Gar­con hopes to be key cog in a re­turn to win­ning ways

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY RICH CAMP­BELL

The chance to play with Robert Grif­fin III wasn’t what at­tracted Pierre Gar­con to the Washington Red­skins dur­ing the first hour of free agency Tues­day. If he was set on team­ing with a top quar­ter­back prospect, he could have just re-signed with the In­di­anapo­lis Colts, who are po­si­tioned ahead of Washington to draft Grif­fin or An­drew Luck.

No, the Red­skins won Gar­con over with some­thing else.

“They expressed a lot of in­ter­est in me,” Gar­con said in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day. “They were the first to reach out to me. They wanted a re­ceiver. They wanted me to help them try to win more games, and that’s what I want to be a part of.”

Washington’s in­ter­est ma­te­ri­al­ized in the form of a five-year, $42.5 mil­lion con­tract that in­cludes $20.5 mil­lion guar­an­teed. And dol­lars usu­ally are what fu­els move­ment dur­ing the free agency pe­riod.

Now the Red­skins have a new start­ing split end to go with which­ever quar­ter­back they draft sec­ond over­all. And while that wasn’t the main sell­ing point for Gar­con, it bright­ens his out­look in join­ing a team com­ing off four con­sec­u­tive last­place fin­ishes.

“Hav­ing a new quar­ter­back and grow­ing to­gether is a good thing,” Gar­con said. “We’ll be his

first re­ceivers in the NFL. He doesn’t know you. We’ll get to grow to­gether and teach each other things and have suc­cess to­gether.”

Gar­con will be tempted, how­ever, to com­pare the rookie to the quar­ter­back with whom he broke into the league in In­di­anapo­lis.

“Hav­ing a quar­ter­back like Pey­ton Man­ning, that kind of makes ev­ery­body else look that much worse be­cause he’s such a great quar­ter­back,” Gar­con said with a laugh. “He knows ev­ery­thing and does ev­ery­thing well.”

Gar­con in 2011 showed he can be a threat with­out Man­ning at quar­ter­back. In fact, the Colts’ quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion last sea­son was the op­po­site of what the fu­ture Hall of Famer brought to the team for 13 sea­sons, as Gar­con was catch­ing passes from Cur­tis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins.

In his fourth NFL sea­son, Gar­con, 25, still posted ca­reer highs of 70 catches and 947 yards. He also dropped fewer passes than in past years and, as a re­sult, sep­a­rated him­self from that el­e­ment of his rep­u­ta­tion.

“I im­proved in all ar­eas — catch­ing the ball, run­ning good routes, read­ing de­fenses, yards af­ter the catch, work­ing on quick­ness,” he said. “At the end of the day, the whole thing has to be good, not just one part of your game.”

Gar­con and fel­low free-agent re­ceiver Josh Mor­gan signed their Red­skins con­tracts Wed­nes­day. They met with the coach­ing staff and dis­cussed what all par­ties hope will be a bright fu­ture.

Coach Mike Shana­han and of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Kyle Shana­han im­pressed Gar­con with their pas­sion for the sport.

“Those guys are straight shoot­ers,” he said. “They tell you what they want and what we’re go­ing to do. They’re foot­ball guys. They come from it, they’ve grown in it, and it’s in their blood.

“I want to help them get to the promised land and beat the odds. They were re­ally in­ter­ested in me, and they have the same plans I do — win­ning.”

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