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'He's having fun again': Terry McLaurin loves what he's seeing out of Dwayne Haskins

'He's having fun again': Terry McLaurin loves what he's seeing out of Dwayne Haskins

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."

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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.

RELATED: WHAT HASKINS THOUGHT ABOUT WORKING OUT WITH ANTONIO BROWN

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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Three takeaways from Matt Ioannidis' media session, including his belief in the D-line

Three takeaways from Matt Ioannidis' media session, including his belief in the D-line

Matt Ioannidis virtually met with the local media on Friday. Here are three key takeaways from what was discussed with the 26-year-old.

1) He very much believes in the defensive line

When he had a chance to address reporters earlier this week, D-line coach Sam Mills III completely embraced the fact that his unit needs to take charge for the Washington Football Team.

"Let's be honest," Mills III said, "this room is supposed to lead this defense."

It turns out that Ioannidis sees eye-to-eye with his position coach.

"I share that sentiment," he said. "100-percent."

Ioannidis later described how he, Chase Young, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Tim Settle, Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan have to be the "tip of the spear" for the franchise this season. It's encouraging that they're so aware of that challenge, and it seems like that awareness could lead to tremendous success.

"This is a D-line group that I feel is highly capable," Ioannidis said.

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2) Chase Young is meshing perfectly

Asking every defender for their take on Young is becoming a tradition in these Zooms, and it was No. 98's turn on Friday to share his thoughts on the second overall pick.

"He fits in great," he said. "Right off the bat, mentally, I think he fits in the group, how we all gel together."

Over the past few years, Ioannidis has become particularly close with Allen and Payne. Together, those three are as serious and as focused as they come. Young would surely benefit from learning from those guys, and it sounds like he's well on his way to doing just that.

3) He's very conscious of the current pandemic

Ioannidis decided not to opt out of 2020 after really thinking it over and having extensive talks with his wife, but just because he's playing doesn't mean he is getting too comfortable. 

"I see it as my responsibility not to put myself in at-risk positions, whether that be places I'm in or what I'm doing in the facility," he said. "I hope that everyone shares that same thought process."

Ioannidis also gave a little insight into how the organization as a whole is approaching day-to-day operations during coronavirus.

"It's definitely been expressed in meetings and when speaking with our medical team," he said when asked about being careful.

There's so much excitement from many at the thought of the NFL commencing its season, but unless every athlete is cautious, the season won't last. Fortunately, Ioannidis isn't messing around. Hopefully he's not alone.

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Why is Ron Rivera different from previous Washington coaches? Kevin Sheehan explains

Why is Ron Rivera different from previous Washington coaches? Kevin Sheehan explains

In a recent media session, Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller discussed what head coach Ron Rivera has brought to the organization so far. Fuller, who had been in Washington during Jay Gruden's tenure in 2016 and 2017, harped on the importance of the culture being reset and the trust Rivera is instilling with every member of the franchise.

"Coach Rivera wants to trust us, and we want to trust him," Fuller said. "That's what we've got to build and that's what we're working on."

Fuller used the word "culture" numerous times, something that stuck out to Team980 radio host Kevin Sheehan. To him, the importance of fixing more than just the play on the field is something that is a crucial aspect of Rivera's job and he's glad to see that the head coach understands that.

“This is a good sign, because Rivera has come into this organization eyes wide open," Sheehan said on Washington Football Talk and Friends."He’s not naive"

“He wasn’t inheriting a team, he was inheriting an organization that needed a major culture change. We’ve heard him say it from day one and he’s gotta reshape a culture, not just a roster," Sheehan said.

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Addressing the problems that take place throughout the organization is something Sheehan believes past coaches have failed to do. Over the years, Washington has proven to be a franchise in need of a revitalization both on and off the field. Before Rivera, the people in power were not right for the job, according to Sheehan, because they were unaware that those fixes needed to be made.

"[Jay] Gruden didn’t care, he just wanted a job. I think Mike [Shanahan], and I love Mike, took big money and wanted to get back into coaching and didn't really know what he was getting into," Sheehan said. "I think Rivera knows he’s coming into an organization that has been as bad as any in sports with an owner that is really the issue. But I think he has come in eyes wide open.”

RELATED: NORMAN TAKES HIGH ROAD WHEN REFLECTING ON TIME IN WASHINGTON

With Rivera, a difference can already be seen. Since he signed on in January, the job has been anything but a smooth course. A name change and sexual harassment allegations have put Washington in the spotlight of the public eye for all the wrong reasons. While Rivera has stated he has no regrets joining the franchise, he's been asked to do a lot more than just help the team win a few more games.

Yet through it all, Rivera has helped try and solve any problem thrown his way. He was instrumental in the name change, and has vowed to fix the culture within the organization. He's not satisfied with just finding success on the field, as he wants the franchise as a whole to improve.

To Sheehan, that is exactly what the newest head coach in Washington needed to do, as it signifies a step toward consistency for the organization that runs deeper than just a record. In the end, that's what he believes Washington should be striving for. 

"Every NFL team can win and have a good season. The league is designed for that," Sheehan said. "But the best organizations have a culture that leads to sustained competitiveness and I think he recognizes that.”

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