Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins will not play in this week’s game at the Dallas Cowboys after suffering a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, ending his first NFL season with a 2-5 record as a starter. The 15th pick in this year’s draft, Haskins had shown growth in his final two games, overcoming a rocky start to his professional career.
Interim coach Bill Callahan said the current expectation is for Haskins to resume football activities in “a couple weeks.” Haskins went down on the first play of the third quarter when Giants linebackers Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter hit him awkwardly for a sack. The rookie lay on the ground for some time before he walked gingerly toward the stadium tunnel and was driven to the locker room on a medical cart.
He later returned to the sideline after having an X-ray. Team physician Robin West suggested that Haskins not return to play, and owner Daniel Snyder, who had come down to the locker room to check on the quarterback, advised Haskins to listen to the doctor.
Case Keenum, who led three touchdown drives in the second half after Haskins was injured, is expected to start against Dallas.
Haskins’s year ends with 1,365 passing yards, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 58.6 completion percentage. He was in the midst of his best game — completing 12 of 15 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns — when he suffered the injury.
“That’s what I want to do every game,” Haskins said Sunday. “I did it in college, and I know college is not the NFL. The NFL is a much tougher game, but I was in the rhythm and getting hot. So now I’m looking forward to keep going.”
There had been questions surrounding his future with the team and whether the organization should consider selecting a quarterback with next year’s first-round draft pick, which could be as high as second overall, but he appears to have helped his standing with his performance in the past two games. Haskins threw for a career-high 261 yards and two touchdowns in a 10-point loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15.
“I think in the last few weeks he’s taken a great jump progressing through his reads a lot quicker and faster,” Callahan said. “His footwork and fundamentals have improved. Anytime you are the starter, your attention to detail rises to a certain level and it gets … heightened. That’s what I felt about his play in the last few weeks, and you could see that across the field and on tape. You could see it in the building. Those are real positive traits going forward for him.”
Haskins faced challenging circumstances from the start of his Redskins tenure. There was some division within the organization over whether to draft him with the 15th pick, and then-coach Jay Gruden didn’t want to start him early, opting for Keenum and Colt McCoy before being fired after five games. Callahan went with Keenum after taking over as the interim coach, but he turned the starting job over to Haskins in Week 9.
It was obvious early that Haskins had some work to do in terms of the basic operations of the offense, including the verbiage of the plays, getting in and out of the huddle, understanding the team’s pass protections and being comfortable with it all. But his ability as a passer was obvious throughout, and he has shown progress in recent weeks.
Callahan mentioned pocket presence as an area in which Haskins can still improve — maneuvering in traffic, knowing when to run and how to create throwing lanes when things get muddled. He gave a glimpse of that with an impressive 10-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Steven Sims Jr. during the first quarter of Sunday’s loss.
“It’s experience,” Callahan said. “That experience is invaluable. Anytime you’re between the white lines and you’re seeing coverages live and defenders live and making the game-to-game adjustments and adaptations you have to make as a quarterback in the NFL, you’re going to get better. He certainly has proven that. He has a long way to go yet, but it was a real, real positive stride in his development and then in his growth.”
For now, the Redskins appear set to enter the 2020 season with a young core of offensive players, including Haskins, wide receivers Sims, Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon, and running back Derrius Guice.
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