- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2019

ASHBURN, Va. — Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins will get his first career start Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, interim coach Bill Callahan said Friday.

Washington ruled out quarterback Case Keenum after the 31-year-old suffered a concussion last week against the Minnesota Vikings. The Redskins had been preparing all week for the possibility for Haskins to start as the rookie received most of the first-team reps.

Now, Haskins will get another chance to prove he’s ready to play in the NFL.

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“He’s a competitor at heart,” Callahan said of Haskins. “These guys, their mindset is a lot of different than a lot of other positions because of all the mental things that you have to obviously juggle. I thought he did a great in terms of just preparation. If he can translate to the game and just have success, that’s what we’re looking for.

“We know there will be some growing pains in there, we know there will be some mistakes. But I’m sure he’ll learn from them. … During the week, his preparation was really solid.”

Sunday will mark Haskins‘ third appearance of the season. The 22-year-old previously replaced Keenum in New York and Minnesota, struggling in both outings. He has just a 34.5 passer rating, throwing for 140 yards, four interceptions and a 54.5% completion perception on 22 passing attempts.

Callahan, though, said he believes Haskins will benefit from having a full week of reps. He praised the Ohio State product for his work ethic and approach, calling him “locked in.”

Haskins did not speak with reporters Friday, but on Wednesday, he said getting the reps was “very important.”

“Just being in the rhythm and seeing it on the field instead of not knowing what it looks like,” Haskins said. “Helps out a lot.”

The Redskins are not yet prepared to name Haskins the full-time starter if he shines against the Bills. Callahan cut off a question about the possibility of Haskins replacing Keenum on a full-time basis, saying they’re just worried about upcoming game.

Throughout Haskins‘ time with the Redskins, there have been rumblings about whether the quarterback is adequately ready to face NFL defenses. Former coach Jay Gruden stressed the 22-year-old was “a ways away” from playing, often noting Haskins had only one year of starting experience at Ohio State. Even when Gruden was fired, Callahan stuck by Keenum, saying Haskins needed more time to develop.

But with Keenum out, the Redskins went to Haskins instead of Colt McCoy, who will serve as the backup in Buffalo.

Coaches and players have also said Haskins continues to make strides.

“From my perspective, he’s been really locked in all week,” offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said. “I’ve seen him a lot. He’s been around my office a lot. … The meeting time with the other quarterbacks, making sure those guys do a good job of getting together and really trying to watch tape situationally. … Every day has been a little bit better.”

Added wideout Terry McLaurin: “His focus has even been more sharp, the way he’s preparing. … He’s really been focusing on preparing like he’s the starter, and now, he’s in a situation where he’s gotten all the reps this week and he is the starter. I’m looking forward to seeing how his development is from this last week to this week, getting all those reps under his belt.”

Haskins won’t have an easy assignment for his first start. The Bills rank third in total defense, allowing only 303.9 yards per game. They have the sixth-most efficient passing defense, according to Football Outsiders.

As for what Callahan wants to see out of Haskins this week, the coach kept it simple.

“Win,” Callahan said. “That’s all I’m looking for.”

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