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Practice Notes 8/29: Dwayne Haskins Finishes Strong; Alex Smith Takes Next Step

Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team
Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team

Due to inclement weather, the Washington football team practiced at its indoor facility at the Inova Sports Performance Center on Saturday morning. And because of COVID-19 restrictions, the media was not allowed to attend.

Fortunately, Washington's public relations staff provided updates throughout the 135-minute session. Here's what we learned from Saturday's practice:

OFFENSE:

-- Dwayne Haskins Jr. seemed to get better as practice progressed. After throwing a pair of touchdowns to Antonio Gibson and Logan Thomas early on, Haskins found his rhythm during the final two team periods. During the former drill, he completed a 20-yard pass to Thomas over the middle and a 15-yarder to Steven Sims Jr.. Haskins then went 3-of-3 on his first drive during the "move-the-ball" period, including back-to-back 15-yard completions to Terry McLaurin across the middle.

"Dwayne's doing a great job every day of getting better," Thomas said Friday. "That's the biggest thing I see in him, is every day is a step forward, not a step back. I'm just trying to do my job and trying to make him feel comfortable."

-- Speaking of Thomas, he continues to be one of Haskins' favorite targets, especially in the red zone. The two connected for their fifth touchdown in six practices Saturday.

"I just want to be somebody [Dwayne's] confident in to make a play," Thomas said. "I think that's the reason we have such a connection because if he throws it to me, nothing bad is going to happen. It's either going to be a catch or an incompletion. I think that's the way you've got to look at it. In the red zone, hopefully my size will help make a play down there."

-- Antonio Gibson continues to rotate in with the starting offense and caught a touchdown pass from Haskins on Saturday. Head coach Ron Rivera said after practice that the team has a plan for the third-round rookie but that it has yet to be fully revealed.

"I know we haven't shown you guys the whole plan," Rivera told reporters, "and that's part of the secret that we're trying to keep going into the regular season. But, Antonio is a very versatile young man, solid football player. ...We've put a lot on his plate, we really have, and he's handled it very well."

-- Adrian Peterson, who Rivera described as the tone-setter of the running backs room, ran for a 15-yard touchdown against the starting defense. Meanwhile, J.D. McKissic caught a few more passes, and Peyton Barber caught a touchdown during the 9-on-9 red zone period.

"We got some real dogs in that room, man," McKissic said. "It's very competitive."

-- Alex Smith played in his first 11-on-11 period Saturday. There was no contact because the team was in shells, but Rivera called his participation "a very big step" as Smith aims to complete his remarkable comeback.

"Sure, we were in shells today, but just the fact that he was doing something with 11 guys on the field at the same time I think is a big step in the direction that we all want to head," Rivera said of Smith. "We'll see how things unfold, we'll see how he feels tomorrow and we'll go from there."

-- Rivera said there are positions where the coaching staff is still trying to find the right combination. Left guard seems to be one of those. Wes Martin has been the starter for most of camp, but recently signed Joshua Garnett and fifth-round rookie Keith Ismael have also played there recently. On Saturday, Ismael started at center and Chase Roullier shifted to left guard.

-- Undrafted rookie Isaiah Wright caught a touchdown pass from Kyle Allen in the left corner of the end zone during 9-on-9 session.

-- Antonio Gandy-Golden was not at practice Saturday after getting hurt Friday, according to Rivera. However, Rivera said the injury is "nothing serious" and that "it will just be a matter of time" before Washington gets him back onto the field.

-- Tackle Saahdiq Charles, guard Mike Liedtke and wide receiver Jordan Veasy worked off to the side Saturday.

DEFENSE:

-- Chase Young participated in every period Saturday and started multiple sessions opposite Montez Sweat.

-- Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis each had a sack Saturday. As always, Payne, Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen rotated in at the starting defensive tackle spots.

-- Linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. and cornerback Kendall Fuller received the day off. The starting linebackers for most of Saturday's practice were Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jon Bostic and Kevin Pierre-Louis. Jimmy Moreland replaced Fuller as the outside corner opposite Ronald Darby. Moreland and Darby each had pass breakups to add to their already impressive training camp.

-- Cornerback Ryan Lewis was not at practice Saturday, while linebacker Donald Payne and defensive end Nate Orchard worked off to the side. Cornerback Fabian Moreau participated in individual drills before working off to the side.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

-- Sims was the primary kick returner, followed by Gibson and wide receiver Darvin Kidsy Jr..

-- Wide receiver Trey Quinn was the first punt returner, followed by Sims and Wright.

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