- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2019

RICHMOND — Columbus, Ohio, is roughly 144 miles to Cleveland, or approximately a two-hour-and-11-minute trip. That’s just short enough to where rabid Ohio State fans will make the trek up I-71 to see their former record-setting quarterback make his NFL preseason debut.

That quarterback, of course, is Dwayne Haskins — who will suit up for the Washington Redskins on Thursday when they take on the Cleveland Browns at 7:30 p.m. at First Energy Stadium.

“All my Ohio State friends are hitting me up about it and stuff like that,” Haskins said. “I’m excited to be back in the state I went to college at. … I’m looking forward to going back and having some fun.”

After two weeks of training camp and months of preparation, Haskins will finally get the chance to translate what he has learned in practice and in meetings to an actual game. Coach Jay Gruden did not address how long Haskins will play, though confirmed he will see the field against the Browns.

Working in Haskins‘ favor, the Redskins will hold out Colt McCoy for precautionary reasons as the 32-year-old is still recovering from a broken leg — potentially freeing up more playing time for the rookie. It is not known who will start against the Browns, but Gruden said Tuesday at least three of his four quarterbacks will play.

In camp, Haskins has received reps with the first team, but he’s largely played with the backups. The 22-year-old was listed as the third-string quarterback on Washington’s depth chart earlier this week.

“It will be kind of cool to see him in a game,” Gruden said. “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.”

Like any rookie, Haskins has had his fair share of ups and downs throughout camp. On Tuesday, he engineered an impressive drive with the first team, completing solid throws to Paul Richardson and Trey Quinn with pinpoint accuracy. There are other times, however, when Haskins badly missed his target.

Despite the inconsistencies, Haskins has focused on trying to get comfortable in Gruden’s offense. He often spends time after practice working on his throws with quarterbacks coach Tim Rattay. He’s even picking the brain of Alex Smith, asking the injured quarterback about what he saw on the play if they’re standing next to each other on the sideline.

Asked if he feels pressure to win Washington’s quarterback competition, Haskins said he’s just having fun. He realizes he’s not a seven-year or a ten-year veteran like Keenum or McCoy — taking advantage of that by asking them for their insight.

Among Haskins‘ goals, the quarterback tries to never repeat the same mistake twice. He also tries to find ways to bring extra energy to his teammates, and gradually, Haskins‘ personality has started to show.

For instance, Haskins typically makes it a point to go over to his receiver after every completion for a quick celebration.

Haskins said he’s trying to figure out “the whole operation” — calling plays, making his checks, making the right progression and getting the ball to the right spot.

“That is just a process of getting reps and getting reps and getting better every day and just trying to make each rep as close to the game as possible just to make it realistic,” Haskins said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

Now, Haskins will have his chance to actually have his reps in a game.

“(We’ve) got to play sometime there, so now is as good a time as any,” Gruden said. “We’ll see how he does.”

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