ASHBURN - Redskins head coach Jay Gruden joked that Monday marked the first time the organization saw first-round rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson wearing shoulder pads. Ever. Doctson's prolonged absence - three months - due to an Achilles injury kept the rookie out of training camp and all preseason action.
That has changed now as Doctson took part in practice, and sounded an interesting blend of encouraged to be back on the field though apprehensive to play after such a long period away.
First came the encouragement: "It felt good, it's been three months," Doctson said. "It's always good to come back out there and play football with my teammates."
Then the apprehension: "I'm rusty, obviously, three months not being able to run," Doctson said.
Considering the elongated period of time he missed, Doctson explained that his focus is on practicing every day and being a playmaker, not neccessarily playing against Pittsburgh in a week.
"I'm not going to step foot on Monday night or put the uniform on, run out there and get myself embarrassed," Docston said. "We got guys Pierre [Garçon], [DeSean] Jackson, [Jamison] Crowder, [Jordan] Reed, we got guys who are going to get it done. If somebody gets tired, [I can] go in there and help out."
Doctson did not rule himself out for the Steelers game, but made clear he needs to perform on the practice field before he can consider game action.
"That's just who I am - I feel guilty going out there and playing without practicing. I just got to practice," he said. "I got to get some reps under my belt."
Needing to get back in the "feel" and "rythym" of the game, Doctson explained that when he can make plays in practice means he's ready to be the player he showed last season at TCU. Asked when he will know - Doctson said it's just a feeling.
"Making plays out here in practice. That's my biggest thing - I got to make plays out here before I can make them on Sunday or Monday."
Fans, and coaches, will want to see Doctson making plays in games for the 'Skins soon. For the player, though, he's managing his expectations.
"My expectations right now are just to get back to a feel for the game. It's been three months," he said. "Coming in playing receiver as a rookie, going against guys like [Josh] Norman and [Bashaud] Breeland, I got to get back in the mix and back in the rhythm."