Rashad Ross, the Redskins’ No. 6 wide receiver, didn’t get his number called the Dolphins. In fact, he didn’t suit up. But with star wide receiver DeSean Jackson sidelined for a few weeks, Ross, a training camp long shot, is expected to be in uniform when the Rams visit FedEx Field on Sunday.
How much Ross play? And how will he be used? Those questions, Coach Jay Gruden said Monday, will be determined in the coming days.
“We’ll see," Gruden said. "We have a couple of days of practice to see how much we can get out of him.”
Gruden added: “Worst case, he can be a good kickoff returner.”
It’s unclear if Gruden meant Ross would be tapped to return kickoffs against the Rams, or at some point this season. But when asked to clarify, Gruden indicated it could happen against St. Louis.
“Yeah, him and Chris [Thompson] both can do it," Gruden said. "We like the way Ross does it.”
Thompson got one opportunity to return a kick against Miami and took the ball back 36 yards. Ross, meantime, recorded a 35-yard return on his only opportunity of the preseason.
Regardless of whether Ross returns kickoffs on Sunday, Gruden figures to find a role for him on offense with Jackson sidelined 3-4 weeks with a hamstring pull. And that role will likely involve utilizing Ross' considerable straight line—and his recently refined route running—to give quarterback Kirk Cousins the deep threat he and the Redskins' offense lacked when Jackson went down early against the Dolphins.
“We had him last year [in camp] and he was a little bit all over the place, not sure where and who to block [and] his routes were short,” Gruden said about Ross' improvement. “He showed great speed and all that stuff. [But] this year he came in with a great mental approach as far as learning the system, where to line up, how to line up, the routes. He was very sharp in all his cuts—in-breaking routes, out-breaking routes, go balls, posts, all that. I was very impressed with him.”
Ross, however, is 25-years-old and has yet to record a regular season reception. So expecting him to come in and single-handedly replace Jackson is a stretch, to say the least. But considering that he led the NFL during the preseason in catches, yards and touchdowns, there's something there. And you had better believe the Redskins are curious to see how he fares in a game that actually counts in the standings.