The Washington Redskins once again will have to search for depth at the tight end position, as Derek Carrier (torn ACL, MCL) becomes the third tight end on the roster to suffer a season-ending injury.
The Washington Redskins' tight end depth will once again be tested, as head coach Jay Gruden confirmed on Monday that Derek Carrier suffered a season-ending a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee.
Carrier, who the Redskins acquired via trade with the San Francisco 49ers in August, suffered the injury after making a reception in the first quarter of Sunday's 24-21 victory over the Chicago Bears.
"It's a big loss," Gruden said. "Obviously he's our true Y, remaining Y, blocking tight end. So [Je'Ron] Hamm's got to step up, Jordan Reed, or we'll have to go out and look for another one."
Carrier, a Beloit College product, appeared on 10 offensive snaps against the Bears after missing last Monday's game against the Dallas Cowboys with ankle and Achilles injuries.
Carrier is now the third tight end on the roster to go down with a season-ending injury, as both Niles Paul (ankle) and Logan Paulsen (toe) also were placed on Injured Reserve during the preseason.
Carrier, who was brought in to replace Paul and Paulsen, was productive in his first season with the Redskins – serving as the team's No. 2 tight end behind Jordan Reed – as he recorded 17 receptions for 141 yards.
The third-year tight end recorded his first career touchdown in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons, tallying a seven-yard scoring reception.
A wide receiver in college, Gruden said Carrier was improving in other facets of his game as a tight end as he worked with tight ends coach Wes Phillips.
"He was getting better," Gruden said. "He wasn't a finished product, isn't a finished product, and we liked his progression. It's just unfortunate it happened. We liked where he was going. He's a smart guy. He's gaining strength in the weight room, and was doing better at the point of attack and back side. Had a ways to go, but we liked where he was going and it's unfortunate, but now Hamm and Jordan, [Tom] Compton, have to step up."
The Washington Redskins on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, announced the acquisition of tight end Derek Carrier. Take a look at his NFL career in photos.
The Redskins are currently left with Reed and Hamm, who was recently called up to the active roster after a season and a half on the practice squad, at tight end.
Reed has strung together a season that ranks among the best in the league this season by any tight end, as he has hauled in 67 passes for 694 yards and seven touchdowns – all career highs.
Hamm, meanwhile, has been active only once this season, appearing on three offensive plays against the Cowboys in Week 13 action.
The Louisiana-Monroe product used his time on the practice squad to improve as a blocker, as he was a college wide receiver before a position move to start his NFL career.
"I feel good about it," Hamm told Redskins.com of where his progression in blocking is. "I mean, I'm definitely not a 260 kind of guy, but I feel like I can get in in there and that the ball can be ran my way. I feel confident. [Tight ends coach] Wes [Phillips] has worked with me this last year and a half. So that's what it took – a year and a half – but it worked and I feel confident."
Gruden said he's seen growth in Hamm over the last two seasons.
"He's one of these guys you like to have in your building, where you develop them," Gruden said. "He got some reps last week, a little bit, spot duty, did an adequate job but we just have to see. He'll get more reps in practice and we'll have to see how good we feel about it and blocking the point of attack backside, but we know he can run and catch the ball, that's a good thing. But blocking is one thing he's got to work on and Wes has done a good job working on it with him."
The Redskins will likely search free agency for a third tight end to add to the roster in replacement of Carrier, while continuing to use Tom Compton and Ty Nsekhe as tackle-eligible "tight ends" in some formations.
During the offseason, they brought in rookies Devin Mahina and Ernst Brun Jr., second-year Chase Dixon and veteran D.J. Williams.
Gruden said the team will bring in tight ends for workouts tomorrow, but bringing someone in during Week 15 and getting them quickly acclimated won't be easy.
"It's a great challenge," Gruden said. "It's a tough position to find nowadays with all these spread offenses in college football and there's just not a lot of tight ends on the streets anymore. Not a lot that can do both, blocking the core and running routes. It's either you get a big blocking tight end that can't run a lick or you get a spread tight end who's a great runner but can't block a lick. Hopefully there's one or two out there that we can work out and maybe sign. But if not, we have it in house, I think we can get by with the guys that we have. Obviously you don't have the flexibility that you'd like to have at that position if Compton's a tight end and some of your base personnel stuff, but we'll have to do with what we have."