A step in the right direction for Redskins receiver Josh Doctson

PHOENIX — Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson is trying to put a nightmare rookie season behind him. So far, so good, but the team still needs to see more.

On Tuesday, Doctson wrote “100%” on his twitter feed. He has been working out in Tampa, Fla. with former NFL coach Jon Gruden and Washington teammates Kirk Cousins, Jamison Crowder, Terrelle Pryor and Nate Sudfeld.

The message was obvious. Doctson is feeling better after soreness in both his left and right Achilles tendons cost him months in 2016. He appeared in just two games and hardly practiced at all from rookie camp on before going on injured reserve Oct. 21.

That timeline jibes with what sources close to Doctson told 106.7 The Fan in February. He was diligently rehabbing and hoped to be close to 100 percent by the end of March. But running around in shorts with no defenders is still a long way from staying healthy during the offseason program or training camp. It is, however, encouraging.

“I’m happy. That’s a big thing with Josh. We took it really slow,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “I think [head trainer] Larry Hess and the training room did a great job with him. We sent him to a lot of doctors to try and figure out what was wrong with him. We took it slow and I think he’s in a good place mentally and that’s half the battle. We’ll continue to gradually build him through OTAs and the mandatory camp so hopefully we’ll get him to full speed in training camp and go from there. I’m excited as heck to watch him play.”

That’s in large part because Washington lost a pair of 1,000-yard wide receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Pryor helps take some of the sting away. He was over 1,000 yards himself in his first full year playing the position. Crowder himself has been a dynamic slot receiver his first two seasons in the NFL and the Redskins hope to use him outside more often in 2017. They also signed free agent wide receiver Brian Quick, but see him more as a key reserve.

Doctson is the one player who could change the entire dynamic if he’s healthy. A first-round pick and a college star at Texas Christian, Doctson has the size at 6-foot-2 to be an immediate factor. He excelled at tracking balls in the air in college – as he showed in Week 2 against Dallas when he caught a 57-yard pass from Cousins. Doctson ideally should be able to use his frame to win battles with most opposing cornerbacks, too. But this is all in theory. The Redskins haven’t seen enough of him on the practice field yet to really know what they have. Doctson being pain free is a big step for now.

“What we saw of Josh Doctson at TCU, crossing our fingers still,” Jay Gruden said. “But we feel confident that he’s going to be able to do it.”

Follow Redskins reporter Brian McNally on Twitter

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