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Lions Practice Week Notes: Young Offense Gears Up For Another Test

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Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell remembers seeing all the young talent the team had in training camp. Steve Sims was becoming a more active contributor, and they loved their draft picks in Terry McLaurin, Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Kelvin Harmon.

O’Connell remembers all of them checking two boxes with him: they had the skill sets the team was looking for, and they loved football.

“These guys show up every day and they work,” O’Connell said. “When I’m installing plays on offense and we’re doing third downs or red zone…I can turn around and see those guys with a pen in their hands writing down those details, hoping that they can give themselves the best possible success transitions on Sunday.”

Although the Redskins are off to a 1-9 start this season, O’Connell and the coaching staff are excited about the young core of players on the roster. McLaurin is having a standout season as a rookie, while Harmon had a career day against the Jets and Haskins is starting for the remainder of the season.

“You can see a nucleus of young players here," Callahan said, "and it’s fun to watch those guys."

-- With Haskins starting for the rest of the year, the primary concern has been getting him plenty of game experience while not overwhelming him too early. That responsibility falls upon the entire offense, and that even includes the center.

“I think Chase Roullier is one of the better centers in the league at identifying, recognizing, communicating all of the variables and variations of front problems, pressure problems that are created,” said interim head coach Bill Callahan.

The Redskins are trying to communicate protection schemes to Haskins in the most simplistic terms so that he’s aware of what those issues are when the ball is snapped, Callahan said. The center is at the forefront of recognizing different defensive pressures, and Callahan added that Roullier has the “initial responsibility in point.”

“At times they’re try points, at times they’re dummy points because you have to change that up, but we try to get that communicated and echoed throughout the entirety of the offensive line.”

-- Callahan said it’s hard to put an exact number to the amount of games a quarterback plays before he feels more comfortable. Rather, it’s an ongoing process for any quarterback.

“They’re different, every game is different, every defense that you encounter and coverage and team, they’re so different,” Callahan said. “I think it’s just a body of work and it’s a ton of work that a quarterback has to get comfortable with.”

Up to this point in the season, Haskins’ body of work has included some of the better defenses in the league. His first career start was against the Buffalo Bills and their top-ranked defense, and that was followed up by the Jets’ blitz heavy front seven, which sacked Haskins six times.

In two starts and four appearances, Haskins has completed 46 of 79 passes for 498 yards and two touchdowns. Callahan said it’s a maturation process -- something Haskins is still going through -- and that’s something that will take time for him as it would for any quarterback.

“When they do [get comfortable], the game slows down for them so they can execute in a better manner,” Callahan said.

-- There are plenty of familiar faces returning to the Redskins offense, including running back Chris Thompson and wide receiver Paul Richardson. Callahan does not have an answer as to how that will affect the players who have gotten more playing time in their absence, but did say it will depend upon the in-game situations.

“We’ll see how that goes,” Callahan said. “I don’t have a direct answer for you because the game’s different in the way it can unfold and how it will get emphasized.”

Richardson has been battling a hamstring injury and missed last week’s game against the Jets. Harmon has stepped up while Richardson has been recovering, and he posted career highs in receptions (5) and yards (53).

Thompson has been out since the team’s only win against the Miami Dolphins with turf toe, and since then Wendell Smallwood has had an increased role while Derrius Guice has returned from injured reserve after tearing his meniscus in Week 1.

Richardson was listed as full participant for Thursday and Friday’s practices, while Thompson was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.

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