Red­skins’ re­ceiver Gar­con leads on and off the field.

Gar­con lead­ing Red­skins both on and off the field

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOMMY CHALK

Week in and week out, Wash­ing­ton Red­skins quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins con­sis­tently takes to the podium on Wed­nes­days and stresses that he doesn’t play fa­vorites with his tar­gets. When it comes to dis­tribut­ing the ball, he just “goes where his reads take him.”

But his reads seem to con­sis­tently take him to Pierre Garçon, the sure-handed vet­eran who has been the Red­skins’ clutch re­ceiver this sea­son.

Down 22-21 to the Philadelphia Ea­gles late in the fourth quar­ter, the Red­skins faced 4th and 1 on the Ea­gles’ 35. With just

2:59 left in the game, Wash­ing­ton had no choice but to go for it. But in­stead of grind­ing out a yard on the ground — as most teams would opt to do — Cousins sur­prised the Ea­gles with a quick six-yarder to Garçon. The drive would end with the game-win­ning, 25-yard Chris Thomp­son touch­down just two plays later.

Re­li­a­bil­ity has been the hall­mark of Garçon’s ten­ure in Wash­ing­ton. The nine-year vet con­tin­u­ously proves him­self on the field on game day, but

it’s ac­tu­ally in prac­tice where Garçon has built trust. Garçon is the un­equiv­o­cal leader of the re­ceiver corps.

“I think he is our most con­sis­tent player, quite frankly,” Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den said of Garçon. “The way he prac­tices also, he prac­tices ex­actly like he plays and it’s great for the young guys to see that, a vet­eran-type guy like that with a tal­ent that he has work as hard as he does on the prac­tice field. And it car­ries over to the game be­cause all the routes are the same and [Cousins] is very com­fort­able to throw to him be­cause he knows how he’s go­ing run them be­cause he runs them ev­ery day the same.”

Drafted in 2008 by the In­di­anapo­lis Colts, Garçon worked along­side Hall of Fame re­ceiver Marvin Har­ri­son, six-time Pro Bowler Reg­gie Wayne and sure­fire Hall of Famer Pey­ton Man­ning. Sur­rounded by elite vet­er­ans, Garçon soaked in ev­ery de­tail.

“All the prepa­ra­tion and stuff I got was from them,” Garçon said. “Those guys were very suc­cess­ful at the stuff they did. They were the per­fect peo­ple to watch to be­come suc­cess­ful. That’s def­i­nitely what I did, learn ev­ery­thing from them. And I still use it all now.”

“I think there was a standard of ex­cel­lence there that he knows no other way to do it,” Cousins said. “So he’s al­ways done it at that high level.”

That ex­cel­lence has trans­lated to on­field pro­duc­tion. This sea­son, Garçon has been tar­geted 93 times, more than any other Red­skins re­ceiver. His 64 catches also lead the Red­skins, and he’s picked up 773 yards on those re­cep­tions. That’s just four fewer yards than all of last sea­son.

Garçon, 30, works to prove he’s still got the speed and the moves to con­sis­tently beat the op­po­si­tion at this stage of his ca­reer.

“He’s a very ex­plo­sive ath­lete so there’s also some nat­u­ral abil­ity there that you can’t coach that when he does run his routes, he gets in and out of cuts in a very pow­er­ful, ex­plo­sive way that is unique to him,” Cousins said. “And pound-for-pound, he could be the most pow­er­ful, ex­plo­sive guy on the team with the ath­leti­cism that he has.”

“He is very ver­sa­tile in that way where he can give you a lot of dif­fer­ent routes in the pass game. He’s not one di­men­sional.”

Garçon is a role model for team­mates on and off the field. He was the Red­skins’ nom­i­nee for the Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year award, an honor given to the player in the NFL who meets high stan­dards on the field while also rep­re­sent­ing the NFL in the com­mu­nity.

Garçon started his own com­mu­nity ser­vice ef­fort, “Help­ing Hand,” as a rookie to help the needy. Ear­lier this sea­son, he flew to Haiti, just hours af­ter the Red­skins’ game against the Bal­ti­more Ravens, to bring med­i­cal sup­plies and water to the is­land af­ter Hur­ri­cane Matthew’s de­struc­tion.

He’s a fre­quent at­tendee at Red­skins’ spon­sored com­mu­nity events and a par­tic­i­pant in the NFL’s Play 60 pro­gram. He works with DC’s Boys & Girls Club, where he cre­ated The Pierre Garçon All-White Party, which has be­come the largest event in the spring pro­gram and has raised $400,000 for the club since its in­cep­tion in 2013.

Garçon has put down roots in Wash­ing­ton, the city he now calls home.

“I love it,” Garçon said. “D.C. is a great city where there’s al­ways en­ergy. They are al­ways happy about the Red­skins. It’s def­i­nitely one of those places that loves their foot­ball team, and there’s al­ways events go­ing on when my fam­ily and friends come to town.”

That just makes the bind the Red­skins will be in this off­sea­son all the more dif­fi­cult. With both Garçon and fel­low re­ceiver DeSean Jack­son be­com­ing free agents, there may only be room for one to re­turn next sea­son. Gen­eral man­ager Scot McCloughan will have to weigh his op­tions of what will be more of a ne­ces­sity for the Red­skins’ of­fense: a deep threat or the most re­li­able re­ceiver the Red­skins have.

That’s not a con­cern at the mo­ment. The top pri­or­ity at this time is to qual­ify for the play­offs, and Garçon will play a big role into whether or not that comes to fruition.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Red­skins’ Pierre Gar­con was the team’s nom­i­nee for the Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year award, an honor for the player who meets high stan­dards on the field while also rep­re­sent­ing the NFL in the com­mu­nity. “He prac­tices ex­actly like he plays and it’s great for the young guys to see that,” Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den said.

PAN­THERS AT RED­SKINS Mon­day: 8:30 p.m. TV: ESPN

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