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Josh Doctson looks good to go, new starters at LB and other practice notes

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Josh Doctson looks good to go, new starters at LB and other practice notes

Josh Doctson looked like a first-round pick in Richmond, at least, until a hamstring injury knocked him off the Richmond practice fields for a few days. On Thursday, back in Ashburn, Doctson again showed his considerable talents.

Taking the field for 11v11 drills for the first time since he injured his hamstring. Doctson made three catches from QB Kirk Cousins. He showed the same fluidity and smoothness in his routes that he flahes in Richmond. 

Leaving the field, Doctson said he felt good. After practice, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said Doctson "looked good." Gruden added the plan is to see how Doctson looks in warmups before the Packers game Saturday (6:30, CSN) night and then the team will decide if the second year wideout will play or not. 

Other notes and observations:

  • In season, the media gets to watch very little of NFL practices, especially in the time leading up to a game. Since Thursday's practice was still technically a training camp session, reporters got to stay and watch as the Redskins prepared for the Packers by running their scout team offense and defense. Cousins and the starting Redskins offense went up against the faux-Packers squad, complete with Dashaun Phillips dressed in a yellow penny playing the role of Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. It was very interesting to watch, and shows that the Redskins will be better prepared for Green Bay this week than they were for Baltimore last week. 
  • Thursday's practice also went much shorter than many of the recent sessions, another sign that the Redskins were treating the Packers game like a normal week. The team skipped the bulk of individual drills, 7v7 and cut down on special teams work. 
  • Deshazor Everett missed the practice session with a personal issue, per Gruden. The coach added that Everett is "okay."
  • Working in drills near the goal line - against the scout team - Cousins looked dialed in. He fired touchdowns to Vernon Davis and Terrelle Pryor.
  • Kendall Fuller has locked up the nickel cornerback role. It also looks like the four down linemen in nickel will start with Jon Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. There will be plenty of changes and rotations among that group though.
  • Gruden announced after practice that Zach Brown and Mason Foster will start at the linebacker spots vs Green Bay. The team showed that duo in drills, which meant Will Compton got pushed to the second team. When that group was on the field, rookie Montae Nicholson tipped a pass at the goal line. Compton came up with it for the INT. 

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Redskins technically have nothing left to play for, but Dwayne Haskins sure does

Redskins technically have nothing left to play for, but Dwayne Haskins sure does

In five starts as a rookie, Dwayne Haskins has led the Redskins to two wins, displayed plenty of toughness and made a handful of throws that hint at his immense talent.

Even considering those factors, though, Haskins hasn't done enough to convince the franchise that he should absolutely, without a doubt, 110-percent be their starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2020 season.

That means that, while Washington as a whole doesn't technically have anything left to play for this year — their Week 14 loss in Green Bay officially (and mercifully?) took them out of the playoff hunt — Haskins has a ton riding on the final three games on the schedule.

In all likelihood, the Burgundy and Gold will be searching for a new head coach in a few weeks. Perhaps they'll also enter the offseason with an adjusted front office. Yet, regardless of whether the latter happens, the former means that at least one major piece of the team's future won't have any direct ties to 2019's 15th overall draft pick.

You can debate whether moving on from a first-rounder after a small sample of starts is fair, but the reality in the NFL is that new coaches like to begin their tenure with QBs that they really like, and often times, that means QBs that they've drafted.

Now, as mentioned earlier, Haskins has shown off some useful traits. His arm strength will never be debated, and since taking over as the Redskins' signal caller, the rookie has also been brave in the pocket, been way more mobile than expected and made incremental improvements in areas like footwork and at-the-line audibles.

No. 7 has tools to work with, and those tools could become sharper with more time and with a new coach who wants to sharpen them. Plus, those tools very well could be put to better use with a more well-rounded roster than the one he's currently on.

But then there are his numbers, which aren't encouraging and must be considered, regardless of the talent around him. In his five starts, he's completed more than 60-percent of his passes just once and has topped 200 passing yards just once. Those are two basic benchmarks for pro passers to reach and he's just not reaching them.

So, if the Redskins finish with a 3-13 or 4-12 record and find themselves in a position where they can draft another top-notch arm, will they do so? 

That's a question that's difficult to answer as of now. Haskins' performance in Weeks 15, 16 and 17, however, will make it easier. Either he'll start delivering, thus giving the organization confidence in him, or he'll continue to be mediocre, which'll lead to a very intriguing offseason.

When the Redskins selected Haskins last April, they hoped their recent QB rotation would finally stop, and it very well still could. Yet there's also a possibility that the rotation begins again in a few months. The next 12 quarters of football will mean nothing in the standings, but everything for Haskins and the team that picked him.

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Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins played much of the Redskins Week 14 loss to the Green Bay Packers with a sprained ankle.

The rookie had a very noticeable limp and struggled to put weight on his bad leg. Haskins was clearly not at full health. Backup quarterback Case Keenum was seen warming up multiple times on the sideline, but never entered the game.

In the team's postgame press conference, interim head coach Bill Callahan said he never considered pulling Haskins from the game. Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who was teammates with Haskins at Ohio State and has known the quarterback for a while, never thought that Haskins would exit the game, either.

"I know Dwayne. I've known him for a while now," McLaurin told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "He's a tough guy, and I feel like he gives us a good chance to win games. I knew if he was out there, he was going to be good to go. He was hobbled a little bit, but he wasn't going to use that as an excuse at all. It was cool to see him fight through it. We just hope that he can get healthy for next week."

McLaurin was then asked whether he thought Haskins should have been pulled. The wideout commended his quarterback for his toughness, and believes that will go a long way in terms of earning respect from his teammates.

"I mean, I'm not a doctor, so I feel like if you feel like you can play, then you try to play. Only that person knows how bad it is," McLaurin said. "He's a tough guy. He's a guy trying to earn the respect of this team. He's a quarterback, he's young. I feel like stuff like that really puts you in a step forward to get some respect. He was noticeably hurt and he fought for us."

Haskins finished 16-for-27 for 171 yards. He connected on an incredible late touchdown pass with McLaurin to pull the Redskins within five with just over a minute remaining in the game. On the two-point conversion try, Haskins put his body on the line, diving for the goal line headfirst. He didn't convert.

The Packers recovered the Redskins ensuing onside kick attempt, the Burgundy and Gold's final hope at pulling off the upset. 

The Redskins offensive line did not help out a hobbled Haskins much either. The rookie was sacked four times in the loss and hit the turf on numerous other occasions.

Although the Redskins weren't able to pull off the upset, Haskins showed poise and toughness by fighting through a noticeable injury and giving the Redskins everything he had.

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