- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2019

LANDOVER — Before Dwayne Haskins rushed to the field Thursday, the Redskins quarterback gave a speech to his teammates in the tunnel. He then trotted out for what was not only his first start of the preseason, but his last game action until further notice.

He made it count.

Haskins looked composed and made steady plays from the pocket in Washington’s 20-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field. The 22-year-old went 10-of-17 for 104 yards and a touchdown.

Earlier in the week, the Redskins named veteran Case Keenum their starting quarterback over Haskins. Washington has been pleased with the first-rounder’s development, but felt Haskins needs further work before he’s ready to lead. Haskins, after all, was drafted 15th overall after starting just one season at Ohio State.

On Thursday, Haskins led a number of solid drives, including an impressive eight-play, 75-yard series in which the quarterback helped the Redskins march down the field in the first quarter. Haskins demonstrated a lot of what stood out as a Buckeye especially — standing poised in the pocket, making quick decisions and delivering the ball right on target.

To help set up that touchdown, Haskins found tight end J.P. Holtz for a 24-yard gain to put the Redskins in the red zone. That throw, in particular, was one of Haskins‘ best of the evening. After catching a low snap, Haskins quickly scanned the field, noticed a free blitzing safety and remained calm to find an open Holtz.

One play later, Haskins scrambled outside the pocket to lead Steven Sims to a seven-yard touchdown. Coming out of the draft, Haskins was knocked for not being able to make plays outside the pocket, but the quarterback has gradually improved upon this throughout the summer.

Haskins also did something Thursday he had rarely done in other preseason games: He was able to establish a rhythm. On the Redskins’ scoring drive, Haskins completed four straight attempts on gains of 14, 25, 24 and 7. In general, he completed seven of his first nine passes.

After the touchdown, the Redskins would fail to score again with Haskins— though the offense did the signal-caller no favors. In the second quarter, wide receiver Cam Sims, fighting for a roster spot, dropped back-to-back passes — leading to a 49-yard punt from Tress Way. Haskins also had a 21-yard strike wiped out when Geron Christian was called for holding just before halftime.

It should be noted, of course, Haskins performed well against second-and-third teamers. Both teams sat their starters and key backups.

Still, Haskins needed the reps — and in four contests, the 22-year-old played at least two quarters in each. That’s a valuable experience, especially since moving forward, the Redskins will turn to Keenum. Haskins won’t receive many reps during practice in the regular season and it will be up to continue his development in the background.

Haskins took advantage of the opportunities presented to him this preseason. Now, it’ll be up to him to do the same again with the regular season right around the corner.

Here are some other non-Haskins takeaways:

Smaller Sims steps up

Cam Sims might have not had his best night with two drops, but Steven Sims made the most of his final game. An undrafted free agent out of Kansas, the 5-foot-10 slot receiver has impressed the Redskins’ coaching staff with his ability to create separation. He did so again against the Ravens — diving to haul in Haskins‘ 7-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Steven Sims also came up big on special teams, returning a kickoff for 41 yards to give the Redskins good field position with under four minutes left in the first half. It will still be a long shot for Steven Sims to make the final 53-man roster, but he made a good case for the practice squad (assuming he clears waivers).

Outside linebacker depth in trouble

Outside linebacker Cassanova McKinzy left Thursday’s game with a concussion — which potentially has a bigger impact on the rest of the roster. McKinzy figured to be the Redskins’ fourth outside linebacker heading into Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. But if McKinzy is unavailable, will Washington suddenly keep a fifth outside linebacker, so they have four healthy players at the position in Philadelphia?

If they decide that, the Redskins could keep one less player at a different position. Ultimately McKinzy’s concussion could ultimately cost someone a job — if not him, then somebody else.

Montez Sweat plays for some reason

The night’s biggest surprise occurred when outside linebacker Montez Sweat started the game — a somewhat curious decision given the first-rounder projects to start against the Eagles. Sweat, though, played for one series and seemingly exited the game uninjured. The Redskins will gladly take that, considering it could have been a disaster otherwise.

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