Former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins is restarting his career with the Steelers after being unceremoniously cut near the end of the 2020 season.
From the forefront of an organization in Washington to the background in Pittsburgh, Haskins said Thursday morning that he's just looking for any opportunity to earn a job.
"Just coming here to Pittsburgh, I just wanted to prove to the coaching staff and my teammates how much I love football. And just grateful for the opportunity to be here and just show them that my mind's in the right place and that I'm willing to work to be able to show my talent and be able to work and earn a spot here."
Haskins signed a reserve/futures deal with the Steelers in January. Since then, Ben Roethlisberger returned on a reworked deal. Mason Rudolph signed a 1-year extension. And Joshua Dobbs re-upped. Haskins will have to prove a lot to earn a roster spot in Pittsburgh this season.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Wednesday that he's more concerned about developing a relationship with Haskins off the field, not focusing on on-field progress.
"I've been more concerned about Dwayne the person," Tomlin said. "Getting to know him. Getting an understanding of what he's been through and how that's shaped him affected him positively, negatively. How it's affected the growth and development of his game. I think more than anything, Dwayne and I are trying to get to know one another. I think it starts there, and then we can focus on some things relative to the game itself. I'll leave some of the minutia and some of the details about his football development to him and (quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan) and (offensive coordinator Matt) Canada. I just want to get to know the young man and help him grow in that way."
Haskins' off-field issues in Washington exasperated his on-field struggles during his less-than-two seasons with the club.
Recently retired quarterback Alex Smith previously noted that Haskins is "crazy gifted" but needs to eliminate the "distractions."
The 24-year-old said he wasn't stunned by how it ended in Washington.
"I wouldn't necessarily say I was surprised," Haskins said. "It's just a part of the business. Wasn't necessarily the people that, you know, were brought in by the new coaching staff and understanding that this is a business and realizing that as the season went on that things weren't going the way that we both wanted it to.
"Just grateful for the opportunity Washington gave me, but it wasn't completely surprising, but it was also definitely unfortunate to be able to be released the way that I was."
The hope is the 24-year -old big-armed QB can focus on football in Pittsburgh, away from the noise and expectations that overwhelmed his time in Washington.
Given the four QBs on the roster, coupled with the fact that Big Ben is learning a new offense that might require he take more reps in training camp, it's questionable whether Haskins will get the snaps to prove his game has improved from the roller-coaster play in Washington.
For now, he's just trying to soak up the Steelers culture, learn the playbook and stay out of the spotlight.
"My expectations here [are] to make everyone who decided to take a chance on me look good and just work as hard as I possibly can and let my work speak for itself," he said. "Of course, I want to be able to take after Big Ben and stuff like that, but that comes within due time. Just being able to everything I need to do on a day-to-day basis, and they expect a lot out of me as far as just being prepared and being the best version of myself, that's what they pretty much want from me and allowing that to just speak for itself."
The next step comes in training camp, where Haskins must prove he's worth a roster spot or if he's ticketed for practice squad duty.