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#HailMail: How Can The Redskins' Deep Passing Game Improve In 2018?

061518-hailmail

Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about the Redskins after the team wrapped up minicamp this week.

There’s two areas that should give confidence that the Redskins will have more success with connecting on the deep pass this season.

The first is quarterback Alex Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating (131.4) throws targeted 20 yards or more from the line of scrimmage last year according to Pro Football Focus. His 131.4 rating in this category was nearly 20 points better than the second best quarterback (Matthew Stafford, 111.6).

Additionally, per Pro Football Focus’ metrics, Smith led the NFL in deep pass yards (1,344) and adjust completion percentage (56.5).

The other factor that will benefit the Redskins’ ability to stretch the field this season is wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr.

While the Redskins had DeSean Jackson for three seasons (2014-16), the three-time Pro Bowler departed in free agency last year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In return, Washington didn’t quite have the same speed threat on the outside.

But Richardson, signed in free agency from the Seattle Seahawks, could fill that void. During a breakout campaign in 2017, the University of Colorado product had 13 receptions of at least 20 yards and three receptions of at least 40 yards.

In comparison to Washington’s other wide receivers, Jamison Crowder had 12 receptions of 20 yards or longer and just one longer than 40 yards.

“I think that I have a lot of the same qualities,” Richardson said in reference to Jackson. “I think that I do add the ‘going up and get it’ aspect. I like going up against defenders and turning 50/50 balls into 100 percent mine."

Already this offseason, Smith has been working on building a deep ball connection with Richardson. During Tuesday’s minicamp practice, the two linked up for a would-be 50-yard touchdown in 11-on-11 work and also joined forced on a pass in 7-on-7 from the same range.

Smith’s veteran presence and ability to be accurate on deep passes will help set the tempo for the entire passing game, especially on longer attempts.

“He’s easily going to make us better,” said Redskins wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard. “I think our group will benefit greatly from his experience, which is a plus for us. We’re a younger group in terms of the years and playing experience. We’re looking forward the change and the opportunity of playing with Alex.”

It’s difficult to say one player is going to be a security policy for another, but Carter does has similar characteristics to Thompson, who is expected to be ready at some point during training camp after last year's fractured fibula suffered in November. They’re the same weight (195 pounds) while Thompson is just one inch taller at 5-foot-8.

In terms of dual-threat capabilities, Carter can also catch the ball out of the backfield while still being a threat as a runner.

In four seasons at Grambling State, Carter carried the ball 398 times for 2,634 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also caught 74 passes for 2,643 yards and nine touchdowns.

On top of his offensive abilities, Carter also averaged nearly 10 yards per punt return and 22.5 yards per kickoff return.

While the Redskins are strong at the position with veterans like Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine and Thompson along with second-round pick Derrius Guice, Carter could help make a case during training camp.

Kelley, of course, went undrafted two years ago before making the initial 53-man roster. Other college free agent signings have done enough to earn a practice squad spot (Maurice Harris at wide receiver, for example) before being signed to the active roster.

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