This is “no new game for me” says quarterback Case Keenum when asked about what the Redskins’ 2019 draft class – specifically the first-round selection of Dwayne Haskins – means to his roster status.
Keenum, whom the Redskins traded for this offseason, was expected to compete with Colt McCoy this training camp. With the addition of Haskins, the 15th-overall pick and presumed franchise player, the veteran quarterback will simply have another competitor in the room.
It’s no time for panic. Keenum understands this is the nature of the NFL and has experience trying to separate himself from the pack over the multiple stops he’s made in his career.
“I’ve been in this situation before so I’m going to come in and compete and competition makes all of us better,” he said at the Redskins Charitable Foundation’s Fifth Annual Golf Charity Classic on Monday. “So I make him better, I think he’s going to come in and make me better and that’s what helps the team is competition. You’re competing against yourself, you’re competing against the other guys in the room, you’re competing against the defense during OTAs. I love to compete, I’m going to compete today. I want to win.”
Certainly the organization’s focus will laser in on Haskins this week in preparation for rookie minicamp. Whether he is ready to jump right into the starting job is yet to be seen, something that will be determined throughout August as head coach Jay Gruden gets a better view of his progression.
Gruden admitted Monday that there remain plenty of variables that will impact how soon he’ll feel comfortable inserting Haskins into the starting job, including cleaning up his footwork. There's also the other veterans in the group jockeying for position.
“He’s pretty far along as far as fundamentals are concerned based on at Ohio State that one year,” Gruden said of Haskins. “We’ll just wait and see. Some guys you can push along harder than others, some guys you might want to be a little more patient with. We have no idea of knowing until we get them in the building.”
Keenum will understandably take on the dual role of competitor and mentor, and said he hopes the quarterbacks room “is a noisy room, where everyone talks and shares and sees things through different lenses. But I’ve got a lot of knowledge that I’ve learned from guys I’ve worked with in the past. That’s part of this league, being able to pass on knowledge, that’s how I work, that’s how I operate.”
In Keenum’s eyes, Haskins will learn from the team’s stable of offensive coaches and be observant of how he and McCoy operate each day.
“I think, first of all, my job is to help this team win no matter what,” Keenum said. “And that’s being ready to play, being ready to put our offense specifically in the best position to move the ball, get first downs and get touchdowns, score some points. That’s my job, that’s what I’m here to do…I learned more just by watching players around me, so there’s that too. But first and foremost, my job is to get ready to play and be ready when this team needs me.”
Gruden said he’s spoken with Keenum and McCoy about the team’s plans with Haskins. There won’t be a clear path to starting under center, but that was never promised before the Redskins drafted Haskins last week.
“We’ve had talks. They understand. It’s pro football, there’s going to be competition, whether it’s a first rounder, second rounder, fifth rounder, it doesn’t matter we’re going to bring another quarterback in,” Gruden said. “It just so happens it was the 15th pick and Dwayne Haskins. So the competition level will be fierce in that room, but they all welcome it and expect it.”