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Redskins' Josh Doctson getting more playing time but breakout performance elusive

Redskins' Josh Doctson getting more playing time but breakout performance elusive

Earlier this season there was a lot of concern that Josh Doctson wasn’t getting enough playing time to be successful. It started in the season opener against the Eagles when he played just 20 of 63 snaps. The following week against the Rams he was in for 29 of 71 offensive plays.

The light playing time load continued through the first five games of the season as he played 121 of 326 snaps, 37.1 percent. In those games, he had a total of nine targets and four receptions. That’s not per game, that’s total.

Doctson made the most of his chances, averaging 22.5 yards per catch with two touchdowns. But many wondered if the team was wasting the talent of its 2016 first-round draft pick by having him languish on the bench.


The issue was that Doctson and Terrelle Pryor, a much-hyped free agent acquisition, both were best at the X wide receiver spot. It was hard to get them on the field at the same time. Early in the year, the decision was made to give more run to Pryor. In the first five games, Pryor played 81.6 percent of the plays.

But Pryor’s production was not impressive. He averaged three receptions and 42 yards per game in those five games. In the Redskins’ sixth game, the roles of Doctson and Pryor essentially were reversed. On Monday night against the Eagles, Doctson played 54 of the 64 snaps and Pryor played just 30. In his last four games before going on injured reserve, Pryor played 112 of 261 plays (42.9 percent).

Meanwhile, Doctson’s playing time increased. In the Redskins’ last 10 games, he has played 580 of 629 snaps, 92.2 percent. He has played every offensive play in three games and he missed just one snap in another.

But he has yet to have his breakout game. He has had some good games, like getting four receptions for 81 yards against the Saints. Doctson has had some highlight reel moments like the spectacular catch to set up the winning touchdown in Seattle. But his “wow” moments have been few and far between. He has no more than four receptions in any game. The 81 yards in New Orleans is his season high.


With one game to go, it looks like Doctson’s second season will have to be chalked up as an educational experience.

“I think he’s learning the game,” said Jay Gruden. “He’s learning what the NFL’s all about from a preparation standpoint and from a different route tree standpoint. We all know that he can go vertical and outjump people and it’s a matter of getting him more opportunities in that regard, but it’s also about cleaning up his routes on every given split, every pattern that we have, every concept that we have.”

Hopefully, Doctson was spending his time on the field cleaning up the routes in every concept. The Redskins will need him to be at the top of his game in 2018 whether Kirk Cousins returns as the QB or, especially, if a new signal caller has to be installed.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it