Dwayne Haskins' final stat line in the Redskins' Week 13 victory over Carolina was not eye-popping or overly impressive.
The rookie QB completed just 13 passes at a 54 percent clip with no touchdowns. Washington relied heavily on the run game, which ran for a season-high 248 yards, and their defense to bring home their third win of the season.
While Haskins' numbers don't stand out, the improvement and strides he's made in other aspects have been noticeable to many, including running back Chris Thompson.
Thompson returned to the field Sunday after missing five games with a toe injury. His return marked the first time he played with Haskins during the regular season; the last time the two took a snap together was in training camp.
The seven-year veteran joined The Sports Junkies on Monday and praised the improvement in Haskins' command of the huddle and understanding of the offense -- two things the Redskins are specifically looking for a development of during the remainder of the 2019 season.
"Just being in the huddle, I feel like he's taken more control," Thompson said on Haskins. "I feel like he's more calm out there. Everybody knows the story, he'd go out there and have a wristband [of the plays] and things like that. He's put more [pressure] on himself to not even want to use the wristband. He's just trying to learn everything."
Thompson pointed out Haskins' understanding of coverages and the ability to change pass protections at the line of scrimmage as one area he's drastically improved in.
Recalling back just two weeks ago, Haskins struggled in that aspect against the Jets. He was captured on video asking his offensive lineman on the sidelines "What can I do to help you?"
Two weeks later, the difference is clear.
"He was out there being able to flip protections to be able to protect himself. That's what I love to see," Thompson said. "I remember one time I was calling out the protection, I was saying it out loud. I was saying 'We need to flip this protection.' We had what we call a dummy count, and he walked up, switched the protection and put us in the right position for him to be able to get all six guys blocked up. That's the growth I've been seeing."
Although the play resulted in an incomplete pass, Thompson pointed out one sequence against Carolina that showed him a significant amount of progress in terms of the quarterback going through his progressions. On a third-down play, Haskins avoided multiple defenders in the pocket, kept his eyes downfield and found an open Jeremy Sprinkle for what would have been good enough for a first down.
Incredible play by Dwayne Haskins. Avoids multiple rushers with good movement in the pocket while keeping his eyes down the field. Finds TE Jeremy Sprinkle for what would have been a first down but Sprinkle dropped it #Redskins pic.twitter.com/wSQ36MoZQ4
— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) December 1, 2019
The tight end dropped it, but Haskins's effort on that play did not go unnoticed.
"As playmakers, we continue to make plays for him, I think he's going to continue to get better and better," Thompson said. I love that extended play that he threw to Sprinkle. Sprink ended up dropping it. I think it was on a third-and-12 or something like that. Those are the steps I see he's been making and I can tell he's getting more and more comfortable with the game and the speed with everything out there."
Taking care of the ball is vital to success in the NFL, and it's something rookie quarterbacks usually struggle with. In the two relief appearances he had earlier in the season, the rookie threw four interceptions in his first 22 pass attempts. In Haskins' first three starts, he had three turnovers.
But in the win against Carolina, Haskins also did not turn the ball over, which is a step in the right direction.
"That's huge for sure," Thompson said on Haskins playing mistake-free football. "I think that has come with him just growing and being able to read defenses better. The more he gets these game reps, he gets to read and see things differently. I know he's putting all the time in to continue to progress and help us win these games and I'm happy for him and his team."
These are all small steps, but steps that the Redskins hope to look back on and be excited about the progress and maturation Haskins has made during a short amount of time.
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