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Dwayne Haskins has a mural of a shared moment with Tom Brady in his home

Dwayne Haskins has a mural of a shared moment with Tom Brady in his home

Turning 23 on Sunday, Dwayne Haskins probably received some pretty good birthday gifts. However, if anyone was thinking of getting him a mural featuring him and Tom Brady, they were too late.

That is because Haskins already has that image painted on a wall in his house. He quote tweeted a picture of the mural shared on the Sunday Night Football official account on Sunday, a painting of a picture of Haskins and Brady taken after Washington's 2019 matchup with the Patriots. He made the moment into a mural for his home so that he could remember it forever. 

Though Haskins did not play a snap in the game and the Redskins lost 33-7, the chance to meet and talk with Brady was clearly a big opportunity for the then-rookie. When Brady took over as New England's starting quarterback in 2001, Haskins was just four years old. So, during his entire path to the NFL, Haskins has been able to watch the veteran quarterback dominate and become arguably the best to ever play the position.

Now, Haskins has a special way to remember and cherish that moment. The mural can also act as motivation as Haskins, like every other quarterback to take the field, hopes to someday make an impact on the game the way Brady did.

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Entering his age-23 season as the Redskins presumed starter, Haskins is not far off from where Brady was at the same time in his career. In fact, he is a little ahead. At 23, Brady was a rookie who would not get an opportunity to start until the following year.

Almost 20 years later, he's the most successful quarterback in NFL history. Haskins will get to begin his "Jordan Year" as the team's starter with several starts already under his belt. It certainly doesn't mean that Haskins will ever do what Brady did, but at this point in his career, he's not far off from where other great quarterbacks were. There was no way to tell at 23 what most of these quarterbacks would become, including Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. 

For now, the piece of art in Haskins' house can be looked at as the moment a young passer in the league had the chance to meet one of the greatest. Redskins fans hope that down the line the painting captured a potential passing of the torch from Brady to one of the NFL's next generation of quarterbacks.

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Ron Rivera might not say it outright but it sounds like Washington is Dwayne Haskins' team

Ron Rivera might not say it outright but it sounds like Washington is Dwayne Haskins' team

Ron Rivera refuses to name Dwayne Haskins the starting quarterback for the Washington Football Team, but listening to the coach's comments about the second-year passer, it sure sounds like it's Haskins job. 

"He’s done a great job of studying, preparing and getting himself ready for this. He’s been great," Rivera said Tuesday morning. "He’s been on the field, doing the things we’ve asked of him. He’s done the extra stuff that he and I talked about in the offseason. He’s done the things that, I think, puts him right there where he needs to be at this junction of where we are in our training, having only been able to do zoom and now only having four days of work on the field."

Much has been made about veteran QB Alex Smith's return from injury. 

Smith's story has been incredible, working his way back from a compound fracture in his leg and 17 surgeries as his body was ravaged by infection. Now Smith is able to work out with trainers at the Washington practice facilities for multiple days without setbacks. It's a remarkable story. 

But there are still major hurdles for Smith to get back on the field, not the least of which is clearing a football physical from the Washington doctors.

"For him, it’s really just a matter of, can he do the movements he needs to do?" Rivera said. "Can he protect himself when he’s on the field more so than anything else?"

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There's another important element to point out and that's the advantage - real or perceived - that Kyle Allen has over Haskins.

Allen started nine games for Rivera and new Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner last season in Carolina, and found some success. The Panthers won Allen's first four starts, and in those games, he threw no interceptions. Conversely, Carolina lost the last six games Allen started and he threw 11 picks in those contests. 

RELATED: RIVERA PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY ALEX SMITH IN CAMP

Earlier this offseason Rivera suggested that Allen could have a "leg up" on Haskins based on knowledge of Turner's system. Asked on Tuesday if Haskins still trailed in that department, Rivera did not seem concerned. 

"I don’t think Dwayne is very far behind, I really don’t."

Rivera wants open competition across his football team. No player gets named starter, rather that player earns the job. Sure sounds like Haskins is doing just that when it comes to the starting quarterback spot. 

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With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

Positive reports about Alex Smith's early training camp performance came out over the weekend, and on a Tuesday morning Zoom call with the media, Ron Rivera echoed those reviews.

"He's looked good, he really has," the head coach said. "I'll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It's been exciting to watch his progression."

According to Rivera, Smith has been working off to the side with Washington Football Team trainers at the Ashburn facility and is mirroring what Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen are doing, too. Coordinator Scott Turner and QBs coach Ken Zampese are apparently involving Smith as much as they can, and Smith is looking "very fluid" so far.

"It's a tribute to who he is, it's a tribute to his trainers and his doctors who have helped him get where he is today," Rivera said.

That all, of course, is wildly encouraging. The fact that the 36-year-old is in a place where he can check off those boxes and do those activities is astounding. That can't be pointed out enough, either.

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Yet it's also fair to note just how different mimicking a starting signal caller and actually serving as the starting signal caller are. So, is there any real chance of Smith transitioning from that first phase to the second before the season? 

With what he's seen from the veteran so far, Rivera certainly believes there is.

"I can envision it," he said. "The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do, that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he'll be part of the conversation most definitely. He did some really good things last week. He went through all four workout days, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day usually tells.

"We'll see how he is this week and we'll go from there."

As Smith continues to rehab and try to make his way off PUP, the challenges are solely physical. Rivera is not worried at all about the veteran having to adjust to a new scheme or dealing with any other mental task; instead, the primary concern is ensuring that Smith can handle the contact that'll come if he makes it back into live action.

"I believe he already knows probably 75-percent of our playbook," Rivera said. "So for him, it's really just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he's on the field?"

It feels like every time Smith is brought up, he's taken another step. The next one, however — going from the PUP list to the huddle — is particularly daunting.

But at this point, it's gotten pretty difficult to imagine anything being particularly daunting for Alex Smith. So don't be that floored if he makes it happen. Rivera clearly won't be. 

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