ASHBURN — Ron Rivera says the organization hasn’t given up on Dwayne Haskins after the former No. 15 overall pick was benched. But the Washington coach refused to say whether the team had fielded any trade calls involving the quarterback and shot down a question whether Haskins had asked to be moved.
As the questions continued to swirl, Haskins missed Wednesday’s practice due to an illness that the team said was not COVID-19.
“I don’t want to talk about the hypotheticals,” Rivera said. “Whatever happens happens as far as this football team goes. It’s really about trying to get us in position to win a game and develop this football team, so we’ll cross those bridges as we get to them.”
Rivera was asked if a possible Haskins trade was on the team’s “radar.” Over the weekend, CBS Sports reported that Haskins’ camp would like the 23-year-old to be traded, while citing sources within Washington that believed a deal was the most likely outcome.
“I’m not going to talk about football business,” Rivera said when asked if Haskins had made a trade request.
Haskins was not at Wednesday’s practice, Washington’s first of the week as the team prepares for this weekend’s matchup with the New York Giants. The absence marked the second time in three days that Haskins was too sick for work — with the quarterback also missing Sunday’s loss against the Los Angeles Rams.
Washington does not believe Haskins’ illness is related to COVID-19, Rivera said. The quarterback showed up to the team’s facility Wednesday morning, was examined by doctors , took a coronavirus test and then went home once he received medicine. Rivera said Haskins’ illness has “something to do with the (gastrointestinal) system,” but added that he did not know the specific ailment.
It has been exactly one week since Rivera demoted Haskins to third string in favor of Kyle Allen and Alex Smith. The coach made the change following Washington’s 1-3 start in an attempt to take control of the NFC East, saying Haskins did not make enough progress with his play. Haskins had a respectable four touchdowns to three interceptions, but coaches said the quarterback was making too many of the same mistakes and missing opportunities.
Allen is set to make his second straight start for Washington this weekend. The 24-year-old, knocked out of Sunday’s loss to the Rams with a shoulder injury, was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.
While Haskins has been sick, offensive coordinator Scott Turner said Haskins was at the team’s facility on Monday and participated in team meetings. He said the two have not talked since then.
When Haskins was benched, Turner took some heat for the quarterback’s struggles from Haskins’ camp to national media. Quincy Avery, Haskins’ private quarterback coach, tweeted that a quarterback’s success is tied to his offensive coordinator, writing that “if my success was tied to a playcaller (I) wouldn’t want it to be Scott Turner.”
ESPN analyst and former quarterback Dan Orlovsky was critical of Turner’s play designs. He said that too often Washington’s receivers would be “on top” of each other, causing the quarterback to make difficult throws.
“Don’t ask me for production without equipping me with the tools necessary for success,” Orlovsky said on “NFL Live,” ESPN’s football show. “The issues of this offense is bigger than just Dwayne Haskins. He needs to play better. So do 25 quarterbacks in the NFL.”
Asked about his relationship with Haskins, Turner said he has felt good about the dynamic. He added the two had a nice back-and-forth when Haskins was starting, with each giving their feedback on the offense. After Haskins’ demotion, Turner said he could tell Haskins was “obviously upset” the first few days.
“Toward the end of last week we talked a little bit,” Turner said, not offering up specifics.
The NFL’s trade deadline this season is Nov. 3. Washington has until then to decide whether to move Haskins this season. If the deadline passes and Washington decides it wants to move Haskins in the future, the team would have to wait until the offseason to find a deal.
In the meantime, Rivera said he expects Haskins to return for Thursday’s practice.
“This is an opportunity for him to continue to learn and grow and develop,” Rivera said. “Again as I said, I have not quit on the kid as far as his development. … Dwayne’s a young man that’s learning and growing. He hasn’t been in the system. He hasn’t had the benefit of a full offseason. He hasn’t had the benefit of a true training camp. So, based on what I saw, I made the decision to make the switch because I feel these guys, because of their knowledge of what we know, give us a better chance.”