ASHBURN, Va. – The problem for Ryan Grant should be a good one for the Washington Redskins. The coaches like him and believe he can play. They also have players who are better than him, which will leave him in a familiar spot when the Redskins begin training camp next month.
He’ll be the fourth or fifth receiver behind the top three of Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. There’s also rookie Jamison Crowder.
Grant’s route-running is excellent, but as of now, the top three are just better receivers. That doesn’t mean the Redskins have altered their opinion of him, publicly or privately.
“He’s awesome, man. He really is,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “He runs every route exactly like you tell him to run it. He doesn’t make any mental mistakes. He’s got big, strong hands. It’s just right now with Pierre, DeSean. Andre, we draft Crowder, it’s a crowded room right now with a lot of skill.
“But I won’t hesitate one bit whether he’s our starting Z, starting X, starting inside player, what have you. I think as a wide receiver he’s very polished and he’s just waiting his turn. He is ready to go, though. I promise you that. I love Ryan Grant and what he is and what he’s about.”
Grant had a solid camp last summer, but only caught seven passes for 68 yards. He’s not a downfield threat (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds at the 2014 scouting combine, a time that turned off some teams). And Grant wasn’t a strong receiver, so if a corner got his hands on him, it was tough for him to create separation.
This spring, Grant again showed the ability to create separation with excellent fakes and cuts. He’s adept at being able to get corners leaning one way while he cuts another, thanks to excellent fakes. He’s precise in his movements, so he’s able to con defensive backs. But it appeared that when corners could get their hands on Grant, they were able to stop him.
Still, he’s a good receiver to have in the system. The Redskins were never going to cut Garcon this offseason. They obviously want to keep Jackson and Roberts would save no money vs. the salary cap. Zero. (Roberts has $2.75 million in guaranteed money this year; so even if they wanted to make a move here -- and I'm not close to saying they do -- they couldn't. He’s going nowhere. Capiche?) Plus, for as good as Grant looked last summer, Roberts looked much better.
A year from now, however, the Redskins might need to make some moves with their top three. That’s when, barring injuries this season, Grant would need to be even more ready. Until then, Grant is doing what he can to force the issue sooner – and to stay ready.
“He’s been great, works hard. He’s trying to prove that he deserves some reps and every time he gets a rep he takes advantage of it, and that’s the one thing we’re trying to get across these guys,” Gruden said. “You may get 10 reps a day in practice. Make sure you take advantage of those reps, and Ryan is one of those guys who takes advantage of every rep he gets. Even the reps that he doesn’t get the ball thrown to him, you can see he’s working his hardest coming in and out of breaks and getting open and fighting to get off bump-and-run or what have you. So very, very, very impressed with Ryan and [he’s] done an excellent job.”