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Dwayne Haskins is the favorite to win the quarterback competition in Washington, even though the 2019 first-round pick doesn’t have a stranglehold on the job. Haskins continues to battle Kyle Allen for the starting role, but Washington has a new player that has entered the competition in Alex Smith. 

Smith practiced for the first time Monday after being cleared to play by passing the football portion of his physical, 21 months after suffering a life-threatening leg injury that resulted in 17 surgeries. While Rivera said Smith will get the opportunity to win the job, the head coach has been impressed with what he’s seen from Haskins thus far. 

“Am I happy from what I’ve seen from Dwayne at camp? Yeah, I am. He’s done exactly what we’ve asked,” Rivera said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney Thursday. “He had a good offseason, he came back in great shape. But, he has to continue to show us that he has some growth coming and he’s doing the things we need.”

Even though Haskins is the front-runner for the job, it’s easy to see why Rivera is giving Allen and Smith a fair shot at snatching the job from him. Washington’s pass offense was one of the worst in the NFL last season, averaging 175.8 yards a game (last in the league). Washington was last in points per game (16.6) and 31st in yards per game (274.7), which spoke to Haskins’ struggles early in the year. 

Washington knows what it has with Smith, who has thrown 142 touchdown passes to just 48 interceptions since the start of the 2011 season, leading the league in passer rating in 2017 and topping a 100 passer rating twice in that span. Washington was 6-3 and leading the NFC East when Smith when down with his leg injury, as the quarterback completed 62.5% of his passes with 2,180 yards and 10 touchdowns to five interceptions (85.7 rating). 

How Smith responds to live hitting and whether his skills have diminished post-surgery will play a huge factor in his chances of winning the starting job. Even if Smith — or Allen — doesn’t win the starting job, their chances of becoming the starting quarterback of Washington won’t diminish. 

Rivera showed his hand, saying he’ll play whatever quarterback gives him the best chance to win. If he has to bench Haskins Week 1, so be it. 

“I’m not waiting for the ‘right moment’ or the ‘right person,”” Rivera said. “We have to make those moments right, and waiting for a guy to catch up isn’t going to help the other guys.”


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