ASHBURN -- When factoring the current status plus the big picture, there may not be a position on the Washington Redskins' roster with more uncertainty than wide receiver.
Will DeSean Jackson's injured shoulder allow him to play Sunday night against Green Bay after sitting out the Week 10 win over Minnesota?
"No idea," head coach Jay Gruden said when pressed for an answer after revealing Jackson was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. "We'll see."
Will the Redskins re-sign Jackson or fellow free agent Pierre Garcon this coming offseason? Both remain productive, but both will be over 30 by then. We'll see.
What can Washington expect from 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, who caught only two passes before landing on the injured reserve list with a lingering Achilles injury? The potential is clear thanks to his size, speed and hops. Does that mean the Redskins can feel good about him taking on a lead role next season should Jackson and Garcon exit? We'll see.
That's why, at the receiver spot, these final seven regular season games aren't just about the final seven games. Other than slot dynamo Jamison Crowder, it's unclear what the Redskins have with this unit heading into 2017.
Could Ryan Grant take over Garcon's tough guy role on those intermediate routes? We'll see, but based on what we've seen, I'd expect more Twitter jokes than actual production.
Could Rashad Ross take over as the speed threat should Jackson move on? We'll see. He stood out during training camp and makes plays in practice (or at least during the part of practice the media witnesses), yet he hasn't been a consistent part of Washington's game plan.
Could Maurice Harris ensure that the Redskins have a big outside threat on the outside chance Doctson's foot isn't right by next year? We'll see.
The difference is that the undrafted rookie free agent from Cal is starting to show he's got game. The 6-foot-3 target, who spoke with Breaking Burgundy on Wednesday (see below) had three receptions for 28 yards against the Vikings.
There were (mostly speed) reasons why teams passed on Harris in the draft despite his 558 yards and six touchdowns on 40 receptions during his senior season at California. There were also reasons to think he'd make the NFL. On Wednesday, I asked Gruden his thoughts on Harris now and a possible future role.
“What do I like about Maurice? I like the fact that we can move him around. He’s a physical guy. He can play in the running game. He can block safeties, he can block defensive linemen, he can do whatever we ask him to do and he’s smart. And then from a route standpoint, he’s very sure-handed and physical and that’s what we like about him. That’s what drew us to him and he’s not disappointed us in any way, shape or form. His role may or may not expand, we don’t know yet dependent on the health of DeSean. Obviously, Crowder can move around and play a lot of different spots but he’s a great luxury to have as far as being your fourth or fifth guy. He’s doing more on special teams. So I think the future is bright for Mo and when he does get his touches I think he’ll continue to take advantage of them because he’s a sure-handed, physical, big receiver that quarterbacks like.”
Quarterbacks do like those kinds of receivers. They also like those who are available. Among the tall receivers on the roster, Harris is the only one who is. That gives him a chance to help Gruden's offense now and perhaps forge a clear role within going forward. That's why when it comes to Harris, Grant and Ross, don't forget that latter part as you watch 2016 unfold. What happens with this unit going forward? We'll see.