. "All other things come when necessary."
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