With Case Keenum being named the Week 1 starter and Colt McCoy still rehabbing, head coach Jay Gruden announced after practice Monday that rookie Dwayne Haskins will start under center in the team's preseason finale with Baltimore on Thursday night. And while Haskins will not be working with the Redskins' starters, Gruden remains confident in those who will join Haskins on the field against the Ravens.
"Our linemen that are playing in the game are quite capable of protecting him and opening up some lanes for the running game," Gruden said.
After an inconsistent training camp, Haskins has shown a better understanding of the offense and displayed overall growth through his first three professional games. After throwing two interceptions -- one of which was returned for a touchdown -- against the Cleveland Browns, Haskins produced a turnover-free outing and his first-career NFL touchdown versus the Cincinnati Bengals a week later. In Atlanta, the first-rounder missed a few throws but did not commit any turnovers. He completed seven of his 13 passes for 74 yards.
"I was just trying to be sound in the huddle and be good at the line of scrimmage," Haskins said after the Redskins' 19-7 win over the Falcons on Aug. 22. "I wanted to make plays and really just make sure I performed for the team."
Gruden Addresses Jordan Reed Injury
-- Gruden expressed optimism about the health of tight end Jordan Reed, who landed in concussion protocol after a helmet-to-helmet hit in Atlanta.
"We're quite confident that Jordan will be fine," Gruden said.
That being said, his return date remains uncertain. Gruden said Monday that Reed will not come back to practice until an independent doctor clears him. In his absence, the Redskins will rely primarily on veteran Vernon Davis and third-year man Jeremy Sprinkle for production.
Cam Sims Leads Headlines Receiving Core In Atlanta
-- Gruden said second-year wideout Cam Sims used his size (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) to his advantage during his three-catch, 48-yard performance against the Falcons in Week 3 of the preseason. On one occasion, Sims won out against bump-and-run coverage to make a reception on a slant route. On another play, he gained separation from his defensive back and hauled in a pass with one hand. His biggest play, though, came in the second quarter, when he found an opening in the middle of the field for a 28-yard catch and run.
Sims, who recorded one catch for six yards over the first two weeks, was the game's leading receiver in Atlanta. It served as another step in the right direction for the second-year wideout, who stood out throughout OTAs and training camp after a sprained ankle robbed him of his rookie campaign.
"He's been winning on routes down the field and he's good in the running game," Gruden said. "He's proven to have great versatility for us. He's got speed to get you deep and he can be physical to run the rough in-breaking routes that you're looking for when you're looking for that size of a player. He's just got to continue to get the reps. He didn't get much last year; he got hurt early and this year, he's been through OTAs and training camp now and you can see him getting better and better. He's still a working progress, but I like where he's headed."
- Gruden said he feels "very strongly" that Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams will not be traded. Williams missed all of training camp and has yet to report to the team this preseason.
- In his absence, Gruden said veteran Donald Penn is probably the starting left tackle right now. Penn, 36, signed with the Redskins on July 31 and has been rotating with Geron Christian ever since. The 12-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler played with the starters in Atlanta and is in position to assume the same role Week 1 in Philadelphia.
- Gruden said it's "very possible it could be a redshirt year" for running back Bryce Love, who has been on the Physically Unable To Perform (PUP) list since training camp began in late July. The fourth-round rookie continues to work back from the torn ACL he suffered in December.
- Running back Adrian Peterson received a veteran off-day Monday.