LANDOVER -- Everything moved fast for rookie Josh Doctson in recent days. That included what he experience Monday night.
His first full NFL practice in pads only took place exactly one week before what turned out to be his debut with the Washington Redskins. Despite that limited work and sitting out the entire summer because of an Achilles injury, the first round pick was active for the Week 1 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Outside of the sound defeat, that Doctson played in the 38-16 loss was arguably the biggest surprise of all.
"It was my decision in terms of if I was going to fight through my Achilles injury," Doctson told Breaking Burgundy. "I think I surprised myself. Got here in May. Haven't touched the field since May. Got about three to four practices under my belt going into my first NFL game. It was probably crazy on my end, but I came out healthy."
Coach Jay Gruden explained the when and why parts of the decision to keep the rookie active.
“Probably yesterday. Made sure he’s good to go. He had a couple good days at practice," Gruden explained. "You know, I wanted to get him out here pregame warm-up and let him run around, just get a taste of the game. You know, he’s our fifth wide out. We got him in a little bit, sporadically. So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and hopefully we can use him the rest of the time.”
Doctson estimated he played about eight snaps -- it was actually 12 -- with most coming late in the loss. He did record his first NFL catch for a nine-yard gain. That it came in a loss dampened the happy somewhat.
"Obviously the goal at the end of the day is to get the W and we didn't do that," the TCU product said. "Regardless of first catch, 100 percent, execution, I'm still bummed we lost."
As for the on-field experience, which the 23-year-old described as "fun," the primary takeaway involved the speed.
"It moves a lot faster. ...I think the speed inside the box was faster," Doctson said. "Those linebackers and d-lineman move around, fast. Not necessarily speed on the outside. I didn't get to open up on that many routes. Came across the middle a couple of times. Guys are moving a lot faster."
There was nothing fast about Doctson's recovery from the injury. Once he put the pads on during practice, he clearly took off while winning over the coaching staff. There's something to be said for gaining experience. The Redskins chose that for Doctson over keeping perhaps a player who could help more in the Week 1 game. Seeing as Washington chose him 22nd overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, that's somewhat understandable, although surprising. There was a lot of that going around.
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