RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on Friday, August 3, six days before the Washington Redskins open up their preseason at New England.
The wide receiver competition is wide open during training camp. Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Brian Quick, and Trey Quinn are the primary contenders for the last three, or maybe two, wide receiver roster spots. They all have their strengths—Davis is big and athletic, Harris has a knack for making the spectacular catch, Quick has the experience of six years in the league and the rookie Quinn has solid hands and he is a good route runner.
However, the receivers who will be successful in claiming roster spots will have one thing in common—special teams. Jay Gruden laid it out earlier this week.
“You know, if one guy can stand out on special teams then that’s your fourth [WR]—period,” he said. “You know we understand that we have to improve on special teams instead of just saying that on the podium or in meeting rooms we’re gonna have to commit to it by maybe keeping somebody that is better on special teams, but maybe not quite as polished at receiver.”
So there you have it. A receiver could look good catching the ball here in training camp and put up some impressive preseason stats and still not make the team if another receiver who still needs some work is catching passes.
This line of thinking could extend to decisions on the game-day active list as well. If they do keep six receivers one of them is likely to be inactive for games. The better pass catcher could be watching the game in sweats while the better special teams player is in uniform and playing 20 or so special teams snaps.
Gruden is right about the need for the Redskins to improve on special teams. Per Football Outsiders they were 22nd in special teams DVOA last year. Many who watched every game may wonder how they ranked that high. They did have problems with injuries as backups replaced injured starters and players further down the depth chart or others who had been signed off of the street had to take on the special teams roles. Still, you have to strike the right balance and make sure that special teams coach Ben Kotwica has some talented players to work with.
Wide receiver is not the only position group where special teams will be a factor. Roster spots at running back, linebacker, and safety will be determined in part by both the ability and the enthusiasm for participating on kicking plays.
The Redskins ranked in the top half of the league in special teams DVOA in 2015 (6th) and 2016 (13th). They were in the bottom 10 last year and in 2012-2014.
On the record
Jay Gruden was asked if Derrius Guice’s reputation for playing video games a lot affected their evaluation of him: “Video games? If I graded somebody now because of video games, I probably wouldn’t have a football team out here. I think everybody plays video games [in] this day and age . . . So, Derrius is probably most known for it for some reason but that had no bearing whatsoever on us taking him or not taking him."
Comment: I have to say that I’m not big on video games but “anonymous scouts” and others need to stop worrying about them having an effect on players. Fill in this blank: If a player is playing video games at night he could be _________. Sure, you could fill that in with reviewing film. The more realistic answer is that he could be out hitting the clubs. Just stop worrying about it.
Today: Off day
Upcoming: Preseason opener Redskins @ Patriots (Aug. 9) 6 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 29 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 37 days
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Another medical procedure for Josh Doctson. @BMitchliveNBCS dropped all the details on Redskins 💯. pic.twitter.com/Xiw4m4d3B0— NBC Sports Redskins (@NBCSRedskins) August 2, 2018
Funny how your teammates run when they know you're wearing a wire.— NBC Sports Redskins (@NBCSRedskins) August 2, 2018
Check out Mason Foster's FULL Mic'd Up segment here: https://t.co/hisJdvI6A4 pic.twitter.com/5rNuzxaXGd
A good little clip of an excellent series. Check the site to see them all.
In case you missed it
- Is Rob Kelley a lock to make the Redskins' 53-man roster?
- 2019 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Defensive line domination
- Redskins training camp practice report, Day 7
- Top ILB spots are locks but then question marks
- The Jets will handle Redskins cheap shots, per Terrelle Pryor
- Brian Mitchell reveals Josh Doctson had his heel drained
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler.