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Haskins fined, in line to start for Washington if needed

Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) as he prepares to throw the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) as he prepares to throw the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Dwayne Haskins was handed a hefty fine Wednesday for partying with several people not wearing a mask but will start at quarterback for Washington on Sunday against Carolina if Alex Smith isn’t healthy enough to go.

The organization fined Haskins $40,000 for violating COVID-19 protocols, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the fine.

“I know my team needs me, and I need to step up to the plate and I can’t be selfish, and I need to stop getting in my own way,” Haskins said. “I’ll do everything in my power to make the most of my second chance.”

Haskins apologized to teammates, took the first-team snaps in practice, and is in line to play against the Panthers if needed with the NFC East title potentially at stake — as long as he doesn’t test positive for the coronavirus this week. He apologized publicly Tuesday for his actions after photos showing him without a mask around several other people surfaced on social media.

The 2019 first-round pick said he was at a private birthday party event for his girlfriend.

“There were more than 10 people who weren’t wearing masks and that’s a violation regardless of where I was at, but I did not attend a strip club,” Haskins said.

Rivera said the organization worked out an agreement with the NFL for Haskins to be tested twice a day and wear a mask on under his helmet with a face shield to practice.

“We are following up with the club and looking at all the data we normally look at for all cases,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said. “We are doing the contact tracing and awaiting test results. It’s always our goal that anyone on the field is not infected or at high risk of getting infected or getting others infected. That’s a case we continue to monitor with the club.”

Rivera refused to say what the internal discipline was for Haskins and bristled at a continued line of questions about the quarterback he benched and demoted to third-string earlier this season.

“What’s important for this franchise right now is that we’re going forward,” Rivera said. “We play on Sunday. I want to get that really clear. We play on Sunday. The game on Sunday, to me, is more important than what has happened. What has happened has been dealt with. There have been consequences.”

Washington can clinch the NFC East title Sunday by beating the Panthers if the New York Giants lose to Baltimore. There's a chance Smith, who worked on the side and did some drills at practice Wednesday, is back from a right calf injury that caused him to miss the Seahawks game — if he makes enough progress.

“I’m absolutely planning on being out there,” Smith said. “I’m doing every single thing I can to make sure that happens.”

Smith had led Washington on a four-game winning streak before straining the calf Dec. 13 against San Francisco. Haskins started and threw two interceptions in a 20-15 loss to Seattle before the incident that led to the fine.

Haskins said he understood this could be his final chance with Washington. Asked how teammates and coaches would trust him after his second protocol violation this season, he said, “I’ll have to earn that with my actions and my play.”

The only other quarterbacks Washington has available are Taylor Heinicke and Steven Montez on the practice squad. Heinicke hasn't played since 2018, and Montez has no NFL experience.

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed.

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