ASHBURN, Va. -- The general perception on young wide receivers is that it takes until the third season before the pass catchers truly get a grip on the pro game.
Ryan Grant is entering his third season with the Washington Redskins. If one practice indicates true growth, Wednesday's work showed the 2014 fifth round pick might be ready to make a move.
For the sake of his job in Washington, the timing couldn't be better. The Redskins kept six wide receivers last season, but holding five is certainly possible if needs elsewhere demand a change. Barring the unforeseen, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder are locks. Rashad Ross, who also served as Washington's kick returner last season, has the inside track for the fifth slot.
Then comes Grant, though other receivers on the current 90-player roster could impress.
"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," offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. "Just he’s got to wait for his opportunity."
Jackson's absence from the majority of Washington's OTA work this summer and Doctson's lingering Achilles injury provided Grant with such an opportunity. He hauled in several passes from Kirk Cousins during Wednesday's session including an end zone grab that had the starting quarterback racing over in celebration.
The truth is one practice, or technically "Organized Team Activities" isn't a large enough sample size for any true meaning. Yet perhaps that's not the case with Grant, who received ample hype over his two previous offseasons for his route-running ability. When the lights turned bright, however, Grant didn't shine. Given an opportunity to start when Jackson suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1, the 6-foot-0 target had some moments, but largely was just a background player. Rookie Jamison Crowder emerged as a slot threat and by the time Jackson returned, Grant was a back-bencher.
"He just has got to keep grinding and wait for his opportunity," McVay said. "He took advantage of some of them last year, but he's a very versatile guy. He can play inside, outside, both sides. 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. He's a very valuable player on our team whether he catches 20 balls or 100 balls. He’s very valuable because he can provide us with a lot of depth at every position."
Ross told Breaking Burgundy's he worked on his route running over the summer to the point he also feels comfortable lining up all over the field. Eventually Doctson will join the main practices, all of which are mandatory going forward, which means Jackson won't be missing anymore. With the full compliment of receivers around, Grant won't have as much chance to work with the starters going forward. That's why whatever opportunities come his way, he must grab hold. There could be a job on the line.
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