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Nearly three full years into his career, the Redskins and Josh Doctson still can't get on the same page

Nearly three full years into his career, the Redskins and Josh Doctson still can't get on the same page

Josh Doctson will end 2018 with more catches than he had in 2017 and he needs just three more yards in the Redskins' season finale to surpass last year's total in that category, too.

However, when you look at the numbers — 42 grabs this season to go along with 499 receiving yards — you realize the growth from the 2016 first-rounder is much more marginal than major. 

On Sunday, one day after his team's difficult Week 16 loss vs. the Titans, Jay Gruden was asked to assess Doctson's campaign. At first, he focused on the positives.

"I think he's shown some improvement, yes," Gruden said. "I think he's fought through some injuries here the last couple of weeks... I really appreciate him fighting through the pain and trying to make some plays. I think he's shown more physicality at the receiver position, both in the running game and the passing game."

For someone whose rookie year was ruined by a mysterious Achilles injury, Doctson's durability has been a lot better since then. He played every game in 2017, has missed just one in 2018 and, like his coach explained, has persevered through a few issues to continue to take the field for the 7-8 'Skins.

Toughness questions surrounded No. 18 early on, but those are largely gone now. Yet as Gruden worked through his answer, he touched on something else that has consistently followed the receiver throughout his career.

"I still would like to get him more opportunities to make some plays on the ball down the field, and we've just got to continue to try and press that issue with our quarterbacks," Gruden said. "Having played three, four quarterbacks, sometimes it's hard for them to trust the fact that this guy does have a 42-inch vertical and you've got to get him some 50/50 opportunities."

The desire to get Doctson more opportunities, more chances on jump balls and more looks down the field is something Gruden brings up all the time. It's something that Kirk Cousins touched on when he was here, too, and you heard Alex Smith mention it while he was healthy.

Unfortunately, that desire has yet to translate to a week-in, week-out rhythm between the 26-year-old, his coach and his passers during his almost three-year tenure with Washington. He's never topped 90 yards in a game and his career high for grabs in a single contest is six, a figure he's reached just once.

As a sophomore in the NFL, he did haul in six touchdowns and orchestrated some very acrobatic highlights, using that vertical that Gruden is fond of. But he's only reached the end zone twice this season, his yards-per-catch is down almost 2.5 yards and he hasn't created as many dynamic, athletic snags.

Overall, in 32 appearances, he's compiled 79 catches for 1,067 yards and 8 TDs. Those are numbers he and the organization would like him to get to in one season, not over the course of three.

Of course, the lack of progression doesn't fall 100-percent on Doctson. The unbelievable rash of injuries to the Redskins' QBs has no doubt affected every WR's statline. Gruden, meanwhile, regrets not getting him more involved.

With all that being said, he too often disappears for long stretches, doesn't separate enough from DBs and has, so far, looked more like a decent third wideout as opposed to a strong No. 1 worth the 22nd overall pick the franchise invested in him.

So, all parties involved are about to enter the offseason again wondering how to fully unlock Doctson's talents. Everyone needs to be better come next September, or else 2019 could very well be his last in D.C.

"I think he can do a lot more, but I think the quarterbacks can give him a lot more looks," Gruden said. "Hopefully in the future that will happen."

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This incredible Chase Young jersey swap lit up Redskins Twitter. Here's how it was made

This incredible Chase Young jersey swap lit up Redskins Twitter. Here's how it was made

On Sunday, 17-year-old Thacher Groe tweeted a jersey swap featuring Chase Young in a Redskins uniform that immediately caught the attention of countless Washington fans. That's an idea that plenty of graphic designers and Photoshoppers have executed before him, of course, but the reason his stood out is, well, because it's absolutely tremendous. 

The final image is so remarkable, in fact, you almost have to remind yourself that it isn't real, and that Young isn't a member of the Burgundy and Gold yet.

Before getting to how Groe pulled the edit off, though, it's time for you to see it (and then stare at it, which is an inevitable response):

"This jersey swap took me around 6 hours to complete," he said after his post blew up. "This isn’t how long they usually take, but when I choose up-close images of players, I like to spend extra time on the little details such as reflections and stitching."

The only person with a higher approval rating among Redskins supporters than Groe is Ron Rivera. Users called him "brilliant" and dubbed him "elite." 

According to Groe, many people take on this kind of project by cutting out a jersey from a current player and then pasting that on the new one. That's the easier method.

He, on the other hand, prefers to "work on changing the colors and working with what already is there." That approach is much more involving, but it also produces masterpieces like the Young picture and this Cam Newton photo:

Together, those two creations have helped Groe double his social media following. 

"I think the combination of people loving jersey swaps as well as everyone being huddled up indoors on our phones were the perfect conditions for my sudden growth," he said.

The most difficult part of the project, Groe explained, was modifying the pass rusher's gloves. Turning them into Redskins gear "may be the hardest thing" he's ever done in four years of working with Photoshop. 

"Tedious," he said. "But definitely worth it."

The not-even-college-student got into graphic design after being hooked by the way the Madden displayed art for players and hopes to continue the passion well beyond school. No matter what his future holds, though, he's already achieved one miraculous thing in his career. 

He made a Redskins player look good in number 92. 

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Report: President Trump told pro sports commissioners he believes NFL season should start on time

Report: President Trump told pro sports commissioners he believes NFL season should start on time

During a conference call with 13 professional sports commissioners Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that he believes the 2020 NFL season should start as scheduled in September despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Trump also reportedly remarked that he would like to allow fans back into stadiums and arenas by August or September.

The president used the call as an opportunity to commend the commissioners for their response to the pandemic. On March 11, the NBA became the first American professional sports league to suspend play in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The NHL, which was less than a month out from the start of the playoffs, followed suit—as eventually did the MLS, ATP, WTA, PGA Tour, NASCAR and MLB spring training.

With the NFL still in the midst of its offseason, there remains hope that the 2020 season will begin on time. So far, the league has canceled its annual league meaning and delayed OTAs. The draft will be held as expected while teams make their selections remotely rather than in Las Vegas as originally planned. While many free-agent deals have yet to be finalized due to the inability for teams to conduct physicals, the NFL has yet to be affected as much as other major sports.

The season is set to begin Thursday, Sept. 10 with opening Sunday coming Sept. 13.

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