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Alex Smith thinks his return wouldn't hurt Dwayne Haskins' career with Redskins

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Alex Smith thinks his return wouldn't hurt Dwayne Haskins' career with Redskins

Redskins quarterback Alex Smith spoke to the media for the first time in months on Monday, emphasizing his hope to return to playing football once again while downplaying any desire to join the Redskins front office.

Smith, who suffered a gruesome leg injury against the Texans 15 months ago, is still a ways away from returning to the football field. Standing without a brace or any protection on his leg, Smith told reporters he plans to continue to rehab throughout the offseason and "continue to push this as far as it goes."

Prior to Smith's injury, he was without question the Redskins quarterback of the present and of the future. After coming to Washington in March of 2018 via Kansas City, Smith inked a four-year extension that would keep him in the Burgundy and Gold through 2022.

Of course, that one November afternoon in 2018 changed it all. Washington went 1-5 without Smith in 2019, missing the playoffs for a third straight season. With Smith's status unknown, the team drafted quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the 2019 draft. Haskins had his growing pains early on but finished his rookie season showing plenty of promise. 

So, if Smith were to return fully healthy, what would his role be? Would there be a competition between him and Haskins?

The veteran downplayed any notion of such competition and doesn't think his path to returning to football intersects with Haskins' growth as a quarterback.

"For me, that's the last of my concerns," Smith said. "I think that his path and trajectory and mine are not conflicting with each other at all. Any kind of narrative of that I think is just not real."

While Smith was unable to play at all in 2019, he was around the team plenty. He served as a mentor for Haskins, and the two were seen interacting with each other multiple times in training camp and at practice.

"My focus is singularly on getting back to where I was and even better," Smith said. "That doesn't mean I also can't be a good teammate. Those things aren't exclusive from one another. I've learned that along the road."

In the early part of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, Smith had his share of struggles. In his first six years with the team, Smith was 19-31 as a starter. He missed an entire season with a shoulder injury. It wasn't until 2011, his seventh year in the NFL, that a team he quarterbacked made the playoffs.

Smith has a perspective of where Haskins is in his career. Throughout the season, he's done whatever he could to help the young passer.

"I've been so appreciative of guys that have helped me along the way when I was young and learned from a lot of different guys," Smith said. "I do feel like my job as a teammate is to do that for everybody, not just Dwayne but especially him, too."

The veteran quarterback did not want to be too overbearing for the rookie passer. Smith cited that Haskins had several different people in his ear at once, and didn't want to be another voice talking Xs and Os with him.

"It's so much easier to be in that room and compete with somebody and be out there every single day with them, and not so much talking at somebody," Smith said. "Really just being more of an example. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that. So I was pretty cautious. I hate to be the guy that's always talking and giving advice. I don't think that's the way you learn and grow."

Smith said he focused on other things with Haskins, such as his preparation and his mindset each week.

"You kind of fine tune, find your way. There's not like one way [to go about it]," Smith said. "You have to find what works for you and how you prepare, your mindset, things like that. I think there's so much that goes into playing at this level, especially quarterback. Some of it kind of comes up as you go, and I think just being there for him, being around."

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Ron Rivera sees releasing Josh Norman as an opportunity for Redskins to get younger

Ron Rivera sees releasing Josh Norman as an opportunity for Redskins to get younger

On Friday the Redskins released veteran cornerback Josh Norman, and on Saturday head coach Ron Rivera explained that the decision allowed the team to get younger at a key position. 

"The big thing is it's an opportunity for us to get younger. Josh is a veteran guy and again, just looking at the young guys that we have, we got to get these guys on the football field and more exposed," Rivera said. 

Rivera spoke to reporters at a charity event in Charlotte, and while everything he said is true, it's also not the full story. Yes, Norman just turned 32 in December, but Washington's decision to cut him was not solely about age. 

Norman was set to make $15 million in 2020, and the team will save $12.5 million on the salary cap by letting him go. And his level of play no longer validated the hefty price tag and probably hasn't for the last two seasons. Norman finished the 2019 season on the bench and only played in rare situations when the other active cornerbacks were hurt. 

As for a youth movement at cornerback, it's coming, ready or not. Quinton Dunbar is in the last year of his deal and will be 28 when the season starts. Fabian Moreau will be in the last year of his rookie deal and will be 26 when the season starts. Jimmy Moreland had an up and down rookie year in 2019 and will be 25 when the season starts this fall. 

Some NFL sources also expect the Redskins to be quite active in free agency, particularly at the cornerback spot. Two names to watch are unrestricted free agents James Bradberry and Bashaud Breeland. Bradberry played for Rivera in Carolina while Breeland nearly signed with the Panthers as a free agent in 2018 before a foot injury voided his contract. 

So sure, the Redskins released Norman in part of an effort to get a younger roster. But there was plenty more involved, Rivera just decided to take the high road with his public comments. 

NOTES: Rivera also got asked about taking the Redskins job earlier this offseason: "It's going well. It's a little bit of a transition obviously as well. It's an opportunity to change things and kind of put things in the way we want to have them done. "

The coach also got asked about the difference between coaching in Charlotte and coaching in D.C. "The area is huge. Compared to here there's a lot of people," Rivera said. "It's very loud. All the restaurants are very loud." True words. 

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How much do people love Ron Rivera? Watch this video from Charlotte

How much do people love Ron Rivera? Watch this video from Charlotte

Panthers owner David Tepper fired head coach Ron Rivera after Week 12 of the 2019 season. Usually an in-season firing means that fans have turned on the coach amid a lost season.

In Carolina, that wasn't exactly the case.

When Rivera was fired, he and his wife Stephanie took out a full-page ad in The Charlotte Observer to thank a number of people and show gratitude for his nine years as head coach of the Panthers. That's unusual.

It seems that many Panthers fans were waiting to get their opportunity to thank Rivera, and on Saturday, it came.

Hundreds of Carolina fans showed up in Charlotte to say goodbye to Rivera as well as raise money for the Charlotte Humane Society. Why? Rivera decided to hold a yard sale of sorts, selling much of his Panthers gear, signed shirts and memorabilia going to the Humane Society. The event raised more than $30,000. 

The whole idea is admirable, and it appears from social media that the execution was a hit. 

Rivera's relationship with Redskins fans is just beginning, but if the crowd in Charlotte is any indication, it should be a fun ride. Winning helps too, and for most of his nine seasons in Carolina the Panthers won. That will build goodwill with any fan base, and in Washington, fans are desperate for some playoff football. 

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