Redskins

New receivers catch on quickly for No. 14 Sooners

201211172329845915027-p2.jpeg

New receivers catch on quickly for No. 14 Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) As training camp began at Oklahoma, quarterback Landry Jones had only one receiver present who had ever caught one of his passes before in a game.

That hasn't kept one of the NCAA's most productive passers ever from another prolific season.

Plugging transfers and freshmen into the lineup, the 14th-ranked Sooners (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) are averaging 334 yards passing. That puts them eighth in the nation, even though four other teams from the pass-happy Big 12 are in front of them.

That includes No. 22 Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2), the Sooners' opponent this Saturday in the Bedlam rivalry game.

Junior Kenny Stills was the only returning receiver available after All-American Ryan Broyles departed for the NFL and coach Bob Stoops suspended three others - Kameel Jackson, Trey Franks and Jaz Reynolds. Jackson decided to transfer, but questions about when the others might return from suspension have faded away as their replacements have made them afterthoughts.

Senior Justin Brown filled one hole with a veteran, transferring in from Penn State shortly after training camp began. Jalen Saunders, Fresno State's top receiver last season, was declared eligible by the NCAA just before the Red River Rivalry game against Texas in October and immediately claimed a starting role in the slot. Freshmen Sterling Shepard, Trey Metoyer and Durron Neal have also chipped in from time to time.

``I'm so pleased about them. When you look at that group starting the year, it was one of the biggest question marks in the conference, and now they're a strong, good group,'' Stoops said. ``And what's helped now is Landry is comfortable with all of them, so he can just go through his reads and not have to force the ball to one particular guy.''

On Saturday night, Jones set a school record with 554 yards passing in a wild 50-49 win at West Virginia. Stills caught four of Jones' six touchdown passes, the most ever by an Oklahoma wide receiver. Brown, Stills, Shepard and Saunders each had at least 90 yards receiving.

Running back Damien Williams, another new addition who transferred in from junior college, caught six passes for 71 yards.

``Whenever you can get that many passing yards in a game, that's big. That just shows that when you go out and you do things well, you stay disciplined and you execute, that's what can happen,'' Brown said.

Jones' passing numbers have risen over the course of the season as he has grown more familiar with his new receiving options, with a big boost coming after the addition of Saunders led to heavier usage of a four-receiver set.

Oklahoma is averaging 374.5 yards passing over the past six games - 100 more than during the first four.

``I just think that comes from playing games. You have to be in critical situations and have success before guys really trust each other,'' co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jay Norvell said.

``Shep's made a bunch of big plays. Justin has now and Jalen certainly has made some in recent weeks, so there's no reason for him not to feel good about throwing the ball to those guys. I just think that there's a level of confidence that we didn't have earlier in the year just because of familiarity.''

The shootout with West Virginia was Jones' 11th game with at least 400 yards passing. There have been just four others in Oklahoma history. He ranks fourth - behind only Houston's Case Keenum, Hawaii's Timmy Chang and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell - in Division I history with 15,624 yards passing in his career.

Norvell said he believes Jones developed an understanding of how each receiver runs his routes during practice, but the real trust comes when they make plays in crunch time of a game.

``I think those guys have grown a lot in the way they've played as the way they've prepared and how hard they've worked,'' Jones said. ``I can't say enough about how much we've progressed as an offense with those guys and how explosive and how many plays we've made because of who they are.''

---

AP freelance writer Murray Evans contributed to this report.

Quick Links

RB roster battle is fun to watch, but injuries will force tough decisions

usatsi_10891862.jpg
USA Today Sports

RB roster battle is fun to watch, but injuries will force tough decisions

Too much attention gets paid to roster construction during training camp. Projecting the 53-man roster has become its own August cottage industry, much like Bracketology flourishes in March.

The truth of the matter is regardless of projections, more than anything else, injuries dictate what players ultimately land on the Week 1 roster. 

Right now, that is apparent with the Redskins' running back position. Derrius Guice headlined the group after Washington grabbed him in the second round of April's NFL Draft. After injuring his knee in the first preseason game, however, Guice won't play in 2018. 

That means the other five guys battling for a spot now move up in the pecking order. Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson will make the team, even though Thompson is yet to play in the preseason and is still battling back from a broken leg last November. 

Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall, and Kapri Bibbs played with the 'Skins last season and were locked in a tense battle for spots. Then, Perine and Marshall got hurt Thursday night. Perine is expected to miss a week, while Marshall could miss up to four weeks. 

Can both Perine and Marshall still make the Redskins 53-man roster? 

Of course. 

Is that a certainty? Definitely not. 

Bibbs gets a major opportunity now, and he has looked good so far in camp and preseason games. Additionally, for Bibbs, it often gets lost that he actually played well in Washington last season. In three games he had more than 200 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. 

If Marshall truly needs a month to get his lower leg injury settled, that won't be until after the deadline to trim rosters. The Redskins could move him to the injured reserve list before then, but that would mean Marshall would not be eligible to play for the Burgundy and Gold until Week 7. Also, the team only gets two moves off of IR for the season. Would they want to use one on their fourth running back?

Perine's injury situation seems less severe, and barring a setback or further injury, he will be on the roster. 

That means Thompson, Kelley, Perine, and Bibbs. Maybe Marshall too, but that will be determined by his rehab schedule. 

Martez Carter made impressive runs against the Jets, and while it seems easy to dismiss his roster candidacy, remember Rob Kelley was an undrafted free agent out of a small Louisiana school just a few years ago.

Complicating matters is the reality that Washington's front office is absolutely going to be watching what other NFL teams do at roster cut time. Other running backs could emerge, especially from teams like Detroit that already have a crowded running back room and added more players via the draft. 

Coaches like to say competition on the field is what makes roster decisions. And yes, that's a big part of it. The violent nature of the NFL, the ultimate Next Man Up league, plays a huge factor as well. 

Trimming a roster because of injuries doesn't mean there aren't mistakes made. It sure looks like Washington screwed up last year by cutting QB Nate Sudfeld, even though the team felt compelled to keep extra offensive linemen. 

It might be trite, but the NFL is a long, grueling season. The Redskins know that. The team lost more players to injury than any other NFL squad last season. 

So when looking at 53-man roster projections, know there are two more preseason games left, and sad but likely, more injuries to come. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

SPREAD THE WEALTH: 'SKINS FINE WITHOUT A TOP W.R.?

BATTLE IT OUT: R.B. IS A SPOT TO WATCH

#REDSKINSTALK PODCAST

Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—The brawl, the flinch, and following the money

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—The brawl, the flinch, and following the money

Here is what you need to know on Saturday, August 17, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

The Redskins week that was: A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskinsand NBC Sports Washington.

The 'Skins and Jets got into a brawl an hour into practice—I was about 10 yards away from where the fight took place, but I was only a few yards from where Morgan Moses hit the ground after taking what the Redskins interpreted to be a cheap shot. I can attest that the earth moves when Moses hits the ground. As to the dustup itself, I wouldn’t have cared at all if it had taken place in the middle of the field. But the fight spilling over into the spectator area made it a very dangerous incident. They need to do better. 

Redskins release CB Orlando Scandrick—When an out-of-the-blue move like this takes place, follow the money. If Scandrick had sustained an injury during the preseason that was serious enough to put him on injured reserve, the Redskins would have been on the hook for his entire 2018 salary of $1.72 million. In addition, his salary would become fully guaranteed if he had been on the roster in Week 1. The Redskins decided to cut their losses, which was his signing bonus of a cool $1 million. 

How Davis' injury affects the Redskins' WR depth chart—Robert Davis was not a lock to make the Redskins’ roster, but he certainly was a contender. But that all changed in an instant a week ago when he got tangled up with cornerback Danny Johnson during practice. Johnson bounced right up, Davis did not, having sustained a broken leg and knee ligament damage. Davis spent most of last year on the practice squad so this will be a second straight season without game action for the 2017 sixth-round pick. 

Redskins starters training camp one-liners, offense—You hear plenty of talk about the backups and bubble players during training camp and often the front-line players get overlooked. So there is your look at how the offensive starters fared in camp, one-liners style. You can find the defense here

Tweet of the week

We didn’t expect him to say anything but we had to ask Terrelle Pryor if he had any comment after the “flinching” incident with D.J. Swearinger. This was all he was willing to say as he jogged towards the locker room with a smile on his face. 

It would be inaccurate to say that Pryor is a polarizing figure among Redskins fans because that would mean that he had an equal number of supporters and detractors. It’s pretty much all haters. And it’s probably not fair.

From my point of view, I don’t have a problem with Pryor. He was always a stand-up guy when dealing with us. And while he was a free agent bust with the Redskins he didn’t cost a ton of money. Besides, he is hardly unique in that regard. 

The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 2; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:30

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 6 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 14 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 22 days

In case you missed it

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler