The second-year Redskins receiver played more than 80 percent on Washington's offensive plays in Week 7, signaling the possibility he could play a bigger factor down the stretch.
With an increase in snaps, it appears Josh Doctson has finally earned a bigger role in the Washington Redskins' offense.
Early in the season, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden made it clear that the coaching staff loves the potential of the 2016 first-round pick. But Gruden reiterated that the former unanimous All-American needed to establish himself as an everyday player during practices before he could translate it to games.
Doctson, of course, missed a majority of his rookie season with Achilles injuries and was slowed by a hamstring issue to start this season.
During Washington's first five games, Doctson played more of a situational role that that of a starter, combining for 121 offensive snaps out of 326 offensive plays (37 percent). But Monday night's game made have finally provided a glimpse of the future for the talented wide receiver now that he's been fully healthy.
Doctson appeared on 54-of-64 offensive plays (84 percent) for Washington against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"The plan was for Josh Doctson to start at X and then rotate Terrelle [Pryor Sr.] in maybe every third series or so, but as long as Josh was fresh and feeling good [we] got Josh more involved," said Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. "We have Vernon and Jordan and Chris Thompson; it doesn't leave a lot of space for four or five receivers, so you pick two or three and you go with them. That tonight was Jamison and Josh Doctson and Ryan Grant. I thought those three did a good job and I expect them to continue to be there."
Now that Doctson appears to have a more defined role in the offense, the Redskins will seek to get more production out of him.
"Josh Doctson has emerged, to us, in practice that he deserves more reps," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden to NBC Sports Washington.
Through six games, Doctson has seven catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. He flashed the abilities to make big plays on his first career touchdown catch, a 52-yard reception in which he leapt over Oakland Raiders cornerback David Amerson in Week 3. He also nearly came away with a potential game-winning touchdown catch against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 before recording an 11-yard touchdown in Washington's 29-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6 action.
One of the aspects the coaching staff is working through now is determining how much Doctson plays the X receiver position. To start his time in the NFL, the Redskins wanted him to learn that position exclusively before potentially getting him some reps at the Z receiver position.
But the X receiver spot is also the one that converted wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. learned first when making the switch from quarterback.
"We have had Terrelle Pryor, since he walked in the door, he's been playing one position," Gruden said on a conference call with local media this week. "When you have a receiver that hasn't been playing receiver a whole lot in his career, you don't want him bouncing around playing three positons. And Josh, very similar. He didn't practice a whole lot last year, he's only in his second year here so we wanted him to really learn one position and they happen to both be at X.
"[Jamison] Crowder, [Ryan] Grant we felt good about at Z, [Brian] Quick can play some Z and then obviously Crowder plays inside. Maybe in the future, maybe we can move Josh over to Z and I'm sure Josh could play some Z if need be, but we like Crowder out there, we like Grant out there and we like where we're at there."
Gruden added that the Redskins' desire to get Doctson more playing time should help a passing offense, that while ranks sixth-overall, doesn't have a wide receiver with more than 230 receiving yards.
"Right now I think we wanted to get Josh in there a little bit more and see how he did," Gruden said. "Josh did some good things, some things we need to clean up, same with Terrelle every week. Just going to continue to coach those guys up, try to play the hot hand, play the guys who are fresh and go from there."