Josh Doctson hopes reunion with Kirk Cousins helps resurrect career

EAGAN, Minn. -- Josh Doctson contemplated the handful of teams that reached out to offer him a fresh start shortly after he was cut by the Washington Redskins. None of them felt like the right fit, but the wide receiver didn't get discouraged. His instincts told him there was something else that would prove worth the wait.

Then he got a call from the Minnesota Vikings, one that may help the former first-round pick resurrect his career.

The Vikings' message was centered around familiarity: "Come rejoin Kirk" was the pitch to Doctson, who played with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in Washington in 2016 and 2017.

Minnesota also has a history with Doctson, 26. The Vikings spent more time with Laquon Treadwell and Doctson than any other receiver ahead of the 2016 draft. When Doctson went to Washington with the 22nd overall pick, Minnesota chose Treadwell, who was also released last weekend, one spot later.

"I thought I was going to be a Viking coming out," Doctson said. “So being in this building, this locker room, feels good."

Minnesota's receiver unit needed to bolster depth ahead of the season opener against Atlanta on Sunday, but finding a player who can contribute quickly can prove to be a tall task -- unless he has prior experience with the quarterback and knows the system.

Luckily, Doctson checks both of those boxes.

"Oh man, that's probably the most pleasant thing," Doctson said of his familiarity with the Vikings' scheme. "It's been very easy for me so far. A lot of the same concepts [as Washington's offense], familiar routes, just kind of different verbiage, so it's pretty easy."

Prior to Week 3 last season, Minnesota signed Aldrick Robinson, a speedy deep threat from Cousins' early days in Washington. Robinson finished third in touchdown catches (five), behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, and carved out a limited but important role in the Vikings' offense.

Doctson filling the void behind the Vikings' top two receivers with 20-30 catches could be critical.

"You want depth at every position," Cousins said. "It's not a luxury you have much of the time. But anytime you can have a guy who, for me, in 2017 was really our top receiver, to have a guy like that who can provide depth to your roster -- if, heaven forbid, something does happen to one of our receivers -- I think that's a big asset. I'm excited to get him going, but there is certainly a transition period of getting him up to speed, which is part of that process, too."

Doctson caught 35 passes for 502 yards and team-best six touchdowns with Cousins as his quarterback during the 2017 season. Doctson's ups and downs led to his days becoming numbered after Washington used a third-round pick to draft Terry McLaurin, another outside receiver, in April.

A fresh start may prove to be what Doctson needed all along. His skill set, Cousins believes, isn't limited to just one area, either.

"I remember one of his elite traits was his vertical jump, his ability to catch the ball at a high point in the air," Cousins said. "I regret not giving him more opportunities to do that, especially in the red zone. I look forward hopefully to getting a second chance now, but he was a fully developed receiver too. I don't feel like he was a one-trick pony.

"He caught slants for us, he ran comebacks, he caught go-balls, multiple go-balls, made diving catches, blocked in the run game. If it was just the one thing he could do, I don't know if I would've been as excited, but I think the fact that he can be a full receiver at the Z or the X position for us, I think that's a great asset."