With just one game remaining in his second season, Josh Doctson has proven durable this year. Now the Redskins want to see increased production out of Doctson next year.
Last Sunday's game may have provided a glimpse of how the Washington Redskins want to utilize wide receiver Josh Doctson in his third season.
Against the Denver Broncos, Doctson – a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft – was targeted a career-high 13 times. While he only caught two of his targets including a 48-yard touchdown, the Redskins have expectations that Doctson will take the leap to No. 1 receiver status in the coming years.
"I've been impressed with Josh throughout the whole year," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "He's been durable. He's played the whole year and done some great things and I think there's more to Josh than what we've seen this year and I think we'll get more out of him next year – the more comfortable our quarterback gets with him and the more that we see that he can do. I've been impressed with Josh, not only in the route running, but he's been getting better in blocking also."
Doctson, of course, only appeared in two games during his rookie season as he was beset by Achilles issues that eventually ended his season with a placement on Injured Reserve. The TCU product, however, has played in all 15 games so far in his second season with Washington, recording 31 receptions for 465 yards and a team-high six touchdowns.
While the 2015 unanimous All-American has yet to topple the 100-yard mark in a single game or dominate with multiple touchdownns in one outing, Gruden said Doctson has shown significant progress in his understanding of the offensive scheme while also being sharper with his route running and cuts.
"We have a lot of different route cuts for the X in our offense at split-end," Gruden said. "He's in tight splits. He is out wide and he is motioning to the slot. He's doing a lot of different things. Even the understanding of the offense in year two or three – he should be a lot more comfortable and he should be able to really have a lot of progress I think because he is running a lot of these for the first time on game day.
"Practice is one thing, but you get in a game and you see a rolled up coverage sometimes, sometimes you see off, sometimes you see press-man, sometimes it's press-bail, but to understand the different route concepts and the different depths and the stems and how you come out of breaks and the anticipation the quarterback has to have for you to come out of these different route cuts is critical."
Washington will play in its regular season finale this Sunday against the New York Giants at East Rutherford, N.J., giving Doctson one final opportunity to close out his season on a positive note before heading into the offseason with a full bill of health.
Once Doctson returns to training in the offseason, he'll have a leg up on his progress. It's a luxury he didn't have this time last year when he was still rehabbing his injured Achilles.
"I think he'll be in great shape next year, continue to get stronger, a little bit faster, maybe a little quicker," Gruden said. "Just having this whole experience of a full year under his belt lining up in different positions and running different routes and seeing the game for what it's all about is just going to be a huge, huge lift for him moving into next year."