Amidst a lot of changes at the wide receiver group, Jamison Crowder remains a strong, versatile option for the Redskins looking to grow further in his third year.
Entering his third season in the league, wide receiver Jamison Crowder mentioned on Wednesday that taking the next step in his burgeoning career would involve building up more confidence. Head coach Jay Gruden didn't believe him.
"I think he just couldn't think of anything to say so he said that," Gruden said with a laugh.
That does not doubt the veracity of Crowder's claim so much as show an appreciation of his talent after witnessing the Duke product's consistent progression over his first two seasons. In Gruden's perspective, Crowder has never lacked confidence, becoming a fixture in the slot at the start of his rookie year and growing as a punt returner in 2016.
He increased production in every category, hauling in 67 receptions for 847 yards and seven touchdowns, the latter category something he was adamant about improving from his first season.
"I think as far as him lining up, thinking he can beat any defender over him, I think he's confident in that regard," Gruden said. "It's just some of the route concepts, some of the stems, some of the option routes that we run, I think the more he sees, the more comfortable he's going to be. That's probably what he's talking about, just his comfort level and the formations, the personnel groups, where he lines up and then the route stems and the details of every route – the depths.
That has been slightly more of a focus for Crowder this offseason as he plans to make another leap in production. Without DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon on the team, Crowder's role will likely grow even more, so far manifest in splitting out wide on occasion during OTA practices.
Crowder said he must be cognizant of his spacing a little more as opposed to his usual lineup in the slot, but simplified some of the nuances of shifting around the field to essentially explain his role as a receiver.
"Whether you are inside or outside, you're running routes," Crowder said. "So, you know, that's what the job description of a receiver is, running routes to catch the ball. Whenever the time I line up outside, I don't put much thought process into it. I just go out there, just play and come out here and have fun, running routes whether I'm inside or outside."
Check out images from the Washington Redskins' offense during their ninth day of OTAs at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
Moving him outside on occasion is just another example of Crowder's versatility. Gruden praised his intuitiveness on option routes and breaking off stems, finding ways to get break away from defenders in open field. He also emphasized how he plays bigger than his height, using his longer arms to provide quarterback Kirk Cousins a bigger catch radius.
"I've said all along Jamison can play anywhere. He can play outside, inside. He can play running back probably if he wanted to," Gruden said. "We'll utilize Jamison and try to get him more involved, not just in the passing game and the running game. He's an excellent player, dynamic player. He just continues to prove every day why we like him so much."
For Crowder, the ability to grow as a player will be easier considering the smooth transition with Matt Cavanaugh as offensive coordinator, Cousins back at quarterback and top receivers in Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Jordan Reed continuing to draw greater interest from defenders.
"I'm just trying to sharpen up my skills and get better," Crowder said. "But it's pretty much the same thing for me. So, you know, much hasn't changed."