Haskins struggles in relief; Keenum in protocol

MINNEAPOLIS — The Washington Redskins have preached patience with rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. They’d like that patience to continue, but they might not have a choice.

In Washington’s 19-9 loss to Minnesota on Thursday night, Haskins relieved starter Case Keenum, who entered the concussion protocol at halftime and could not continue. If Keenum can’t play in the Redskins’ Week 9 game at Buffalo, interim coach Bill Callahan said Haskins would start. But, if healthy, Keenum would be the starter.

Haskins had his second tough relief outing, completing 3 of 5 passes for 33 yards and an interception. In two games — he relieved Keenum and played two-and-a-half quarters against the New York Giants in Week 4 — Haskins has thrown 22 passes and four interceptions.

“I hate losing,” Haskins said. “Feel like I played a part in that, and it’s tough, but it’s only Year 1 for me. Got a lot of years left, and this is all a learning experience.”

Haskins appeared dejected as he addressed the media after the game, and his words were difficult to hear from several feet away as he spoke into the microphone. Before he entered the room, running back Adrian Peterson stopped and chatted with him. Peterson told him he was there for him, a phrase other teammates told him as well.

“They want me to own it, and I do,” Haskins said.

Peterson said, “He came in in the heat of the moment and handled himself well. There’s some things that we all could have done better. But … I didn’t see him get rattled at all to be honest, when I looked in his eyes. He’s just got to continue to do a good job of getting better and taking over the role.”

In his previous outing, Haskins went 9-of-17 for 108 yards and three interceptions. Thursday, he was intercepted when a third-quarter pass sailed over the head of an open Terry McLaurin in the red zone. The Redskins trailed by only a touchdown at the time and would have had a first down off a completion.

The Redskins have wanted Haskins to improve his accuracy; when he has missed on throws in practice or now in games, they usually have been too high.

“It happened so fast,” Haskins said. “It was there, seeing it, Cover 2. … I couldn’t really step into it the way that I wanted to, but it came out higher than I thought.”

Callahan said, “The read was right, the route was good, the playcall was excellent. You just got to make a play. He’ll learn that as time moves forward. He made a couple good throws during the game, but that’s a key throw that he would love to have back.”

Callahan said Haskins will take time developing. The Redskins haven’t always given him first-team reps — most teams don’t have their backups take them. But Haskins feels a lot more comfortable and ready when he does. He took them before the Redskins’ previous loss to San Francisco. Though he didn’t play in that game, he said he felt more prepared. Haskins has taken first-team reps whenever Keenum has been unable to practice.

Haskins also was sacked when a pass-rusher came free. There was another third down in which the Redskins broke the huddle late, around 15 seconds, and there was confusion among the receivers and the line. The ball was snapped at the last second amid the confusion, and Haskins was sacked again.

“It’s a growing process with any young quarterback that comes in the league,” Callahan said. “I think all the quarterbacks that I can recall, I look at Troy Aikman when he was young, what he went through, and Peyton [Manning] what he went through as a rookie, so those are growing pains. You can’t pinpoint one specific thing, I wish I could, I wish I could say it’s this or it’s that, but it’s just a whole experience, and there’s something new every day that’s going to come up for a rookie quarterback.”

Keenum completed 12 of 16 passes for 130 yards in the first half. The Redskins had to settle for two field goals though as Keenum and the offense failed to convert twice inside the 10-yard line. The Redskins trailed 13-6 at halftime.

Haskins’ development has been scrutinized all season with questions about why he hadn’t been playing. It was known that the coaching staff wanted another player with the 15th pick in the draft. But Redskins sources say Haskins has been energized the past two weeks since the team fired coach Jay Gruden.

After the loss to the Giants, several Redskins sources said they felt it was an eye-opening game for Haskins and showed how much he had to learn. But Haskins said he doesn’t feel worse now than he did after that game, played near where he grew up.

“Sentimental reasons for that one,” he said. “It’s competitive nature, competitive spirit. If you play football and you’re comfortable with losing, you shouldn’t be playing football. It’s tough. I take it tough and put it on me. And I have the weekend to get over.”

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