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Between Josh Doctson and the Redskins, are we really talking about practice?

Between Josh Doctson and the Redskins, are we really talking about practice?

Josh Doctson played 20 snaps in the Redskins season opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Ryan Grant logged nearly double as many snaps than the 2016 first-rounder. Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder each played about 30 more snaps than Doctson. 

The issue here is not about Doctson against Grant. The latter is a useful player for Washington, and Grant performed well against the Eagles. He's versatile across all three receiver spots, and gives great effort on special teams. Don't let Grant's playing time, and production, confuse the situation with Doctson. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden opened up on Monday about how little Doctson got used against the Eagles, and the answers weren't particularly reassuring. 

"I need to see him out here at practice, you know, on a consistent basis. He will make plays in practice," Gruden said. "The more plays he makes in practice, the more comfortable that Kirk will be, the more reps he is going to get and that is going to happen. It will happen."

RELATED: MISSING FROM THE WEEK ONE LOSS, JOSH DOCTSON

There's some good news there: Gruden expects Doctson to develop into the role he was drafted for. The rest of the coach's quote doesn't exactly spell a good situation though. 

As a rookie, Doctson missed basically the entire 2016 season. He dealt with Achilles injuries that the team's medical staff could not figure out. 

In training camp this season, Doctson looked great. He flashed skill and speed, meshed with precise route running and fluidity combined with elite body control. It was the total package for a few weeks. Then a hamstring injury popped up, and Doctson missed practice and preseason games

Things seemed okay until the hamstring injury flared up again prior to the third preseason game. Doctson was a late scratch for that contest, though after the game Gruden said had it been a regular season contest, his receiver could have played. 

Add it all up, and Doctson has missed a ton of practice time. Gruden maintains his wideout is healthy now though. 

"He is ready to go. I think it is something more that he has to perform and he has to play well to earn more playing time. You know, he hasn’t practiced a whole lot. Last year he didn’t practice a whole lot. This year, he has been in and out of the lineup a little bit," Gruden said. "I think once he establishes himself as an everyday player, he is going to get the reps and he is going to prove that he is one of our top receivers. He’ll get more and more reps as the season goes on without a doubt, but he has got to earn that right like everybody does."

Earn that right. Those words from Gruden stand out. 

When Doctson was on the field against Philadelphia, it didn't seem like Kirk Cousins even looked in his direction to throw. Cousins is well known for quickly advancing through his pass progressions, but Doctson seemed like an afterthought on Sunday. 

Some of that must come from a lack of work together in practice. 

Unfortunately, however, for Cousins, Gruden and the Redskins, Doctson can play. Whether or not he has given the practice performances, the tape is out there. As a senior at TCU in 2015 Doctson had more than 1,300 receiving yards in 10 games. The talent is real, and the Redskins could use it. That's why the organization drafted him 22nd overall in 2016. 

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Gruden's talk about practice could be camoflauge for something else. Doctson is not a guy who likes to talk, and some people might mistake that for moodiness. Gruden and Doctson joked during training camp about his proclivity to stay quiet, but maybe between missed practices and not speaking up, some coaches or players get the wrong vibe.  

Until Doctson produces on the field, the questions and mystery will continue to escalate. In the brief portions of practice the media gets to watch, it's not unusual to see Doctson putting in extra time stretching his legs between reps. Gruden maintains the player is healthy, and Doctson echoes the sentiment.

The coach's tone Sunday after the loss was slightly different than at Monday's press conference though. On Sunday, Gruden explained the light workload for Doctson like this, "We’re getting him back in there. We’re making sure he’s 100 percent healthy and ready to go, and can handle practice after practice, and game after game. We’ll give him more and more reps as the season progresses."

While the coach mentioned practice, he also brought up health in his postgame comments. By Monday, the focus had switched to just practice, and, certainly, the player's health and his availability for practice are comingled. 

The Redskins offense performed largely terribly against Philadelphia, and on paper, Doctson can help. 

RELATED: UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK ONE

It's only one game, and Redskins fans should not worry too much at this early stage of the season. If Doctson continues to see minimal playing time, and be outproduced by Brian Quick, the speculation will mount. 

Practice? Is this about practice? 

The Redskins listed Doctson as a full participant in practice all three days leading up to the Eagles game. 

Maybe those three days are not enough to make up for a lost rookie year and a number of missed sessions this training camp. Looking around the NFL, however, top players get on the field once they're able to. This weekend the Redskins will face the Rams, and by all accounts, star defensive tackle Aaron Donald. 

Donald held out all of training camp and just rejoined the team. His NFL track record is a mile long and quite impressive. Doctson's isn't. Still, Rams coach Sean McVay hinted that Donald will be back on the field as soon as possible, and that could mean this weekend. 

In pro football, assuming medical clearance, the best players need to be on the field. That should be the case for the Redskins too. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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In the span of six minutes, the Redskins' season went from hope to despair in New Orleans

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USA TODAY Sports

In the span of six minutes, the Redskins' season went from hope to despair in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS—The Redskins’ game against the Saints, and perhaps their whole season went from hope to despair in the span of just six minutes.

When Kirk Cousins threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, the Redskins were up by 15 points with 5:58 to play. Some Saints fans departed the Mercedes Benz Superdome, figuring that their team’s seven-game losing streak was about to end.

But Drew Brees and the Saints weren’t going anywhere. The Redskins defense was loose, to say the least, as the Hall of Fame quarterback completed seven of seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. The drive took just 3:05 and it seemed that the Saints barely broke a sweat.

RELATED: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE PAINFUL LOSS IN NEW ORLEANS

“We gave up too quick a score on the initial one,” said Jay Gruden.

But the Redskins were still in control of the game. After two Samaje Perine runs, the Saints were out of timeouts and Washington had third and one with 2:38 to go. The lined up and then called a timeout.

“We actually lined up with a tight end on the wrong side so we had to get that fixed up,” said Gruden.

It’s week 11 and the tight end can’t line up on the right side of the formation on a critical play. Perhaps they should be beyond these issues by now?

Even with the tight end properly aligned, the play had no chance as Perine tried to go off the right side and he was hit for a one-yard loss. The clock wound down to the two-minute warning and Tress Way boomed a 54-yard punt that was fair caught at the Saints 13. The Redskins had to defend 87 yards of turf for 1:53. They couldn’t do it.

Brees again took on the role of the hot knife and the Redskins still were the butter. Four for four passing, each throw gaining 17 yards or more. The touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara and the two-point conversion tied the game at 31-31.

When asked what happened, linebacker and former Saint Junior Galette said that while he respects Brees and the Saints, this one was on the defense.

“In two minute, he’s one of the best I’ve seen but still we’ve got to bow down and tighten our defense up,” he said.

“They’re a really good team but I honestly feel that we beat ourselves today,” said Galette. “It’s a really good team, one of the better teams we’ve played all year but if you watch that game you know we beat ourselves.”

Safety D.J. Swearinger echoed Galette’s viewpoint.

RELATED: THIS REDSKINS' LOSS LITERALLY DEFIED THE ODDS

“They came back and beat us fair and square,” he said. “But at the end of the day we didn’t do our job. We beat ourselves for sure. We for sure beat ourselves.”

In case there was any doubt about it, Swearinger then said that they beat themselves twice more in the next sentences.

The good part of the Saints drive was that it consumed just 48 seconds, leaving the Redskins with 1:05 to try to get a winning field goal. Cousins threw three passes to Jamison Crowder and all of a sudden the Redskins were on the New Orleans 34, close enough to at least attempt a game winning field goal.

But then it fell apart. With 31 seconds left, Cousins took a snap from behind center and immediately threw the ball out of bounds on the right side with no receiver nearby. The officials conferred and dropped a flag for intentional grounding.

The flag never should have been thrown because the rule says that the quarterback must be in imminent danger of getting sacked. Cousins was not. But the way the play went down it certainly gave referee Walt Coleman the opportunity to make a mistake and you never want to do that.

The explanations for the throw offered by the coach and quarterback were somewhat confusing and didn’t really line up. But for the record, here is the gist of what each of them said:

Gruden: “I was trying to get his [Cousins’] attention and hand signal a bubble screen out there. If we get it out there and get it out of bounds, we get another play called. Unfortunately, Jamison didn’t get it.”

Cousins: “I looked over to the sideline out of the corner of my eye and I just saw the coaches saying, ‘throw it’. They wanted potentially an audible, get to an actual pass play. I thought they were saying throw it to Jamison, in the general area of Jamison, there was an eligible in the area and there’s no penalty.”

There is little point into going into the minutia of what they said. There seems to have been some confusion in the loud Superdome and perhaps Gruden will clarify it in his Monday press conference.

Again, it should not have been grounding but you can’t give them a chance to make that mistake.

And the Redskins still had 18 seconds (after a 10-second runoff that perhaps should not have happened) to try to get back the 10 yards and maybe a few more to get a shot at a field goal. But he was sacked (the Saints’ first sack of the day) and he fumbled. Morgan Moses recovered but the clock ran out.

Although they had a 10-minute overtime, it felt like it was over and it soon was. The Redskins went three and out. Brees didn’t even have to drop back to pass as runs of 20 and 31 yards set up the field goal that applied the final gut punch.

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

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Stop talking about Jay Gruden's job. Just stop

Stop talking about Jay Gruden's job. Just stop

NEW ORLEANS - Jay Gruden and the Redskins choked away a terrific opportunity for a much needed win on Sunday. They collapsed. Disappeared. Crumbled. Crumpled. Caved in. 

Whatever word you choose, the result was terrible. Washington held a 31-16 lead with less than five minutes remaining. That score should absolutely result in a Redskins victory. Only it didn't.

Gruden deserves plenty of blame for the loss, as does the Redskins defense that gave up back to back late touchdowns to allow Drew Brees and the Saints to come all the way back. The offense also couldn't get a yard, one yard, when they needed it, for the second time in two weeks. There's lots of blame to go around, and deservedly. 

But, stop talking about Gruden's future with the Redskins. 

Just stop. 

MORE: KIRK COUSINS GIVES HIS SIDE OF THE INTENTIONAL GROUNDING

He's not going anywhere. The loss in New Orleans drops the Redskins record to 4-6, and very likely, eliminates Washington from the playoff picture. With a favorable schedule remaining, it's possible the Redskins could win out, but that would be a tall order. A finish around 8-8 seems most likely.

So, the naysayers will shout, why does Gruden get to stay? Let's count the reasons:

  • For starters, the Redskins just signed Gruden to a two-year contract extension in the offseason. That means he's under contract through 2020. Gruden makes roughly $5 million a year, and to get rid of him would cost the organization eight figures. Not gonna happen.
  • Beyond the money and the contract, Gruden has been good. The Redskins were awful when he arrived, going 3-13 in 2013. Awful. And the team has had steady improvement under Gruden. They won the NFC East in 2015, narrowly missed a playoff spot in 2016, and this year, when healthy, competed with the best teams in the NFL.
  • This year's Redskins team is wildly beat up. The defense lost three starters before the first snap of the year, and the offense just lost their best player when Chris Thompson broke his leg against the Saints. 
  • Gruden is also getting better, and more competent. The coach overhauled his defensive staff this offseason, and the team has responded. He has a growing role in scouting and personnel, and largely, the results are working.  

It's easy to be upset after a colossal sinkhole of a game like what happened in New Orleans. Gruden needs to be better. He knows it.

"It's terrible," Gruden said after the game, correctly. "We laid it all out on the line. We came out to a hostile environment against a team that has won seven in a row. You don't get anything for close."

Remember, however, that Jay Gruden has brought the Redskins from terrible to good. Crazed fans that want him gone need to remind themselves of that.

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