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Case Keenum does not envision a return to the Redskins in 2020

Case Keenum does not envision a return to the Redskins in 2020

Statistically, veteran quarterback Case Keenum was the most productive signal-caller for the Redskins a season ago.

But after Keenum was forced to miss the Redskins Week 9 contest against the Bills due to injury, rookie Dwayne Haskins was inserted into the starting lineup. While the first-round pick had his ups and downs as a rookie, Haskins finished the 2019 season on a high note, flashing his potential as to why the Redskins selected him No. 15 overall the previous April.

Keenum, who described himself as a realist, still believes he's capable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. Understanding a scenario of that happening with the Redskins is unlikely next season, Keenum is not too optimistic about a return to Washington.

"I have no idea. I would say probably not," Keenum said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Orlando about returning to Washington. "I can't tell the future though."

Keenum understands the direction the young Redskins roster is headed. Washington is hoping to build off a promising young core that includes Haskins, as well as young offensive weapons Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims and Derrius Guice.

The soon-to-be 32-year-old quarterback was impressed with the progress that Haskins made towards the end of the 2019 season.

"I think Dwayne did an incredible job towards the end of the season, adapting and getting a lot better," Keenum said. "I think it's his team moving forward."

However, Keenum believes he can still play football and play the quarterback position at a high level.

So if he has the opportunity to be a starter, or at least compete for the starting job, somewhere else, the veteran will certainly take that chance.

"I feel like I played really good football. I know the wins and losses didn't show it." Keenum said on his performance last season. "I'd love another shot to play in this league. So if there's another chance, another opportunity out there, I'm not sure where that might be, I don't take these things lightly. I'm going to go compete and make myself better this offseason and hopefully and be ready for whatever team might come calling."

During Ron Rivera's introductory press conference on Jan. 2, the new Redskins head coach was said he believed Haskins could be a "franchise-style quarterback." But he was also not overly committed to handing the starting job to Haskins right away. In fact, Rivera mentioned that some veterans would get the chance to compete for the job, with Keenum potentially being one of them. 

"I also think there's a couple of good veteran quarterbacks that are obviously going to get some opportunities to play as well," Rivera said. "We won't know until we get ready to open up in September. Until then, everything's just a process. We can't get ahead of it."

While Keenum would appreciate the opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback position in Washington, he didn't have his hopes too high when asked about that possibly being an option.

"If that's a possibility, and that's how it's going to be, I'm all for competition. I love it," Keenum said. "But I understand. I'm also a realist. I know what's going on. It's a tough situation, but I'm excited wherever I get an opportunity to compete."

Keenum referred to his year in Minnesota as an example of how nothing is ever guaranteed in the NFL. Things change fast.

"I came in as a third-, second-string at best [in Minnesota] and ended up starting 14, 15, 16, 17 games and going to the NFC Championship," he said. "Nobody could have predicted that when Sam Bradford went down Week 1."

During his eight-year NFL career, Keenum has spent time with seven different organizations. Change is nothing new for the veteran.

"It's funny, this league, there's so much talent, so many great coaches that get let go every year," Keenum said. "It's about having the right combination, the right people in the right place at the right time. I hope Ron does a great job bringing it all together [in Washington]."

In Rivera's introductory press conference, he was asked why his regime in Washington will be different than the unsuccessful ones before him. The head coach responded with: "I believe in me, and I'll bet on me."

Whether Keenum is with the Redskins or not in 2020, it sounds like the quarterback has already adopted that mindset from Rivera.

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Three non-Derrius Guice items Ron Rivera discussed Monday that you should know about

Three non-Derrius Guice items Ron Rivera discussed Monday that you should know about

Ron Rivera's Monday presser with the media was dominated by questions regarding Derrius Guice.

However, the coach did touch on other key topics that are also worth reporting on now that the ex-Washington running back's situation has largely been addressed.

So, here are three non-Guice related things Rivera discussed on Zoom, all of which fans should know about.

1) We may be discounting someone in the backfield

How does Guice's dismissal impact Bryce Love and Antonio Gibson? Is Adrian Peterson going to lead the offense in rushing for a third year in a row?

Those are the kinds of conversations that are happening about the running back depth chart now that Guice is no longer a part of it, but Rivera wants one more name to be included.

"Don’t forget Peyton Barber," he said, bringing up the free agent signing unprompted. 

Barber's career stats — 3.6 yards per carry in 63 games — are uninspiring on their own and have caused most to ignore him even after Guice's departure.

Rivera, however, made the move to acquire Barber in March at a time when the group seemed completely set and is making a point to mention him to reporters as well. If the franchise's main decision maker cares that much about the veteran, perhaps others should as well.

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2) The team is really enticed by Reuben Foster

Rivera was fairly asked on Monday why Foster has a place on Washington's roster but Guice doesn't, and you can find his answer here

As for how much Foster can contribute football-wise in 2020 after coming off the PUP list, Rivera sounded quite optimistic.

"He can be a very big asset, just because of his ability to make plays, his explosiveness as a football player," he said.

Rivera then compared Foster's comeback to that of Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys' impressive linebacker. Smith suffered an injury in college that was very similar to the one Foster experienced last May, but Smith has since worked himself into shape and is celebrating his first Pro Bowl selection.

Rivera believes his defender can follow that kind of path.

"That’s what we’re hoping for, is an opportunity for Reuben to get back on the field and prove that he’s back," he said.

3) Rivera's emphasizing practice speed

The media will head out to Ashburn and watch training camp for the first time this Thursday. So, one member asked Rivera what he would like to most stand out to outsiders who do attend his team's upcoming camp sessions.

He didn't need to think long for a response.

“The biggest thing is I want you to see tempo," Rivera said. "I want [reporters] to be able to say, ‘Man, they practice fast. Man, they move from one drill to the other.’ To me, that’s one of the things that you have to do, is play with up-tempo. The only way to do that is practice with an up-tempo. You’ve got to be able to understand how things have to be done."

As Rivera explained, that speed is even more critical this year without the preseason. In fact, the coach actually wants someone to let him know if the energy doesn't seem to be up where it should be.

"We’ve got to practice at an up-tempo every opportunity we get, and that’s what I hope [reporters] see," Rivera said. "If [they] don’t, let me know because that’s something we need to get corrected."

Here's an advanced "good luck" to the first person who actually tries to tell Rivera how to run his workouts. You're going to need it.

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Dwayne Haskins believes he gives Washington best chance to win, even if Alex Smith can play

Dwayne Haskins believes he gives Washington best chance to win, even if Alex Smith can play

While many expect Dwayne Haskins to be Washington's quarterback in Week 1, head coach Ron Rivera has yet to formally name a starting quarterback and has preached "pure competition" between Haskins and Kyle Allen.

The battle for the job has the potential to take an interesting twist in the coming weeks if veteran Alex Smith is able to return from the active/PUP list. In a media session with local reporters on Monday, Rivera said Smith is "going to be in the throes of this competition" if he's able to return.

However, even if Smith is healthy enough to compete for the starting job, Haskins believes he's the best man for the job. 

"All respect for everyone in that room, but I feel like I give us the best opportunity," Haskins told Julie Donaldson, Washington's Senior VP of Media and Content. "I look forward to showing it."

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Haskins had his growing pains as a rookie but really started to show flashes of his potential towards the end of the season before an ankle injury prematurely ended his first season as a pro. Over his final six quarters, Haskins finished with 394 passing yards on a 72 percent completion rate with four touchdowns and zero turnovers. 

Since Rivera took over as head coach in January, he's challenged Haskins to take command of the job, and the quarterback has responded. Haskins has dropped close to 20 pounds this offseason and said he is in the best shape of his life. He's spent the bulk of his offseason training and learning from numerous NFL stars, most notably Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton and Odell Beckham Jr.

Although Rivera has yet to name Haskins the starter, he's taken notice of the 23-year-old's progress and has publicly praised him for it. In a media session last week, several comments the head coach made sounded as if he was ready to move in the direction with Haskins as QB1.

While Haskins and Smith may be directly competing with one another, the two have a strong relationship.

Haskins has said multiple times how much of a help Smith was to him as a rookie. On Monday, Haskins said he looks at Smith as a "mentor" to him.

"He's a great teammate," Haskins said. "Somebody in the meeting room that we look for answers and questions and everything he's been through in his long tenure as a professional quarterback in the NFL. He's someone I kind of look to as a mentor in that sense."

RELATED: MORGAN MOSES IS IMPRESSED WITH DWAYNE HASKINS 'KNOWING HE'S GOING TO BE NO. 1 QB'

Smith's journey is remarkable, and the fact that he's even close to playing after suffering the gruesome leg injury he had in November 2018 is already impressive enough within itself. And of the three quarterbacks, Smith is by far the most proven and experienced.

But Washington is currently in a rebuild, and Rivera has said multiple times that the 2020 season will be crucial in determining who he sees as core players on his roster. So, starting a 35-year-old Smith over Haskins, a second-year player who the team invested a first-round pick in just one year ago, wouldn't make much sense.

Yet, if Smith does end up being healthy enough to compete for the job, Haskins is ready to embrace the challenge.

"I'm extremely happy and excited for Alex. Having watched him train last year and him just getting into the position to try and play this year...I can tell how much work he's put in," Haskins said. "I'm excited for him. Hopefully he gets back to where he needs to be, and I look forward to competing with him and everything of that nature."

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