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Remembering how Dwayne Haskins fell to the Redskins in the 2019 Draft

Remembering how Dwayne Haskins fell to the Redskins in the 2019 Draft

As the Redskins are set to play their second preseason game on Thursday evening against the Cincinnati Bengals, rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins will certainly get plenty of reps.

The Ohio State product is in the middle of a three-way competition for the starting job with veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy. For the second straight game, McCoy will not dress due to a leg injury, meaning Keenum and Haskins will get the majority of snaps.

In the first episode of NBC Sports Washington's series chronicling the rookie's Redskins' career thus far, Haskins' fall on draft night is well documented.

Entering the 2019 NFL Draft, Haskins was a consensus top 10 pick by every NFL expert, expected to be the second QB off the board behind Oklahoma's Kyler Murray. After Murray, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, went No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals and with QB-needy teams like the New York Giants in the top 10, Haskins being available when the Redskins were slated to pick at No. 15 seemed out of the question.

But the Giants decided to select Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at No. 6, growing the chip on Haskins' shoulder exponentially. Cameras captured the Bullis, Md. native half-smirk while the nearby television screen announced Jones was heading to the Big Apple. 

From that moment on, Haskins, who chose to host a draft party with his extended family in Gaithersburg, Md. rather than attend the draft in Nashville, has been out to prove that the Giants made a mistake.

As the next few picks went by, it became seemingly more likely that Haskins would still be on the board when it became Washington's turn on the clock. The Redskins were going to be able to select their franchise QB of the future without having to trade up. Something that seemed impossible earlier in the day all of a sudden became the Redskins' reality.

By the time Washington officially became on the clock, Haskins already knew where he was ending up: his hometown team. His slip in the draft was no more. Cameras captured the newest member of the Burgundy and Gold saying "I'm going to D.C." moments before he got the call.

When the 22-year-old finally got the call, Haskins held up his phone for everyone in the room to see. Before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell even announced the pick on the big-screen television, Haskins had a Redskins cap in hand, ready to proudly put on his head.

"Say it loud," Haskins said towards the screen, knowing Goodell was about to read his name.

Two days later, Haskins and fellow first-round pick Montez Sweat were formally introduced to the media and fans in Washington, D.C. in front of several historic landmarks, such as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

The video concluded with the line that summed the evening up best: "The only thing bigger [than those historical landmarks] are the expectations placed on the 22-year-old quarterback. Is Haskins a franchise quarterback? The Redskins and their fans certainly hope so."

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Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

The reboot is almost here. 

The second edition of the XFL, the infamous football league brought to you by WWE founder Vince McMahon for a memorable, combustible one-year run in 2001, begins play in February. It is a second chance for the league and for the players who’ve joined, including former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones.

Jones is the quarterback for the DC Defenders, Washington’s newest pro franchise that will play its home games at D.C. United’s Audi Field. The first game isn’t until February 8 after the NFL’s season concludes with the Super Bowl, but the organization opened its offseason camp at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House indoor facility on Thursday. The debut is just over two months away. 

“I love it. It’s pretty cool to be part of something that’s going to be a first, a historical moment of the return [of the XFL] and to be in [the D.C.] area,” Jones said. “Hopefully not just me, but this team can leave a lasting impression.”

It remains to be seen how much of an impact the Defenders will make on a crowded winter sports scene with the NHL’s Capitals and NBA’s Wizards playing and the World Series champion Nationals starting their title defense just across the street from Audi Field in April just as the XFL plays its final two games and its two playoff rounds. 

Jones, of course, led Ohio State to the national championship in 2014 when he came off the bench to replace two injured starters and led the Buckeyes to wins in the Big 10 championship game and two more in the college football playoffs. He started seven games in 2015 as a redshirt junior, but lost his job and turned pro after that season. 

Part of the appeal of the XFL is to get another shot at an NFL opportunity. Jones was drafted in the fourth round by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 and made his debut in a game late that season. He was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 and spent that year on the practice squad. Jones was with the Seattle Seahawks this summer and again cut from the practice squad in September.  

“My focus is strictly on the XFL and the DC Defenders, nothing more, nothing less,” Jones said. “I do have long-term goals and aspirations, but all of them consist of being a better player and teammate to this franchise and this organization.”

Pep Hamilton is the head coach and general manager of the Defenders. Quarterback at Howard in the early 1990s, Hamilton has spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and was most recently the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at Michigan. 

That drew a laugh from Jones, who was going back and forth with Hamilton to set up a meeting after the Defenders’ roster was announced. Hamilton still has a home in Ann Arbor so that’s where Jones, the ultimate Ohio State guy, had to go. 

“Right around the corner from the University,” Jones cracked. “So I had to drive past the Big House every freakin’ time I’d go up there. Monday through Wednesday I’d have to go past there.”

Jones laughed and said he was driving through campus one day and saw some players he recognized wearing Michigan gear. He yelled out the car window “O-H!” and sped past them cackling. Every workout Jones makes sure he has his Ohio State cleats on and Hamilton wears his Michigan shoes. 

Jones, Hamilton and the rest are all on the same team now, though, and it will take lots of repetitions throughout the offseason for players from colleges all over the country to come together and form a cohesive group. There isn’t much time. Walk throughs and team meetings began this week and continue into next week. Then come OTAs next weekend and finally a two-day minicamp on Dec. 16-17. 

“This is going to be interesting,” Jones said. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I sense a great buzz. We did a couple of appearances and some meet-and-greets with the fans and I was shocked by the response that we got and how excited people are around the city. It’s football all year round.” 

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Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

A week ago, many Redskins fans were not familiar with the name Nate Orchard. But after No. 54's exceptional performance in the Redskins' Week 13 victory over Carolina, he's turned into a feel-good story in an otherwise tough season in Washington.

As many Redskins fans know by now, Orchard was signed just days before the Week 13 game. Due to injuries to linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat, as well as Ryan Anderson being ejected, Orchard was forced to play meaningful snaps towards the end of Sunday's victory. He finished with a sack, recovering a fumble, and two tackles for loss in the win.

The former star on HBO's Hard Knocks while he was with the Cleveland Browns had worked out for 10 (!!) teams this season, but none chose to sign Orchard until Washington did last week. It makes sense why he was so emotional postgame.

So, how was Orchard spending his time before joining the Burgundy and Gold? 

Orchard, who spent most Mondays and Tuesdays this season working out for NFL teams, was installing windows in Utah a few days during the week, according to 106.7 The Fan.

"A typical week for me, I would leave for a workout Monday, get back Tuesday night," Orchard said on 106.7's Grant and Danny"Wednesday morning, I'd hit the gym early, then go and install windows from 7 [o'clock] until about 3 [o'clock], then come back to my family and rest up. [I would] repeat that Thursday and Friday."

Orchard admitted that he questioned whether he should continue to train and wait for a call, but says his wife encouraged him to stay motivated and continue to workout.

They say hard work pays off, and Orchard's whirlwind of a season thus far ended up being very rewarding for him this past Sunday.

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