Dwayne Haskins to make first start for Redskins vs. Bills

Craig Hoffman
November 01, 2019 - 5:48 pm
Dwayne Haskins to make first start for Redskins vs. Bills

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

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Dwayne Haskins will make his first career start Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, according to Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan. Haskins was the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and has made two appearances this season in relief of injured starter Case Keenum.

"We're really excited about Dwayne's opportunity," Callahan said after announcing that Keenum remains in concussion protocol and that Haskins will start in his place. "A young quarterback going up against one of the top-three defenses in the league. It will be a great challenge for him, a learning experience and a great challenge for all of us to pull together, rally around Dwayne and go up there and compete against a top team in the AFC East."

Haskins has struggled in his playing time so far as a pro. He's thrown four interceptions in just 22 career passes, but this will be Haskins' first time playing after a full week of starters reps. He'll also start the game versus coming in when his team is struggling and trailing.

"I thought his preparation was excellent," Callahan said. "When you're preparing in a starting role – as he was beginning to work this week just in the eventuality that he was the starter – I think you see the magnitude of that responsibility take place. When you're taking every rep throughout the week, I really believe everything intensifies."

Haskins downplayed any excitement at potentially starting when he talked to the media on Wednesday. "I get hype every day I get to put a helmet on," the rookie said. "So it's even more incentive. To put my first start on film? Even more excited about it."

Terry McLaurin, the Redskins' top target and Haskins' teammate at Ohio State, echoed that sentiment, calling the quarterback's demeanor business-like.

"I've known Dwayne for a long time now," McLaurin said. "He likes to have fun but at the same time he's been really working on his command in the huddle. I feel like that's very important, because it permeates throughout the entire offense. It gives the O-line confidence. It gives everyone confidence that you come in, know the call, know what you're looking at and can go out and execute. I feel like that's very big for him and I feel like that's the biggest jump I've seen since he's been playing this year."

The Redskins will look to run the ball on a Bills defense that gave up over 200 yards rushing to Philadelphia last weekend. While it's not thought of very often, the quarterback has an essential role in the run game. Haskins has to make sure players are accounted for and that the right run play is on, something he's improved on over the last few weeks.

"You look at Wednesday and his understanding – that's a huge day really – understand what we're doing from a standpoint in the run game and how we kind of want to pair it all together with things that we may be doing in the pass game," offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell explained. "So watching him kind of do that – some of the crossover tape this week included some pretty good quarterbacks on tape that the Bills have played.

"I mean they get (Patriots QB Tom Brady) No. 12 up in New England, we're watching him and there's times where you can sit there and say, 'you see what he's doing here, he's making sure they have this guy blocked or that the line knows exactly where they're going from a targeting standpoint' and little things like that."

"So, he can not only listen to me say it and listen to (QB Coach) Tim (Rattay) say it, but he can see guys doing it and one of the best to ever do it, to play the position doing it and seeing how it can have a positive impact on that play," O'Connell said. "But there's no doubt he plays a big role in the run game, that's in any offense in the NFL. It's hard for the quarterback not to do that. So, he's taking that challenge on and he's done a really good job so far."

Callahan has repeatedly said that Keenum is the starter until further notice as long as he is healthy, but he's been less committal to saying the veteran will keep his job after the bye, when explicitly asked. The Redskins coach didn't entertain a question about what would happen if Haskins played well, saying merely they're not committing to anything right now and are taking the quarterback situation one game at a time.

Colt McCoy will be Haskins' backup Sunday. Keenum likely will not make the trip as he remains in concussion protocol.

Follow @CraigHoffman for more Redskins insights

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