Depth at re­ceiver could lead to tough de­ci­sions for Red­skins.

Ver­sa­til­ity, per­for­mance key to mak­ing roster

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY NORA PRINCIOTTI

ASHBURN | The Red­skins’ most notable free agent de­par­tures were both wide re­ceivers, yet the team still feels it has what amounts to a high-class prob­lem at the po­si­tion.

“If we played to­mor­row, we could only dress five, it would be a re­ally, re­ally hard de­ci­sion right now,” coach Jay Gru­den said.

Luck­ily for Gru­den, the Red­skins don’t play to­mor­row, or for an­other three months. They’ll use that time to fig­ure out which of the wide re­ceivers cur­rently on the 90-man roster will make the team.

“Spe­cial teams will be­come part of that, ob­vi­ously, but we have got great op­tions right now,” Gru­den said. “And it’s a mat­ter of keep­ing them healthy and giv­ing them all op­por­tu­ni­ties from now un­til the fourth pre­sea­son game after train­ing camp and see­ing who the best ones are, who makes the most plays.”

As­sum­ing health, Jami­son Crow­der should be a roster lock and a starter. The Red­skins do not just see him as a slot re­ceiver, he can play out­side as well and move in­side in three-re­ceiver sets be­cause of his route ver­sa­til­ity. Crow­der was Kirk Cousins’

fa­vorite tar­get last Wed­nes­day dur­ing the prac­tice ses­sion open to the me­dia.

Free-agent ac­qui­si­tion Ter­relle Pryor Sr. seems like the best guess to start op­po­site Crow­der. The Red­skins think he’s just as fast as DeSean Jack­son, and have been throw­ing him a lot of deep balls in the prac­tices. Part of that is to help Cousins’ tim­ing with Pryor, whose long strides cover ground de­cep­tively quickly. The Red­skins gave Pryor $6 mil­lion guar­an­teed to play this sea­son.

Josh Doct­son raised some eye­brows when he was held out of team drills last Wed­nes­day, but Gru­den said it had noth­ing to do with the Achilles in­juries that limited Doct­son to two games last sea­son. The week be­fore, Doct­son looked good in prac­tice work­ing with the first team. If he stays healthy, he’s prob­a­bly the No. 3 re­ceiver.

Ryan Grant moved up to the first team Wed­nes­day when Doct­son sat out, and Gru­den said that he “is do­ing a much bet­ter job” with his tim­ing. That’s not the first bit of praise he’s di­rected Grant’s way, but the fourth-year pro will still face ques­tions about in-sea­son pro­duc­tion no mat­ter how much he shines dur­ing the summer.

The Red­skins’ other free agent wide re­ceiver ac­qui­si­tion, Brian Quick, did not get much guar­an­teed money: just $80,000 as part of a deal worth up to $855,000, mak­ing fi­nances a (very) mi­nor con­sid­er­a­tion in whether or not he gets a roster spot. Quick was the sub­ject of the ques­tion that led Gru­den to ex­pand on Wash­ing­ton’s re­ceiver depth.

Quick is one of the more in­ter­est­ing cases. He’s a former sec­ond-round pick in 2012 and com­ing off a 564-yard, three­touch­down sea­son with the Rams. That was his only pro­duc­tive sea­son as a pro, so he’s still a bit of an un­known quan­tity and has a lot to prove.

“It’s just a mat­ter of get­ting him on the field and find­ing out what he is good at,” Gru­den said, after not­ing an end zone catch Quick made last Tuesday on a fade. “He can run, he is big, he is phys­i­cal. [He’s] got to learn who to block in the run­ning game, which he is do­ing a good job of that, and just con­tinue to work and find a way to fit in.”

Then there’s Mau­rice Har­ris. Har­ris’ size (he’s 6-3) isn’t as much of an as­set on a team that has plenty of it, but phys­i­cal­ity could help him con­trib­ute on spe­cial teams which, as Gru­den said, will be im­por­tant.

Sixth-round draft pick Robert Davis also has valu­able at­tributes for a spe­cial teamer: a 4.44 40-yard dash and 6-3 size. After the draft, Gru­den said he was one of the more in­trigu­ing picks who could sur­prise peo­ple.

Davis came to the Red­skins from Ge­or­gia State in the Sun Belt Con­fer­ence, so play­ing in the NFL will be a big step up and re­quire de­vel­op­ment. If the Red­skins like his qual­i­ties enough, though, they could de­cide it’s worth keep­ing him as near as pos­si­ble.

Those seven play­ers are the most likely can­di­dates to fac­tor into the Red­skins’ plans, though there are five more re­ceivers cur­rently on the roster: Matt Hazel, Lev­ern Ja­cobs, Zach Pas­cal, Ken­dal Thomp­son, who is out of prac­tice with a mi­nor in­jury, and James Quick. They’re all long shots, but they have some time to work with be­fore de­ci­sions must be made.


Red­skins re­ceiver Jami­son Crow­der can­not only catch in the slot, but his route ver­sa­til­ity lets him move out­side and in­side on three-re­ceiver sets.

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