When Ron Rivera became the new coach of the Washington Football Team, he resisted anointing quarterback Dwayne Haskins as the starter. If Rivera was trying to get Haskins’ attention, mission accomplished.
“I’ve been around Dwayne a long time, and not that he hasn’t been working hard previously, but it’s just a different type of attentiveness, a different type of attention to detail that he’s approached this whole offseason since day one all the way dating back to the end of the season,” receiver Terry McLaurin told reporters on Thursday. “I feel like he’s not going to give himself too much credit, he knows that he’s got to put that product on the field now that we’re practicing once we starting going against the defense into the games. But I feel like he’s taken the right necessary steps, to be honest, with his physical, his mental. I’m excited to see what he does in this offense, an offense that I feel like suits his skillset really well. I hope he just takes it day by day, continues to learn and hopefully he’ll be where we all need him to be.”
McLaurin, who played with Haskins at Ohio State, said that the quarterback’s focus has him putting in more time at work, too.
“He’s dropped some weight and stuff like that,” McLaurin said. “But the growth I’ve seen from him is mental focus. He’s focusing more. He’s in the building a lot earlier, more than he used to be. I just see his mental growth more than anything.”
That mental growth extended to efforts in the offseason by the quarterback to get the receivers together for workouts.
“That really helps the chemistry,” McLaurin said. “I feel like that really helped us come in on a good start running routes. . . . That connection between wide receiver and quarterback was there. I feel like between me and Dwayne, me and Steven [Sims] and a lot of other guys as well, there were a lot of guys that got work in with him during the offseason as well. That’s a credit to him for getting us all together and I feel like that really helped us get off on the right foot.”
Haskins definitely has gotten off on the right foot in his second season, which could help him fend off an unlikely challenge from Alex Smith for the top spot on the depth chart. If Haskins does, he can at least partially credit his new head coach for giving him a well-timed wakeup call in January.