Time for Redskins WR Ryan Grant to carry summer success into fall

ASHBURN, Va. -- Ryan Grant turned cornerbacks around and then started turning heads. In his first training camp three years ago, Grant stood out as a mature rookie because of his route running. In the ensuing three seasons, though, the wide receiver has been known more for his route running in practices than success in games.

It's time for him to do more. As the Washington Redskins prepare to begin training camp Thursday, Grant will have more opportunities to prove his coaches right. They haven't lost confidence in him after 39 catches in three seasons for a big reason: They like how he works, how he runs routes and know he was playing behind DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

Those two are gone, prompting the need for Grant to be a more consistent producer. In the spring, Grant worked as the No. 3 receiver with Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder. Grant can play all three receiver spots, which is why he worked ahead of 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson in the spring.

"I'm easily Ryan Grant's biggest fan," Redskins receivers coach Ike Hilliard said. "He's always been our best pure route runner out of everyone, even with Pierre and DJax here. He's been a consummate pro. He says nothing and he works all the time. He's gotten a bad rap for situations that weren't completely his fault. The world will never know that."

Grant was the intended target on an overtime pass against Atlanta in 2015. But he slipped, the defensive back stepped in front and returned the interception for a touchdown. Quarterback Kirk Cousins admitted later he shouldn't have made the pass.

There have been other mishaps, too. Regardless, the coaches' belief hasn't wavered. Two years ago, while starting five games in place of an injured Jackson, Grant caught 23 passes; he finished with nine last season.

In the past two seasons, Cousins has posted a 75.2 passer rating when targeting Grant. Cousins has completed just 59.6 percent of his passes to Grant in that span.

"He needs opportunities," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Grant in June. "You can't produce very well at wideout if you don't get opportunities. ... Hopefully he'll get more opportunities. He's our most consistent guy, without a doubt, as a far as being able to line up everywhere, run the routes exactly how we want them at the right depth coming out of them. He's physical across the middle, he's fast enough to go deep, so I'm anxious for him to get some opportunities and see what he can do."

Jackson and Garcon were proven veterans. Now the Redskins have one receiver entering his second full season at the position -- Pryor -- but he's also one coming off a 1,000-yard season. Doctson played two games last season and rarely practiced in the spring or summer because of Achilles issues. There's room for Grant to get more consistent time.

"He put on weight, got stronger, did all the things everyone asked him to do," Hilliard said. "Hopefully now it's his time to go out and show he can play."