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Alex Smith: 'Crazy gifted' Dwayne Haskins needs to 'eliminate' distractions

Comeback stories take on all shapes and sizes.

The most prolific comeback is from injury. Alex Smith knows this form well, having earned the most incredible comeback in NFL history, and is the shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year award in 2020.

Another sort of comeback isn't the type so easily discussed or pictured: A player who struggled both on and off the field with the rigors of playing in the NFL, turning his career around after most prematurely called it over.

Smith's former teammate, Dwayne Haskins, embodies a player attempting to make this type of comeback.

The 36-year-old Smith, who has mentored the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Mahomes, said during a recent interview with Charles Robinson and Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports that Haskins can turn it around if he can cut out the outside noise limiting his ability on the field.

"The first thing I hope with Dwayne -- and I've told him this -- is you don't have a chance until you've eliminated a lot of the distractions going on in your life," Smith said, via NBC Sports Washington. "It's hard as a young player, as a young draft pick, certainly as a quarterback thrust with a lot of weight and expectations."

Haskins was a hyped first-round pick coming out of Ohio State. He lasted less than two years in Washington before Ron Rivera and his staff had seen enough. The Football Team cut the QB after just 13 career starts. Not only did Haskins struggle on the field, but he also was critiqued for poor preparation and violating COVID-19 protocol in 2020.

As Smith noted, the talent is there for Haskins to turn his career around.

"Certainly, there was a lot working against him the last two years that didn't allow him to reach his potential. He's a guy who's crazy gifted. Crazy talented. And, he's a good kid," Smith said.

After being cut by Washington before the end of the season, Haskins garnered interest from the Carolina Panthers and this week signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers to a reserve/futures contract. The immediate interest in Haskins underscores the talent he brings to the table.

Getting another chance in Pittsburgh, as stable a franchise as there is in the NFL, could bring out the best in Haskins.

Smith hopes Haskins can cut out the distractions which the veteran believes are holding the young QB back.

"You've got a lot of voices telling you different things. In the end, this all comes down to playing well on the football field," Smith said. "You have to be able to eliminate all that other stuff, because none of that matters if you can't go out there and play at a high level. You'll never be able to develop into the player, into your potential if you don't eliminate all that stuff as well. So my hope for Dwayne is to do that."

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