Redskins

Redskins

Ryan Grant played well against Philadelphia last week.

He made four catches for 61 yards, and seemed like the only Redskins wide receiver without a glaring mistake or question mark. 

Still, for many fans, the Redskins coaches trust in Grant comes with confusion or disagreement.

In the three previous seasons, Grant has produced little, yet he keeps hitting the field and making the team. In fact, with 61 yards in Week 1, Grant is close to his entire 2016 total of 76 receiving yards.

Here's the thing: Redskins coaches, certainly including Jay Gruden, like Grant for more than just on-field production. He plays special teams well and knows all three receiver positions.

And it all starts in practice. 

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On Thursday, a familiar scene played out while the Redskins skill players ran through formation drills with the quarterbacks. During these plays, the coaches will bark out a specific formation, and various players will run out to their positions. Three quarterbacks then throw three different balls to pass catchers as they run various routes. This simulates one play-call while showing each player what their role can be in the scheme.

The nature of these drills involves a lot of players. Three quarterbacks, usually at least four guys running routes. Do the math and there's a lot of possible combinations. 

Often, a formation will get called and the exact players aren't back to the line of scrimmage, or a player is talking with a coach. Nobody is doing anything wrong, it's just the little minutiae that takes place in practices, day after day, week after week. 

 

During one specific drill, QB Kirk Cousins realized he was short one receiver. 

"I need a zebra," Cousins shouted. "I need a Z."

Cousins meant he needed a Z receiver, as there was nobody lined up in the inside slot position where a wideout would normally play. Again, nothing wrong with this picture, just a matter of bodies. 

Within seconds, Grant popped into position. He was there almost as quick as Cousins finished saying the letter Z. 

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A few seconds after that, the quarterbacks took a simulated snap. The play went off, the receivers, running backs and tight ends on the field ran their routes, three passes got thrown. 

Grant ran his route, then hustled back to the line of scrimmage. 

In the scheme of a Redskins practice, it was not a big deal. Not even the slightest hint of a blip on the radar. 

But when fans ask why coaches like Grant so much? It was a prime example. 

Grant knows all three receiver positions. While they may know the concepts, Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson won't run many inside slot routes. That role belongs to Jamison Crowder, a guy that won't run many outside routes.

Grant can run them all. He knows them, and he can quickly jump into position. 

His ability to line up at all those spots allows the team to not miss a beat in practice, and there's value in that. Coaches know it. Maybe this will help fans understand too. 

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