Focused on contributing for the Redskins in 2017, second-year wide receiver Josh Doctson is excited to return to the field. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is ready to see him unleash his skills on opposing defenses.
Perhaps no Washington Redskins player is under more pressure to perform during Sunday's regular season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles than wide receiver Josh Doctson.
Doctson, of course, was Washington's first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft after a tremendous senior season in which he was named a consensus first-team All-American.
The 6-foot-2, 206 pounder barely got a chance to showcase his brilliance as a rookie, though, catching just two passes for 66 yards before being placed on season-ending Injured Reserve in October as he dealt with nagging Achilles injury.
He would return to the field healthy in the spring and flashed during the early portions of Washington's training camp, but a hamstring injury sidelined him for the preseason opener and the Redskins' preseason Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which the starting offense played more than a half.
Despite the injuries and mounting expectations from the fan base to perform, Doctson appeared at ease on Wednesday when he talked with reporters about this week's NFC East battle.
"It's just exciting to be able to prepare like this and to be ready to play on Sunday," said Doctson, who has been a full participant at practices this week. "Any chance to get out there on Sunday, for anybody, is exciting. I'm ready."
Even though Doctson has dealt with various injuries in his short NFL career to date, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said the 24-year-old "has never lacked confidence."
"He just hasn't been 100 percent healthy," Gruden said. "He's a very confident player. He was the top receiver in the draft, we thought. He made a huge impact in college football when he played at TCU. So I think confidence is not an issue with Josh."
Check out behind the scenes images from Wide Receiver Josh Doctson's 2017 Redskins Photo Shoot.
From a talent standpoint, Doctson's fluid motions make him one of the most natural route runners at the wide receiver position. In Gruden's offense, timing and tempo of routes is key. As time goes on and Doctson remains healthy, the hope is that he becomes and reliable target for quarterback Kirk Cousins.
"He runs and gets in and out of his breaks smooth," Gruden said. "He gets his head around. He's at the right depth. He understands the route tree very well. He knows how to run everything. There's not a route that he can't run. We'll see how it goes, but I feel very good about where he is as far as mentally and his approach to running routes at receiver."
When Cousins was broached about Doctson at his weekly press conference on Wednesday, the quarterback was quick to point to some of Doctson's best attributes. Among them: natural size, great hands and top-notch ball tracking abilities. So even though Doctson has now missed six preseason games and 14 regular season games to date, he has the skillset to thrive once healthy.
"I feel pretty good because Josh is a natural receiver and has done it a long time," Cousins said. "He was able to watch last year and sit in on meetings and learn our offense. He knows what it should look like. He watched some really good players, some veteran players do it last year.
"It doesn't take a lot of time to get him going. We just do need him out there for him to be able to show what he can do and really make a difference for our team and for our offense. I'm excited for that just like I'm sure the fan base is to see what he's got in the tank. We've had a good week of practice here. We've just got to continue to give him opportunities."