The Redskins have been missing DeSean Jackson since he pulled a hamstring early in the first game of the season. The second-fastest receiver on the team is first-year player Rashad Ross, who virtually forced his way onto the roster with a stellar performance in training camp and in preseason games.
But it doesn’t appear that Ross was slated to be the proverbial “next man up” on offense. He has been active all four games since the opener but he has played just 44 snaps. Kirk Cousins targeted him five times. The two hooked up for a 43-yard deep pass against the Eagles and last Sunday in Atlanta Ross set up a short touchdown run by drawing a 42-yard pass interference call. Those are some productive plays in very limited opportunities.
So will the Redskins think about giving him more opportunities?
"Yeah, there is a thought,” said Jay Gruden when asked about the possibility of increasing Ross’ snap count. “It's just who do you take out? Pierre [Garçon] or you take out [Jamison] Crowder or do you take out Ryan [Grant] and DeSean [Jackson] will be back here pretty soon I hope. But yeah, he's slowly starting to emerge as a deep threat and a good, solid receiver. But there's more to being a receiver than just running a deep ball. You know, he's got to get better at the little things – the blocking, where to line up and all those things – and he is. It's a good luxury to have, another receiver that can really run and go get it. He's got that extra gear that probably nobody else has other than DeSean. So, we probably should use him a little bit more in the deep stuff."
The other issue preventing Ross from seeing the field more is that he knows just one receiver position, the X. That happens to be Garçon’s spot and he is going to play about 80 percent of the snaps.
Is Ross confident that he could get the job done if he lined up at a spot other than the X?
“I feel like I can do anything but I’m more comfortable at the X position,” he said.
That sure sounded like a “no”.
“It takes time to learn,” said Ross. “Especially when you’re just learning one [position] and going in at one.”
It appears that there is a pretty good chance that Jackson will play this week and Ross’ chance to play a key role could be gone, at least for now. Like most young backup players, he will have to wait, work, and learn until his next opportunity comes along.