The Redskins gave rookie wide receiver Jamison Crowder his first-ever extended NFL action last Thursday and by all accounts he did well.
After played 23 snaps in the first two games combined, Crowder was on the field for 54 of the 77 offensive plays against the Giants. Crowder was targeted six times in the passing game and he caught all six of them for 45 yards. He also caught a pass for a two-point conversion.
While that is not overly impressive production with an average of 7.5 yards per catch, it was a good game for him to get his feet wet.
“I think just seeing him out there, getting him out there and seeing the comfort level that he has on game day,” said Jay Gruden. “You know, it’s easy in practice sometimes but you get out in the game and there’s hand signals, there’s audibles and things like that, you have got to see how he adjusts on the fly and he did a great job. Like I said, I think it was last week after his injury, it kind of set him back a little bit but I said as the season progresses you’re going to see more and more and more of Jamison Crowder.”
How much more we see of Crowder may depend on how quickly DeSean Jackson recovers from his injured hamstring. His absence from the lineup has created opportunities for Crowder to get more snaps. Jackson has not been ruled out of this week’s game against the Eagles but a return the week after that in Atlanta or the following week against the Jets seems more likely. That leaves one or two more games for Crowder to leave his mark and earn snaps as the season goes on.
When Jackson returns, Crowder’s main competition for playing time is with Andre Roberts. After coming in as a free agent from the Cardinals in 2014, Roberts has been something of a disappointment. Last year he caught just 36 passes despite playing over 700 snaps and being targeted 62 times. His seven drops did not help his production.
Next year Roberts’ salary cap number increases to $5 million. If Crowder can establish himself as a younger, cheaper, and equally effective alternative, he could find himself at the top of the slot receiver depth chart in 2016. But it starts with taking advantage of the opportunity he has right now.