“I get hyped every day I get to put a helmet on,” Haskins said. “Even more excited to put a first start on film, even more excited about it.”
Sunday could be the start of the Haskins era in Washington. Fans have clamored for the rookie first-round pick, considering the team is 1-7 and not in contention for a playoff spot. Interim head coach Bill Callahan has been adamant that the team is still trying to win and said Haskins wasn’t ready to be the No. 1. If he starts Sunday and performs well or Keenum’s head injury lingers, however, Haskins could have the opportunity to earn the job full time.
Keenum was officially limited in practice.
Haskins has faced plenty of criticism in his short time in the league and has been a frequent subject of national media attention. While he continues to struggle with parts of the presnap operation and there have been concerns about how quickly he has picked up the playbook, he also is still eight games into his career after starting only one season at Ohio State. The 22-year-old acknowledged that he has made some changes recently, though he didn’t share the details.
“I don’t think it has nothing to do with this week. I just think it’s a change in me,” Haskins said. “A lot of stuff [caused the change]. A lot of stuff. I’m just excited to keep working.”
Haskins has thrown for 140 yards with four interceptions and no touchdowns with a 54.5 completion percentage in his two appearances. The other players on offense know they need to chip in and help the youngster, and right tackle Morgan Moses specifically pointed to the running game. If they can run the ball and stay in good down-and-distance situations, he said, then life will be easier for Haskins. Moses said the rookie can gain more confidence from more first-team reps and live game action. It’s experience “you can’t buy.”
Left tackle Donald Penn said Haskins had a strong workout Wednesday, taking grasp of the huddle and command of the offense.
“Grasp it, get in your book, don’t be scared to be a leader,” Penn said he told Haskins. “If you see something you don’t like in the huddle, speak up. Guys are going to respect that a lot more than waiting for one of us to do it. I told him to take control. Know his reads. Be laid back and lean on us if he needs anything. He’s picking it up pretty well.”
Running backs Adrian Peterson (ankle) and Chris Thompson (toe) did not practice, along with safeties Montae Nicholson (ankle) and Deshazor Everett (ankle). Cornerback Quinton Dunbar (hamstring), Keenum, tight end Vernon Davis (concussion), linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring), guard Wes Martin (chest) and safety Jeremy Reaves (concussion) were limited. Cornerback Josh Norman (thigh/hand) was a full participant.