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At Rookie Minicamp, Dwayne Haskins Gets His First Chance To Run An NFL Offense


Dwayne Haskins understands the vital importance of watching film. He always has. At Ohio State, this obsessive habit simplified the process of recognizing coverages and alignments. The Redskins' first-round pick then adjusted accordingly, changing pass protections and making the necessary reads to maximize the possibility of success.

The results: 50 touchdowns -- compared to eight interceptions -- and nearly 5,000 passing yards with a 70-percent completion rate in 2018. It was a Heisman Trophy-worthy campaign (he ended up finishing third) and one that enticed Washington to select him 15th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

"I just don't like defenses," Haskins told reporters Saturday when asked what he likes about film study. "So I want to be able to be the most prepared to rip them apart."

Following a record-breaking season at Ohio State, Haskins is now enrolled in his toughest football course yet: directing an NFL offense. And rookie minicamp this past weekend served as a syllabus week of sorts. After weeks of anticipation, Haskins began familiarizing himself with the team's material and delving into overarching offensive principles; all while learning what the Redskins will expect from him down the road.

"It's challenging. You want it to be challenging," Haskins said. "The biggest thing is applying the meetings to the field. We've put in 50 plays so far, so there's a lot of stuff going into it. It's just fun to be able to throw the ball around again, and you're going to make mistakes, but the biggest thing is rebounding from them. I'm just looking forward to getting better and putting the work in, pushing the guys around me, and just hopefully I can contribute this year."

Haskins' first lesson, held on the practice field of Redskins Park on Friday afternoon, covered the basics. He practiced calling plays in the huddle, which was a rare occurrence in the Buckeyes' fast-paced system. At the line of scrimmage, he orchestrated the rest of the offense while working on his NFL cadence. The focus then shifted to his footwork as he delivered hand-offs, dropped back to throw and worked through his progressions.

After all that, Haskins could finally showcase the passing abilities that made him one of the draft's top quarterback prospects.

"When he has a clean pocket and his feet are there, he's just a big, solid, fundamentally sound guy man," head coach Jay Gruden said during his press conference following Saturday's practice. "He's just a big presence, and the ball just jumps off his hand. But he also has the ability to speed it up, and he has great touch as well for some of the short balls."

Haskins spent rookie minicamp absorbing as much new information as possible. Outside of practice and meetings, he studied the playbook while watching "The Lion King" on Friday night, according to his Twitter page. Haskins also said he played "Madden" with wide receiver Terry McLaurin -- the team's third round pick and Haskins' teammate at Ohio State -- to further familiarize himself with the Redskins' offense.

Haskins has benefited from the relationship between Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, who coached together with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and have "similar-type concepts" offensively. It's part of the reason the Redskins were attracted to Haskins in the first place, Gruden said.

Still, Haskins has encountered a litany of differences between college and the pros, with the biggest adjustment involving the complexity of terminology.

"In college you have like four or five signals and that's it. In the West Coast play, you have like 15 words and it's a lot, it's different, but it's pretty cool," Haskins said. "It makes it easier for the guys around me because I tag everything. Just me taking responsibility of learning what every play is and how every play is different and how different tags are for different things. And it doesn't happen overnight, but I'm looking to put the work in."

Haskins' patient approach to the infant stages of his NFL career stems from his high school and college days. He was considered a late bloomer at Bullis School in Potomac, Md. -- he did not receive a scholarship offer until after his junior year -- and then spent his first two seasons at Ohio State as a redshirt and a backup, respectively, before announcing himself on the national landscape. While frustrating at times, Haskins said these experiences keyed his development and readied him once his time came. Now he'll have the opportunity to learn from veteran quarterbacks Case Keenum and Colt McCoy in Washington.

As for his physical attributes, Haskins seems to have passed his first test, showing Gruden the arm strength and accuracy the Redskins believe make him their potential quarterback of the future.

"Obviously you want to teach him some things here and there from an above-the-neck-standpoint, but I just wanted to see him throw it, and that was the most impressive thing," Gruden said at the 14th Annual Leukemia Golf Classic on Monday. "That's why we drafted him to throw it. We'll teach him all of the other stuff. He has plenty of time to learn, which he will, but very impressive throwing the rock."

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