Few Redskins had it easy last season — going 3-13 and experiencing a coaching change in mid-October makes for a lot of stressed players — but things seemed especially trying for Dwayne Haskins.
The 2019 first-round pick saw his name get caught up early in conversations about which decision makers wanted him and which didn't. Then, his first few appearances on the field went poorly.
It was only at the end of his rookie campaign when things started to trend up, and even then, he faced heavy scrutiny before ankle injuries sidelined him after Week 16.
All of that adversity was not lost on Terry McLaurin, a guy who knows Haskins about as well as anyone associated with the Burgundy and Gold.
"I feel like a lot was thrown at him his first year," McLaurin told the media on Thursday in a Zoom call.
Now, though, McLaurin — who's been working out with the passer for the last month or so in Virginia — believes his teammate is in a much, much better spot.
"He's having fun again," he said. "I feel like his focus is great right now. Physically, mentally, his personal life, he's cleaned some things up."
In his own Wednesday Zoom session with reporters, Haskins used similar wording, explaining how he now just wants "to be a man about my business and that's on and off the field." Well, at least to McLaurin, that newfound approach is shining through and should set Haskins up for more success in 2020.
"He's ready to prove himself right, really, and just be the leader and the quarterback that this franchise needs and deserves," the wideout said. "He knows that it's going to come with work and dedication, but he's taking the right steps."
One of those steps Haskins has taken, according to McLaurin, is setting up throwing sessions for him and some of his key targets. They all originally planned to head to Florida and get an Airbnb before the pandemic, but once they knew that wouldn't be possible, they decided to keep it local.
McLaurin values the way they've adjusted, however, and is proud of the initiative Haskins has shown in organizing the get-togethers.
"He's been hitting us up really all offseason," McLaurin said.
In hearing McLaurin discuss the ways in which Haskins seems more comfortable and in charge, it was hard not to look back to some comments the former made about the latter last November.
During a mid-week scrum in the team's Ashburn locker room, McLaurin was asked what it's like when the signal caller gets really locked in, something he witnessed often at Ohio State. McLaurin answered by comparing Haskins to an "elite shooter" who gets in a zone where "the ball's going in" no matter what kind of defense he's encountering.
Because of many factors — some Haskins-related, some not — Redskins fans never really saw No. 7 reach that kind of level in his rookie season. But with each new review of where Haskins is at now, including this latest one from McLaurin, there's growing hope that he'll begin to perform the way many think he can.
"I'm happy for how far he's come," McLaurin said.
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