- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2020

Dwayne Haskins didn’t set out to lose this much weight. The Redskins quarterback is at 218 pounds these days — down 10 since the end of the season and 20 below where he was when he was drafted in 2019.

The weight loss, Haskins said, was the result of cutting out “a lot of toxic stuff” in his life.

“I want to be the best player I can be for my team,” Haskins said, “and that was me working (toward) it. It just fell off.”

Haskins’ slimmer frame was evident this week when he did a video press conference wearing a sleeveless t-shirt. Getting leaner is just one of the ways Haskins has attacked this offseason as the 23-year-old is trying to respond to the challenges issued by coach Ron Rivera.

Rivera, who inherited Haskins when he was hired in December, has said he wants the second-year signal-caller to develop into a leader, and he’s made moves to push Haskins — including trading for Kyle Allen to create a quarterback competition. 

Haskins, who’s talked with Rivera about the coach’s expectations, wasn’t fazed. 

After all, Haskins said he wants to become “the face of the franchise.” He’ll have to prove he’s up to the task following an uneven rookie campaign that called into question his work ethic and maturity.

“I just wanted to be a man about my business and that’s on and off the field,” Haskins said. “Not that I wasn’t prior too, but now turning 23, still being young and growing, whenever there were questions about immaturity or lack of whatever it was, I was going to change that whether it was true or not just for myself because I needed to do that for me.”

Part of Haskins’ growth has been organizing offseason workouts with teammates. When the coronavirus pandemic limited the in-person work the Redskins could do at their facility, Haskins gathered receivers Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon at a nearby high school.

Haskins also went down to Florida to work with a group of wideouts including Antonio Brown, Stefon Diggs and Chad Johnson. Haskins said it was beneficial to hear different perspectives from a wide range of NFL veterans. 

Johnson, in particular, relayed his experiences with former quarterback Carson Palmer, Haskins said.

Up close, McLaurin has noticed a difference in Haskins — even beyond the physical transformation. He said Haskins seems focused, but is also “having fun again.” Without elaborating, he noted Haskins has “cleaned some things up” in his personal life.

“He’s ready to prove his self right, really,” McLaurin said.”And just be the leader and quarterback this franchise needs and deserves. He knows it’s going to come with work, dedication, but he’s taking the right steps.”

Haskins’ coach appears to agree. Rivera praised the quarterback’s offseason this week, saying he was “proud” of Haskins’ decision to attend the protests in the District over the weekend in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 

Rivera said Haskins has done “very well” with all that has been asked of him.

Rivera shared that Haskins will send text messages late in the evening — usually when the coach is sleeping — that shows him the quarterback has been listening to what the two have discussed.

“I really do appreciate it because it shows maturity as well,” Rivera said. “You can see those types of things that you are hoping for.”

The next step, of course, will be for Rivera to see Haskins in person. For all the progress Haskins appears to have made, he’ll ultimately be judged on his ability to execute on the field. Rivera, too, said he’s looking forward to the “heck of a battle” at quarterback, indicating that Haskins will still have to earn his spot.

Haskins admits he’s “still learning” the Redskins’ new offense, but said he feels comfortable with his progress. He noted his experience in the NFL has helped him recognize concepts and learn terminology quicker. Haskins added the play-calls are shorter than Washington’s previous West Coast system, telling reporters it’s easier to pick up.

Haskins understands there’s a lot riding on the upcoming season. He has to show he can be a viable starter for the Redskins. But Haskins said he applied “pressure” on himself to take a step forward.

“I’m going to deliver, it’s never a question about that,” Haskins said.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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