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Relying on Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon is risky but also brings plenty of potential

Relying on Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon is risky but also brings plenty of potential

In Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon, the Redskins have two rookie receivers that they're hoping will inject their offense with talent and production in 2019.

The problem, unfortunately, is that first-year wideouts are about as reliable as elevators at a Metro station. Santana Moss — a very prolific pass catcher who needed a few seasons to find his groove — explained why that's the case during a recent on-air appearance for NBC Sports Washington.

"I think guys don't understand how different the game is," Moss said. "When you get here on this level, you're playing with grown men. Everybody, from the first to the fourth to the fifth [defensive back] can go out there and beat you up. Guys have to get acclimated to the speed of the game and learn how to be a pro fast at that position."

You don't have to look hard for reasons to be optimistic that McLaurin and Harmon can quickly figure things out, though.

McLaurin, the third-rounder out of Ohio State, is a burner who will have the luxury of breaking into the NFL with the quarterback he played with in college. That special trait and familiarity with Dwayne Haskins could each propel him to early success.

"You can see that they have a natural relationship throwing and catching the ball with the routes," Jay Gruden said about the duo after last Saturday's minicamp practice. "Terry is very, very impressive in these two days with his speed and his ability to get off the jams and make plays down the field. An easy guy to throw to, fast and kind of big."

"Very comfortable to know how Terry runs routes, how he grinds, and what he works for," said Haskins. "Great chemistry and we will have that on the field."

As for Harmon, he posted back-to-back strong campaigns at NC State and has a reputation for snatching everything within his grasp. A lackluster 40-yard dash largely caused him to slip into the draft's sixth round, a place the Redskins are thrilled to have landed him.

"I like his size. When you watch him on tape, you don't realize how big he is," Gruden said. "He is a very quarterback-friendly target... I had Mo Sanu at Cincinnati and he's with Atlanta now and they have a very similar skill set."

While McLaurin projects to give Washington more splash plays outside of the numbers, Harmon expects to be more involved over the middle and in contested situations. It sounds like he has the perfect attitude for that role, too.

"Always trying to bully the guy in front of me if I got to block him or win a route or sell a route being a decoy for my teammates," he told reporters on Saturday. "I’m just always trying to win every one-on-one battle."

And while Gruden compared Harmon to Sanu, Haskins had an even more favorable name on his mind.

"Kelvin is a beast. I call him baby Julio," the QB said. "He just looks like Julio Jones from how he runs his routes and how hard he works. He's a very physical guy and I’m just blessed to have him and Terry in the same class as me."

Two rookies. Two diverse skill sets. Two potential contributors. 

The Redskins' receiving corps is in rough shape. McLaurin and Harmon could do a lot to adjust that. Whether that happens this year will have a lot to do with how well they adjust from Saturdays to Sundays. 

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One analyst sees Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice having to split carries as a 'potential problem'

One analyst sees Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice having to split carries as a 'potential problem'

In theory, Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice working out of the same backfield should be an enormous boost for the Redskins this season.

In theory, Peterson's presence should allow Guice to slowly ease his way into the NFL during Washington's early contests, and in theory, Guice's availability should help Peterson stay fresher for 16 games since he won't have to be the one handling every carry.

But NBC Sports and Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio doesn't exactly see the Redkins' running back situation playing out so peacefully. The NFL isn't a third-grade classroom; sharing isn't always caring.

"This is going to be a potential problem for the team because Adrian Peterson is not accustomed to giving up touches," Florio recently told NBC Sports Washington.

"When he was in New Orleans for not very long in 2017, he realized he wasn't getting the ball the way that he did in Minnesota," he continued. "He wanted the ball, he ended up being traded to Arizona where they had an injury need that made him the guy. Last year an injury need in Washington made him the guy."

Of the team's 339 rushing attempts by non-quarterbacks in 2018, Peterson was responsible for 251 of them. That means he was shouldered with 74-percent of the overall workload. 

During mandatory minicamp in early June, position coach Randy Jordan laid out his preferred ratio for Peterson and Guice now that they're together. What he wants sounds a lot more even than how last season's breakdown ended up looking.

“They are both different, but they are both explosive,” he said. “The thing is ideally you would like to see a 50/50, 60/40 [split]." 

Florio, however, is wary of how that could upset the future Hall of Famer.

"He wants to be the guy," Florio said. "Derrius Guice is going to — if he plays like he did before we saw that ACL tear last year — he's going to potentially eat into those touches and Adrian Peterson will not be happy about it and he will not be bashful about saying so."

While at the Ashburn podium following an offseason practice, Jay Gruden admitted that Peterson seems like a player who improves as his usage increases, but he ultimately explained he doesn't believe fewer carries will hurt Peterson. And you'd love to believe him.

Many offenses have thrived using multiple options on the ground, and it's an approach you're seeing more and more in pro football. Peterson and Guice can attack defenses in different ways, they have different strengths and they could each ease the burden on one another along with Chris Thompson, who you can't forget about.

Yet these are also two threats who are used to being the primary piece of their units. They're used to 20-plus touches and finding their rhythm at their own pace. So while Gruden, his staff and Redskins fans are focusing on the positive possibilities of a Peterson-Guice duo, Florio is less bullish.

"The more touches Guice gets, the more frustrated Peterson will be, because he knows he's only got so many years left to play football," Florio said. "He wants to get as many carries, as many yards as possible as he climbs higher and higher up the all-time rushing list. That's going to be a challenge for the team in 2019."

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Brian Mitchell says if Dwayne Haskins 'proves he's the best, he goes on the football field'

Brian Mitchell says if Dwayne Haskins 'proves he's the best, he goes on the football field'

Imagine a scenario in which three quarterbacks are set to battle it out for the starting spot. In the situations leading up to the Week 1 game, one quarterback has consistently played well while the other two have faltered at times. You'd obviously go with the guy who's looked the best, right?

But what if you knew the added information that the quarterback shining is a rookie who has no regular-season experience and only a few months of NFL practices under his belt, while the other two are veterans, one is familiar with the offensive system and the other has proven to be successful at points in his career. Would the labels impact your decision?

Obviously, this oddly specific scenario alludes to the quarterback competition going on with the Redskins. If rookie Dwayne Haskins performs the best leading up to the season, should he be given the nod over veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy despite their advantage in experience? According to NBC Sports Washington's Brian Mitchell, that's exactly how it should go.

"If Dwayne Haskins seems to show you that he's the best quarterback out there, why not play him," Mitchell said. "I don't think it's a situation where you have to play the veterans before him. If he is the best quarterback in training camp, he goes out in preseason and proves that he's the best, he goes on the football field."

For Mitchell, the decision on who is the starting quarterback doesn't revolve around experience or things of the past. All that matters is what is going on in the moment. If Dwayne Haskins sticks out through July and August, Mitchell believes he deserves the opportunity to be the guy for Washington. Rookie or veteran, it's about who's playing the best.

This way of choosing is also ideal to the former Redskin because it allows for Haskins progression and emergence to come naturally. By determining if he's ready or not solely on what is seen out of him, there's no risk of pushing him out there before he's ready or holding him back for longer than needed, according to Mitchell.

"I look at Dwayne Haskins in this way: You don't have to rush him, you don't have to truly patient," Mitchell said. "You allow him to go through the process."

Much like JP Finlay, Mitchell believes that Haskins was selected at No. 15 for a reason. Even if an "R" may show up next to his name this season, that shouldn't keep him off the field. If he looks ready, then Mitchell believes he should get the nod as early as Week 1.

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