Redskins Coach Jay Gruden had high praise this week for Ryan Grant’s performance in OTAs, saying he still harbors high hopes for the third-year wide receiver.
“He just has got to keep grinding,” Gruden said, “and wait for his opportunity.”
Grant has enjoyed a bigger role this spring thanks to DeSean Jackson’s decision to skip much of the offseason program and rookie Josh Doctson’s nagging Achilles’ injury. And, from the sounds of it, Grant has maximized that opportunity.
“You want everybody out there obviously, but if not, the good thing is other guys get work and they are getting a lot of work,” Gruden said. “Ryan Grant’s had a great camp.”
Indeed, with Jackson absent and Doctson still sidelined on Wednesday, Grant stood out. He made a few nice grabs, including a corner route touchdown reception on a pass from Kirk Cousins. (Wednesday’s practice was the only session of the week open to media.)
As it stands now, Grant appears pegged as the No. 5 receiver on a crowded depth chart that also features Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Rashad Ross. It's unclear if there's a chance for anything to change this summer, but this much cannot be debated: Gruden is a big fan of Grant’s work ethic and ability to overcome a lack of blazing speed with precise routes, instincts and feel for the game.
Grant’s biggest strength at this point in his career, though, might be his versatility and eagerness to chip in wherever he’s needed.
“He can play inside, outside, both sides,” Gruden said. “He's smart and very detailed in his work. He can come in and block safeties if we need him to. He's played special teams.”
Grant had an up and down sophomore season. The 25-year-old established career highs in receptions (23), yards (268), first downs (18) and touchdowns (2). But he also made a couple of forgettable miscues—the overtime slip in Atlanta that led to the game-ending pick-6 and his inability to recover an onside kick in New England.
Despite an uneven 2015, Gruden indicated that the team remains as committed as ever to Grant’s continued growth, while the player and the team await the opportunity Gruden believes will eventually come his way.
“He's a very valuable player on our team whether he catches 20 balls or 100 balls,” Gruden said. “He’s very valuable because he can provide us with a lot of depth at every position. He’s heck of a player and I think once he gets his opportunity to be a full-time starter, he’s going to run and take it. Just he’s got to wait for his opportunity."