As the Redskins enter the dog days of training camp, the competition for the starting quarterback job remains the headlining conversation.
A year ago, the Redskins having a QB competition in 2019 seemed unthinkable. Quarterback Alex Smith had just been traded to Washington via Kansas City earlier in the offseason, and the former No. 1 overall pick signed a five-year extension with the Burgundy and Gold soon after.
But a gruesome leg injury to Smith last November changed the franchise's plan for the present and the future.
Washington traded for veteran Case Keenum this past offseason and drafted former Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins with their first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The two along with Colt McCoy are all fighting for the starting job when the Burgundy and Gold travel to Philadelphia in Week 1.
So what does this mean for Smith?
The 34-year-old can only move when assisted with crutches, but has been present plenty during training camp. He's been seen several times on the practice field with the quarterbacks, especially near Haskins, as the rookie tries to pick his brain.
“It’s definitely a different role for me, a different capacity," Smith told the Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael on how this training camp has been different for him. "I’m loving being down here; I’m glad I came down. I made the decision to come down here and I’m really happy with it. It’s nice to be around the guys. Selfishly for me, it’s helped me pass some time. I’ve been getting good work in, but at the same time, obviously a different role, almost like a coach a little bit, especially with the quarterbacks.”
While Smith wants to help each quarterback as much as he can, he also has emphasized that at times he chooses to take a step back.
"It’s a fine line," Smith said on how much depth he has been coaching. "We have a lot of coaches in the quarterback room. We have [quarterbacks] coach Rettay, coach [Kevin] O’Connell, and throw Jay [Gruden] in there. He’s in most meetings as well. There’s a lot of voices in there, and for me, I try and select my words carefully, you know."
So for guys like Haskins and Keenum, who are both new to Gruden's complex offensive system, Smith knows at times he has to step back and let the new guys just learn from their coaches.
"I think sometimes you get too many voices in there and it can be a lot of clutter for a young guy like Dwayne [Haskins] and Case [Keenum] new to the system," Smith said.
Smith has been a part of several different quarterback situations in his 13-year career. He's had to learn multiple offensive systems as well. So the veteran can relate to each Redskins QB, as they all are vying for the starting gig.
But all Smith wants to do is help each quarterback as much as he can in order to bring out the best in each one.
"I’ve been in a lot of quarterback situations. I’ve been in three-way competitions before," he said. "I’ve been in a lot of battles. I’ve been around a lot of different guys and I’ve seen how it gets handled. I think even you can kind of just be in that presence for them, you’re able to compete out here on the field, in between the lines, and I think when you step away from it, you can be a good teammate."
Despite the competition being such a tight race, Smith believes that each quarterback can work and co-exist with one another, regardless of who the winner of the job ends up being.
"I think those two can co-exist, and I think being there for those two guys, being a support system for all three of them," Smith said. "They’re all different guys, different points in their career. So helping out in any way I can, it’s not always an X’s and O’s thing.”
As for the Redskins as a whole, Smith is very confident in the group the Burgundy and Gold has for 2019.
"I think we’re sitting in a great situation," Smith said. "I think we have the talent, ability, the guys, the character, and the leadership to absolutely do what we want to do."
But the 34-year-old has emphasized that the team must go one step at a time and not overlook the next obstacle in front of them.
"Obviously that starts with the division and punching your ticket, but I think for us all eyes are staring at the opener and trying to get off to the right start," Smith said on the team's goals for 2019. "Right now, we’re having a great camp, it’s about figuring out the 53 [man roster]."
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