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Case Keenum working to translate his Spanish to Portuguese

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Case Keenum working to translate his Spanish to Portuguese

For some quarterbacks entering their first year with a new team, the task of learning a new offensive system can be a little overwhelming. For Case Keenum, it has become a common occurrence.

“I’ve changed offenses pretty consistently that last four or five years," Keenum said on Tuesday at Redskins OTAs.

Indeed, his journey through new schemes has been a constant throughout his NFL career. Keenum has started 54 games for four different NFL franchises since 2012, getting as far as the NFC Championship Game with the Vikings in 2017. Entering his eighth season as a professional passer, Keenum said he thinks he's learned about "seven or eight" new offenses in that time. 

Though having to learn a new system comes with its headaches and more than a fair share of hard work, his recent moves around the league have helped him slow down what can be a hectic portion of his offseason routine. On his third new team in three years, Keenum has seen a lot of different plays, styles and techniques. Because of it, he's learned how to go about integrating himself into a new system.

“I view new offenses, kind of like learning new languages," Keenum said. "Certain offenses, it’s English to Chinese. Certain offenses is like Portuguese to Spanish."

Keenum sees the Redskins offense as Portuguese, and he's already had some experience in Spanish. Therefore, learning the new system doesn't necessarily mean starting from scratch.

It becomes more about finding the small differences between the two offenses. Such as one minor mispronunciation can make all the difference between a compliment and an insult, a small tweak in a play that seems similar can turn a touchdown into an interception. 

So far, Keenum seems to be enjoying his lessons in Portuguese.

“I love this system, I really do," Keenum said. "I think Jay’s done a great job putting it together. Kev [O'Connell], Cav [Matt Cavanaugh], Tim [Rattay] all those guys. It’s really well presented and the communication is really good. I think I can thrive in it.”

Part of the reason Keenum's first experiences in the Washington scheme have been positive is due to his growing rapport with the players on the other end of his passes.

Besides receiver Brian Quick, who Keenum spent some time with during his years playing with the then-St. Louis Rams, the Redskins receiving core is an unfamiliar one to the veteran quarterback. Finally able to get some work in with them in the past couple weeks, he likes what he sees.

“I think we got a lot of guys to throw the ball too that I’m really excited about," Keenum said. “Trey Quinn is going to be really special. I love what I’ve seen out of Josh [Doctson]...Vernon [Davis], obviously I’ve never played with a tight end that can do what he does on the football field. There’s a lot of guys.”

While the quarterback may be dealing with a new language and a new group of teammates, there is another aspect of his arrival in Washington that brings back a familiar feeling: competition. 

Though his 2018 season in Denver saw him viewed as the main guy the moment he was signed by the Broncos, Keenum has had to compete to earn his time as a starter at most of his stops in the NFL. This year is much of the same. The Redskins may have traded from him in the offseason, but his position as No. 1 on the depth chart is far from guaranteed.

Yet, that isn't a problem for him. Keenum is happy to compete, it's something that he wants to do. Even during his time in Denver the competition was still there, it was just within.

“I compete against myself extremely hard every day, that’s how I’ve treated it since I was a freshman in college, before that," Keenum said. "Competition is no new thing to me, I compete every day against myself.”

The following months will feature a great deal of competition for Keenum. Obviously, Dwayne Haskins is working to be the starter as well, and Colt McCoy will challenge once he's fully recovered from last season's injury. A quarterback battle has begun in Washington and will only grow as training camp approaches.

Keenum knows that, but he's also making sure he doesn't lose track of his main focus.

“My job is to get ready to play and get ready to be the quarterback of the Redskins when my name is called," Keenum said.

With mandatory minicamp over and OTAs coming to a close, Keenum will have six weeks or so to get his body right and continue to study his new language before training camp begins. Even though he admits he doesn't actually know any Portuguese, Keenum does consider himself a pro at learning new offenses at this point in his career.

However, that doesn't mean it's something that comes easily.

There’s no Rosetta Stone for the West Coast offense,” he joked. 


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Jamison Crowder's performance vs. Washington reminded the Redskins just exactly what they're missing

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Jamison Crowder's performance vs. Washington reminded the Redskins just exactly what they're missing

FEDEX FIELD -- There's an age-old saying, 'there's no place like home.'

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder called FedEx Field home for four seasons but departed this past offseason for New York on a lucrative three-year, $28.5 million deal. At the time, letting Crowder walk did not seem like a big deal for Washington. His final season with the Burgundy and Gold was injury-shortened and unproductive, and the price tag seemed a little steep for a slot receiver.

On Sunday, Crowder returned to Washington for the first time as a visitor, and he certainly felt right back at home. The 26-year-old receiver finished with five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in the Jets' 34-17 victory over Washington, a game that was not really close at all.

"It means a lot. Great team win," Crowder said on the victory. "Just to come back here to FedEx [Field] against the Redskins, for me, it's a great feeling. I'm just glad to be winning."

In his first year sporting green and white instead of burgundy and gold, the slot receiver has been a valuable asset for second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. Through 10 games, Crowder has recorded 53 receptions for 562 yards and three touchdowns with a 73.8 percent catch rate. He's on pace for 85 catches and just under 900 yards on the season, both of which would be career highs. 

"Crowder did a great job of making catches when [he] needed to," Jets running back Le'Veon Bell said. 

Meanwhile, his former team has struggled mightily on offense, especially over the last month of the season. Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins' 45-yard touchdown pass to Derrius Guice snapped a 16 quarter touchdown-less streak Washington had been on. That's four full games without a touchdown. The streak was the longest of such in nearly two decades.

Crowder, who played in a relatively high-scoring offense during his time in Washington, was asked whether he was surprised about the team's struggles. 

"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it much," Crowder said. "I think they have a really good ball team over there across the board. Especially on defense, they have a lot of guys that are really good. Offensively, they got a lot of guys that make plays, young guys that make plays. I haven't really thought about what's going on with them."

With Crowder's departure, the Redskins expected second-year receiver Trey Quinn to fill the void. Quinn has been unproductive and disappointing. He finished Sunday's contest with just two catches for nine yards, an unacceptable performance from someone who Washington counted on to make a leap in 2019. In 10 games, Quinn has a total of 198 receiving yards, with no more than 36 yards in any contest. 

Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin's emergence as the Redskins No. 1 wide receiver has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise lost season for Washington, but even his production doesn't match Crowder's. 

Crowder was certainly happy to defeat his old team but downplayed having any extra juice entering the matchup.

"There wasn't any extra motivation. I just approached it as another game," Crowder said. "It was just a little different going against the guys that I played four years with. I'm familiar with a lot of guys over there. For me, that's the only thing. For my preparation, I just approached it as another game."

Crowder may have seen Sunday as just another game, but the Redskins should look at his performance and see a player they maybe should have kept.


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In a blowout, Dwayne Haskins and Derrius Guice connect for a meaningful touchdown

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In a blowout, Dwayne Haskins and Derrius Guice connect for a meaningful touchdown

Getting blown out by the New York Jets, one would think that any touchdown the Redskins would potentially score when trailing 34-3 would mean nothing. In most cases, that would be correct.

But when Dwayne Haskins connected with Derrius Guice for a 45-yard score, it was actually a very notable touchdown.

The touchdown is important for multiple reasons. One being that it is Haskins' first NFL touchdown. Making his first home start, the quarterback didn't have the performance many would have hoped for. But, he does now have one touchdown.

While it was the first for Haskins, it was also the first for Guice. The second-year running back who has missed a lot of time with injuries returned for the Week 11 battle and show the playmaking ability that has many excited to see him on the field.

Last, but definitely not least, the score put an end to the horrid touchdown-drought the Redskins had been in. Before Guice crossed the goal line, Washington hadn't scored in 16 quarters. Yes, that is the equivalent to four games.

But alas, the Redskins have a touchdown and so do Haskins and Guice. Sunday was a disappointing day, but at least there was this moment.