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Redskins WR Maurice Harris and his magic hands prepare for all scenarios

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Redskins WR Maurice Harris and his magic hands prepare for all scenarios

Extra homework put Maurice Harris in the NFL and helped turn him into the Washington Redskins’ most versatile wide receiver. The 6-foot-3 target is coming off the best game of his professional career, and recognizes a higher force lent a hand.

The third-year receiver hauled in 10 receptions on 12 targets in the Redskins’ Week 9 loss. He led Washington with 124 yards against the Falcons after never reaching 100 yards overall in either of his two seasons. Partly because the Redskins lost 38-14 and mostly due to his humble nature, Harris downplayed the performance.

When it came to praising the primary tools of his trade, Harris looked down at his blessed mitts and smiled.

“God just blessed me with good hands and the ability to catch,” he told NBC Sports Washington following Wednesday’s practice. 

No extra credit is awarded for degree of difficulty. Bummer considering the frequency of his highlight-reel worthy receptions. Harris’s one-handed touchdown catch in his first game up from the practice squad in 2017 was arguably the team’s grab of the year. Let Harris get even a little finger on a thrown football, and the magic begins.

“Probably some of the best set of hands I’ve seen on a receiver,” receiver-turned-cornerback Quinton Dunbar told NBC Sports Washington about Harris. “Some guys just have them hands that catch everything. He’s definitely one of those guys that just catches everything that touches his hands.”

The trickiest part for Harris involved opportunity. Despite his impressive hands, size and vertical leap, it’s been a slow rise up through the Redskins depth chart.

He began offseason activities part of the uncertain mass behind Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson. Harris quickly broke from the pack during the summer in part because of his ability to play all three wide receiver positions. Then a concussion sidelined him through much of the preseason and the first two games of the regular season. His first catch came in Week 5. Entering Sunday, his stat line read 11 receptions for 102 yards. He virtually doubled those numbers against the Falcons.

“Mo has always been a consistent player for us,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Not the fastest guy in the world, but he runs excellent routes. He's a quarterback-friendly guy. Knows how to work in zone. [Has] the quickness to separate man-to-man, so he's a great option for us right now."

That ability to play all over the field helps Washington’s current situation. Harris filled in for Crowder in recent weeks as the slot receiver recovers from an ankle injury. With Richardson (shoulder surgery) landing on injured reserve this week, Harris likely inherits the outside Z-receiver role. That’s assuming Crowder goes Sunday at Tampa Bay. Otherwise, Gruden might keep Harris inside.

Harris must prepare for both scenarios. He’ll do that and study up on Josh Doctson's “X” role just in case. This detailed work helped put the undrafted free agent in the league

“I just try to know everything. Be available for any spot,” Harris told NBC Sports Washington. “Whenever we install (a weekly game plan) I try to learn every position, so I have that availability.”

Some suggest the best ability for an NFL player is availability. With injuries wrecking Washington’s offense including their skill position players, an opportunity exists for Harris to carve out a steady role. He took advantage last week. The next chance comes against the league’s 30th ranked pass defense. Harris doesn't know where he’ll line up. Whether inside or outside, he and his magic hands will be ready.


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Trent Williams was definitely not playing Sunday against Houston, but now he might

Trent Williams was definitely not playing Sunday against Houston, but now he might

On Wednesday, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams would not play on Sunday against the Texans. 

"That's for sure," the coach said. 

By Friday, the tune had changed. Drastically. 

Gruden said that Williams' status on Sunday will come down to the medical staff. The coach added that Williams has to be comfortable in whatever cast will support his dislocated thumb.

As for Williams, he would not say for sure that he's going to play. But after talking with him for a few minutes in the Redskins locker room, it seems like the medical staff will be hard pressed to keep him off the field. 

Williams missed the Redskins last two games after injuring his thumb in a victory over the Giants. Without him, the Redskins offensive line performed admirably, but both tackles Morgan Moses and Ty Nsekhe are fighting through a number of injuries. 

The thumb injury required surgery, which happened about two weeks ago and came with a rough four-week timetable for recovery. Williams is attempting to cut that in half. 

Asked about Williams possibly playing Sunday, Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said he wants his friend and teammate to be smart about his future. Peterson said "there's a lot of football left" but the running back also added that there were situations watching Texans film this week where "it'd be real nice to have Trent out there."

Williams himself said that it must be tough for Peterson, as the two are close friends. Obviously, the running back wants the star tackle out on the field, but he also cares about his long-term future. 

Notes: Redskins K Dustin Hopkins landed on the injury report earlier with a groin injury in the week and the team brought in other kickers for tryouts on Tuesday. On Friday, Hopkins said he was pain-free and planned to "give it a go" Sunday against Houston. 


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With Samaje Perine ruled out for Week 11, expect Byron Marshall to be activated off IR


With Samaje Perine ruled out for Week 11, expect Byron Marshall to be activated off IR

The main news on Friday at Redskins Park was the surprising return to the practice field by Trent Williams. 

That wasn't the only notable development when it comes to injuries, though. 

During his end-of-the-week podium session, Jay Gruden ruled Samaje Perine out for Sunday's game against the Texans. The second-year back has a calf injury and won't be able to go in Week 11.

As of Friday afternoon, that leaves the 'Skins with just two healthy running backs in Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs. Chris Thompson is on the active roster as well, but he's dealing with rib issues and he's going to be absent when Houston visits.

This means you should expect to see Byron Marshall in Burgundy and Gold come kickoff. Marshall has been on IR with an ankle injury since the start of the year but said he's been healthy for a while now and would be ready to step in as the third back.

The majority of offensive snaps the past few weeks have gone to Peterson and Bibbs, so Marshall shouldn't figure into things too much when the Redskins have the ball. He showed flashes in some spot duty in 2017, though, so if need be, he could be productive for Gruden.

With Trey Quinn already back on the 53, if/when the team elects to bring back Marshall, the Redskins will be out of IR activations. NFL rules stipulate each club only gets two per season.