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Redskins Will Return 'Pretty Good Arsenal Of Weapons'

Posted Feb 29, 2016

With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon expected to return in 2016, the Redskins have quality depth at both wide receiver and tight end for the season.

With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon expected to return in 2016, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden believes the team has elite depth at both wide receiver and tight end for the season.

Match any trio with the Washington Redskins’ one-two punch at wide receiver along with Jordan Reed at tight end, and it’d be difficult to find a more diverse yet effective group of pass catchers.

With DeSean Jackson still one of if not the best deep threat in the NFL, Pierre Garçon gaining extra yards with physicality few defensive backs can match and Reed in the top tight end discussion after a breakout 2015 season, it’s easy to see why.

While there were some schools of thought that the Redskins would have to part with either Jackson and/or Garçon during the offseason to create cap space, that currently isn’t a direction the team is going in.

“Yeah, they’re on our roster, so we’re excited about it,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said at the NFL Combine. “Get Desean in there full time healthy, which is great. There is no substitution for speed, and DeSean gives us that. And Pierre is one of the toughest receivers in the game, and they complement each other very well. Throw Jordan Reed in the middle, and it’s a pretty good arsenal of weapons.”

Each of the three had their moments as the top target to Kirk Cousins last season.

Through the team’s first six games of the season, Garçon hauled in 32 receptions for 295 yards and three touchdowns while both Jackson (hamstring) and Reed (concussion) dealt with injuries.

The Mount Union product, who set the franchise record for single-season receptions with 113 in 2013, also grabbed a touchdown in each of the final three regular season games.

“Pierre has always been very consistent,” Cousins said after Garçon made the game-winning touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles in October. “He runs precise routes. He runs through the football. He’s fearless, he makes the tough catch. He’s a true professional and he showed that today throughout the game but certainly on those catches at the end. He’s the kind of guy you want to be in the huddle and out on the field and in those moments with.”

Jackson came up limping after trying to catch a deep pass in the first quarter of the regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins.

Despite being close to returning in the two weeks prior to the team’s Week 8 bye, the three-time Pro Bowler didn’t return to the lineup until Week 9.

Slow to regain his lethalness at first, Jackson eventually found his stride starting Week 11 against the Carolina Panthers, as he caught touchdown passes in three of four games including a 77 yarder against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 20.

“I think we’re in a good place,” Cousins said at the time of his connection with Jackson. “I think it can grow quite a bit. I think it’s going to grow over time. The more reps we’re able to have together, the more time we’re able to have together, the better we’ll be. I think it’s in a good place and I think that has been evident the last few weeks. He’s a very talented player.”

Reed, meanwhile, stepped up with the Redskins needed him most this season.

With both Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen lost to season-ending injuries in August, Reed was thrust into full-time action at the tight end position.

He delivered with 87 receptions and 11 touchdowns – both single-season franchise records for tight ends – along with 952 yards.

But it wasn’t just the usual suspects that made the passing offense click this season.

Rookie Jamison Crowder looked like a seasoned veteran in the slot, as he hauled in 59 receptions for 604 yards and two touchdowns.

“We’re happy with where he is,” Gruden said. “He’s gonna come back in better shape. Great knowledge and much more confidence in the system going into year 2. A lot of those players who are rookies get a lot of reps they make significant jump in year two, and that’s what we’re anticipating from Jamison.”

Rashad Ross and Ryan Grant also played their roles well, too.

After being released by the Redskins early last year, Ross battled for and eventually earned a roster spot for the 2015 season.

He provided a second vertical threat along with being the team’s primary kick returner.

Grant also recorded the first two touchdowns of his career while fitting a much different role on the offense.

“Ryan Grant did some good things in the running game blocking and special teams and when he got an opportunity to run some routes and get the ball he did some good things,” Gruden said. “I feel really strongly about Ryan Grant. I think he’s an excellent receiver just waiting for his opportunity to be a starter.”

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