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Ron Rivera loves the potential of Dwayne Haskins — but isn't promising him anything

Ron Rivera loves the potential of Dwayne Haskins — but isn't promising him anything

ASHBURN — During his introductory press conference on Thursday, Ron Rivera spoke of how discipline, teaching and a united vision with Redskins owner Dan Snyder will all go a long way in helping turn the franchise around.

All of those factors, plus many more, will be key in whether Rivera becomes the coach to finally elevate the Burgundy and Gold from their now decades-long run of mediocre at best to poor at worst football. 

Perhaps the biggest factor, however, will be the growth of Dwayne Haskins.

The first-rounder, who'll enter his second season as a pro in September as Rivera enters his first with Washington, seemed to find a real comfort level as the team's starting quarterback near the end of his rookie year. Rivera saw that progress and it gave him confidence that Haskins can one day assert himself as a top signal caller in the NFL.

"I think he can become a franchise-style quarterback," he said. "I do. It's a process, though."

A process that, in Rivera's mind, could follow the one that Cam Newton went through with the Panthers while Rivera was in charge there.

"I've been fortunate that several years ago we drafted a guy as the No. 1 pick, and we had a plan, and what we're trying to do right now is develop that plan for [Haskins'] development as we go forward."

Rivera's answer then veered into unexpected territory. 

"I also think there's a couple of good veteran quarterbacks that are obviously going to get some opportunities to play as well," the coach explained. "We won't know until we get ready to open up in September. Until then, everything's just a process. We can't get ahead of it."

Later, while on 106.7 The Fan, Rivera added that he doesn't want to anoint anyone and cares greatly about "competition." 

Considering that the veterans he is referring to are either pending free agents (Colt McCoy and Case Keenum) or still rehabbing from a major, major injury (Alex Smith), plus the fact that Haskins is a favorite of Snyder's and someone who's billed as a critical figure in the Redskins' future, it was an interesting twist from the soon-to-be 58-year-old.

Does this mean there'll be a fight for the starting spot when OTAs open up in May? Who knows, but that feels unlikely at this point. Throughout his presser, it was very obvious that Rivera's a person who really cares about players earning their place, so he possibly was just trying to establish that in his first public appearance.

Regardless, the Rivera-Haskins partnership succeeding is the easiest way for this new era to succeed. The Rivera-Newton duo thrived for the most part in Carolina, which is why the Panthers had some really strong seasons in the middle of the 2010s and Rivera picked up two Coach of the Year awards.

If Haskins can keep improving, then odds are this reboot with Rivera can actually work. And if not? Well, let's not talk about that outcome just a handful of hours into this particular reboot, OK?

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Ron Rivera doesn't anticipate Dwayne Haskins being bothered by Redskins talking to top QBs

Ron Rivera doesn't anticipate Dwayne Haskins being bothered by Redskins talking to top QBs

Ron Rivera figured he'd make headlines (like the one on this exact website). He just doesn't really think what he revealed deserved to be so newsworthy.

The comments that generated some chatter came on Wednesday, when the Redskins head coach told reporters at the Combine that the team will speak with both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.

Washington, of course, already has Dwayne Haskins on the roster and appears poised to take Chase Young second overall in the upcoming draft. But Rivera still wants to sit down with the two top passers in this year's class, and he doesn't really see what's wrong with that.

"I just think it's what you're supposed to do," Rivera told the Redskins Talk podcast on Thursday in Indianapolis. "Of course, that's one thing that people want to jump on and sink their teeth into and create stuff. All we're doing is our due diligence. If we don't look at those guys and something crazy happened, then we'd sit there and look silly."

Burrow is the overwhelming favorite to be selected by the Bengals to kick off April's event, but it makes sense for the Redskins to familiarize themselves with him just in case something wacky happens (it is the Bengals, guys). 

Tagovailoa, meanwhile, has been getting positive reports on his health, which is really the only thing to doubt about the polished product from Alabama. While Burrow currently seems like a complete longshot to end up with the Burgundy and Gold, Tagovailoa does not.

Still, Rivera maintained that the Redskins are just completing their research.

"We're going to cover all our bases and just see what happens," he said. "Everybody wants to know what we're going to do. We can't tell you what we're going to do because we don't know what's going to happen in front of us."

Now, is Rivera worried at all about how Haskins will take these meetings? His rookie year was rife with stories that the 2019 coaching staff didn't want him, after all, so isn't it risky to possibly restart those stories again in 2020? 

Short answer? Nope. Long answer? Here it is.

"I think Dwayne is smart enough to understand," the head man said. "I really do. It's been a neat development of a relationship right now between he and I. I think the one thing that I really do appreciate is his hard work already. And I think that's what everybody needs, to just take a step back and understand that all we're doing is our due diligence."

Rivera indicated that Burrow and Tagovailoa could very well visit the Redskins at their facility later this offseason, too, so this talk of QB drama may pop up again shortly. It doesn't feel like drama to him, though.

To him, and hopefully to Haskins, this is all a part of having the No. 2 pick in the draft, a spot that gives Washington a lot of options.

"I think if this is something that's bothering him, he'll say it," Rivera finished. "But he's a mature, young man who's just growing in his role. I just think that everybody needs to just relax and let us go through our process."

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Arizona State punter Michael Turk dominates the bench press at NFL Combine

Arizona State punter Michael Turk dominates the bench press at NFL Combine

As far as reputations go in the NFL, punters are not generally known as the tough, strong guys on the team.

Arizona State punter Michael Turk is working to change that.

At the NFL Combine on Thursday, Turk stepped up to the bench press with 225 pounds on the bar waiting for him. What did he do? Just casually ripped off 25 reps.

Yes, you are seeing that correctly. A punter just put up 25 reps on the bench press. That number is impressive as is, for anyone of any position. However, let's put it in context to show just how strong Turk is.

Jadaveon Clowney, Chandler Jones and Rob Gronkowski are all known as some of the strongest humans to ever hit the football field. Their bench reps? 21, 22 and 23, respectively. Michael Turk, the punter, out-did them

Turk will need his legs to impress teams and scouts as he looks to head to the NFL, but he clearly has plenty of power in the upper body as well. If whatever team he lands on wants to run a fake punt, defenders won't have an easy time taking him down.

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