Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins expects to see his first NFL action tonight as his Washington Redskins visit Cleveland for their preseason opener against the Browns (7:30 p.m. Eastern time, NBC Sports Washington). It’s a return to a familiar state for Haskins, who led Ohio State to the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl win last season.
According to NBC Sports’ Caroline Brandt, the former Buckeye currently sits at third on the depth chart behind the starter Colt McCoy and the backup Case Keenum.
“All three of them have shown flashes of being really good and really productive and all three have shown flashes of, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get better,’” Washington head coach Jay Gruden said Sunday.
However, McCoy is expected to sit the preseason opener. According to Craig Hoffman of 106.7 “The Fan,” McCoy is still not 100 percent from his off-season leg surgery, but he would probably play if this were a regular-season game.
This opens the door for Keenum to play the first half and for Haskins to accilimate himself with the Browns backups and future practice squad in the second half.
“We’ll see how he does in a game,” Gruden said about the first-round pick on Tuesday. “It will be kind of cool to see him in a game. We’ll see how he does. We’ll see how he’s taken what he’s done on the practice field to see how it transitions into a real game situation. And how he handles the huddles and cadence, anticipation, accuracy — all that good stuff.
“Got to play sometime there, so now is as good a time as any,” he continued. “We’ll see how he does.”
Gruden Plans to ‘Slow Play’ Haskins as a Rookie
Haskins has all the measurables, standing 6-foot-4 and 231 pounds. His numbers back up the body, as he tossed for 4,831 yards, 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions last year for Ohio State.
Despite this production in a pass-happy scheme for the Buckeyes, Gruden is careful to rush his No. 15 pick to the field. The head coach is taking a meticulous approach to evaluating Haskins to make sure he’s ready.
“He came back from the break with an increased familiarity with the scheme and what we’re trying to accomplish with concepts we’re calling in the passing game; it has come a little more natural to him,” Gruden said to Jim Trotter of NFL.com. “But it’s still a process. Every day we might change a formation or [make] some minor tweak to a run-game concept or a pass-game concept that just doesn’t register with him like it does with the other guys because they’ve been here. That’s the tough thing for him. The more you work, the more familiar you get, but you’ve also got to be ready for the new stuff, which he’s having a little bit of trouble with. But once he hears it and sees it again, he’s fine.”
With just a 35-44-1 record entering his sixth season, Gruden may not have the luxury to slow play Haskins to the field. While he does have a contract that runs through the 2020 season, owner Dan Snyder has been known to pull the lever on head coaches in the past.
McCoy is a career backup, having last thrown for over 1,000 yards in 2014. Keenum is the more accomplished player, having recorded two straight seasons of over 3,500 yards with the Vikings and Broncos. Their combined record in starts is just 33-48.
With the pressure of job security and the lack of an established winner under center, Gruden may be forced to hasten the process with Haskins. At the very least, the preseason will be a time for development.