Training camp should be a major opportunity for Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins to get a lot of work with new offensive coordinator Scott Turner and the new playbook, but if Alex Smith is healthy, the reps for Haskins might shrink.
"The biggest thing we’ve got to do is not make sure we’re divvying up the reps as evenly as possible, but we divvy up who they work against. This could be a very interesting challenge for us because of QB Alex Smith. If Alex is healthy and continues to get healthy and we do activate him, he’s going to be in the throes of this competition," head coach Ron Rivera said on Monday.
The Washington Football Team drafted Haskins 15th overall last year, only after Smith suffered a broken leg in November 2018. Rivera wasn't around for either of the decisions to draft Haskins or trade for Smith, but now the new coach gets to try and solve the QB riddle in Washington.
Haskins struggled as a rookie in part because he didn't get much practice work with the first team offense. It was obvious how little Haskins knew of the offense and his offensive teammates when he first got on the field in Week 4 last year. Some of that might have been self-inflicted, regardless, Haskins needed the work.
Now in his second season, Haskins got exactly zero team drills in this offseason due to Coronavirus. None.
So, with what should be the most important training camp of his young professional career, Haskins again might face another hurdle in the return of Smith.
Smith deserves tremendous accolades for his recovery after 17 surgeries and intense infection in his leg. But is Smith getting back on the field the best thing for a young Washington team trying to rebuild?
Haskins is 23. Smith is 36.
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Haskins has tremendous potential, Smith has already proven he can produce.
Haskins has started seven NFL games. Smith has started seven NFL playoff games.
Considering all of that, Haskins should get the most work of any Washington passer.
Take note that Rivera didn't say the reps needed to be equitable, but rather the level of competition. Haskins needs more reps than Smith or Kyle Allen.
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Smith has been in the NFL since he was drafted first overall in 2005. Allen started 13 games for Rivera and Turner in the last two seasons. Haskins hasn't even been through a padded practice with Rivera and Turner.
It makes total sense to get Allen reps against the first-team defense. He needs to be prepared. And should Smith get medically cleared to be back on the field against a defense, he should get some of those reps too. Washington needs to see what Smith has left if he actually gets cleared for football.
Still, Haskins should get the majority of that work. He needs it, and Rivera needs to see what he has in the former Ohio State star.
Smith's recovery is an incredible story, but Rivera's plan in Washington is a long-term rebuild to put together a consistent playoff team. That means getting Haskins on the field as much as possible.
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