Dwayne Haskins has had quite the offseason. Despite the pandemic-altered summer months, the rising second-year passer has spent the bulk of his time since March training with numerous stars across the NFL.
Earlier this month, Haskins and his camp traveled to Los Angeles to work out with two Pro Bowl quarterbacks: Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson. By working out with those two passers, Haskins had the chance to learn from two proven quarterbacks: Newton won league MVP in 2015, while Watson remains one of the best young signal-callers in the game.
When Washington QB coach Ken Zampese found out that Haskins was working out with Newton, he was thrilled. However, Zampese quickly fired off a text message to the 23-year-old with a simple request.
"I saw that picture and I told [Haskins] to ask [Newton] anything he wants to know about the offense," Zampese said in a Zoom call with local media Thursday.
There is plenty that Haskins can learn from Newton. The Patriots passer (wow, that still sounds weird) had spent the entirety of his career up to this point under new Washington head coach Ron Rivera. Additionally, Newton directly worked with current Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who was the QB coach in Carolina, the past two seasons.
So, if there's anyone that knows what Turner and Rivera are trying to accomplish on offense, it's Newton.
"[Haskins] said he was already on it. He was really excited about the response," Zampese said. "I know he was, and I am glad he was working out with Cam."
As Haskins enters his second season in the NFL, he's also been tasked with learning his second offensive system. If you include his time at Ohio State, this is the third year in a row that he's played in a different offensive scheme.
When Haskins arrived in Washington as a rookie, much of his reported struggles early on had to do with the mental aspect of the position, not his physical talent. Learning the playbook and the terminology wasn't exactly easy for the passer (to be fair, many rookies struggle with this every year).
This is where Newton comes into play. Haskins enters training camp in a "competition" with Kyle Allen for Washington's starting role. Haskins is undoubtedly the more gifted passer. But where Allen has a slight advantage over Haskins is he's already familiar with the offense Turner wants to run, having played under him in Carolina last season.
So, while Haskins was in LA learning from Newton on the field, Zampese also hopes that Cam was able to pass along some tips about learning that terminology and language of Turner's offense.
"I loved it when he was working with Cam because Cam has had to speak this language for years," Zampese said. "Hopefully there was some transfer of shortcuts or different things. Like I know it is like this, but it is really like this. Hopefully there have been some shortcuts."
When asked what he would like to see the most out of Haskins during camp, Zampese once again emphasized the mental aspect of the position.
"The memorization of the playbook, speaking of the language fluently is certainly like learning a foreign language and being able to study the reads and know them inside and out," Zampese said. "That is the part that is the toughest. That is the newest. It is easy to drop back five steps and throw to an out route, everybody does that in every offense. Those physical things I think will be easier to pick up."
Real, padded practices still don't begin for a couple of weeks, but the QB coach is already looking forward to seeing the progress Haskins has made with the mental part of playing quarterback in the NFL.
"I can't wait to hear him speak and fix things and see those wheels turning faster and faster when we get out there," Zampese said.
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