Dwayne Haskins trying to prove he’s the leader Ron Rivera wants him to be

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Not long after taking the head coaching job in Washington, Ron Rivera publicly challenged Dwayne Haskins to “step up and become a leader.” The second-year quarterback took Rivera’s words to heart and has worked hard to do as his new coach asked.

“Coach Rivera has done a great job helping me, taking me under his wing,” Haskins said, via the Washington Football Talk Podcast. “I’m just trying to be that guy, be a captain on this football team is something I really worked hard for this offseason.”

Haskins went 2-5 as the team’s starter during his rookie season, throwing seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He had an “uneasy relationship with the (former) head coach” last season, JP Finlay of NBCSportsWashington.com reports.

By all accounts, Haskins looks and sounds more mature, owning a newfound air of confidence born out of a growing relationship with Rivera.

“He’s in a tough spot because he’s a guy who came in in a situation last year that wasn’t ideal, and it wasn’t of his making. He’s had to kind of grow through that time,” Rivera said. “But he survived it and now he’s in position to get himself ready to play this year. I think the thing that we all have to continue to do with him is continue to help him grow and develop.”

Haskins is competing with Alex Smith for the job. He had Case Keenum and Colt McCoy in front of him to begin 2019 after Washington selected him in the first round.

“Last year having to split reps with two other QBs and not necessarily get into a rhythm,” Haskins said. “This year even before going into training camp, I wanted to have that mindset and that work ethic as the No. 1 guy. That’s how I came into this offseason and that’s how I executed.”

Haskins showed promise in his final six quarters before injuring his ankle, completing 72 percent of his passes for 394 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Now, he has Rivera as his head coach, Scott Turner as his offensive coordinator and a belief that the job is his.