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At every turn, Ron Rivera has insisted that Alex Smith can be part of Washington Football Team’s quarterback competition entering the 2020 season, despite the team spending the 15th overall pick in last year’s draft on incumbent starter Dwayne Haskins. Regardless of whether Smith fully returns from the devastating leg injury that nearly cost him his life back in 2018, however, Haskins appears to be embracing his counterpart. The second-year signal-caller told reporters Tuesday that he hopes Smith returns to “100 percent health” and already views the former Pro Bowler as a mentor in the QB room.

“I’m excited for Alex,” Haskins said, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post. “I hope he gets back to full 100 percent health. Whoever is in the quarterback room, I have to compete with (them), and even though he’s not really practicing with the offense, he’s still working hard, and even if we get to run against each other in competition and drills, I’m trying to make sure he gets me better and I get him better. We look at Alex as somebody who’s a mentor in the room that can help us every day as far as getting ready for who we’re playing each week and who we’re getting ready for next week.”

Haskins’ remarks at least make it clear there’s no animosity within a potentially awkward QB situation. Smith, after all, still has two years left on a $94 million contract, counting more than $50 million against Washington’s salary cap through 2022; whereas Haskins has the clear upper hand for the Opening Day job because of how much the team invested in him during Smith’s absence.

Reading between the lines, it doesn’t necessarily seem like Haskins is afraid of losing his job, even if he’s welcomed the competition. He noted that Smith, unlike him, isn’t officially practicing with the offense in the run-up to the season, then suggested Smith’s best contributions will amount to helping “us” prepare for weekly opponents — essentially playing the role of a scout-team QB. The comments certainly don’t carry a dismissive tone, but more likely reinforce the reality: Until Smith is actually activated off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, all Washington can do is prepare as if Haskins is the guy.

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