WASHINGTON — Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson had nothing to do but wait.
Stuck at Redskins Park for most of the offseason, Doctson felt good enough on some days to test his chronically sore Achilles tendons. Not yet, the strength and conditioning coaches told him. There’s no rush. Baby steps.
Remembering the frustrations of his lost rookie season, Doctson heeded the advice. He finally began running in March, took part in a minicamp with a few teammates later that month in Florida and was finally ready to go when organized team activities (OTAs) began this week.
“The injury is pretty much non-existent now,” Doctson said. “I’ve been the whole offseason working on it every day literally to get back healthy for the start of OTAs. That was my goal and I’ve reached it.”
That showed during the Wednesday session open to reporters. Doctson ran all over the field, took part in 11-on-11 drills and made a strong catch down the sideline from Cousins. It’s only OTAs, but Doctson flashed some of the skills that made him the No. 22 overall pick in the 2016 draft.
That, of course, was before the soreness in his left Achilles tendon struck almost exactly a year ago following rookie minicamp. Doctson began the first OTAs session last May, then missed the rest of offseason work, all of training camp and returned to the field just prior to the season. It took all of two games for overcompensation to cause soreness in his right Achilles tendon.
“I could play with one busted wheel, but not two,” Doctson said.
So all he had to show for his rookie season was one tantalizing 57-yard reception against Dallas in Week 2. By October he was on injured reserve and by December he was officially ruled out for the season with an injury no one could figure out.
Doctson saw one specialist after another and never did get an exact diagnosis about what was causing his tendonitis. Even endless Google searches yielded no answers. Someone might have had a similar injury, but they weren’t NFL players, and if they were NFL players, they weren’t wide receivers.
So the training staff tried to rebuild his body from the neck down. Doctson spent months doing underwater exercises in the pool – a way to strengthen the Achilles tendons while staying off them at the same time. He used resistance bands. He did core workouts.
A chiropractor found all kinds of things wrong, including Doctson’s hips, which were misaligned. He was off balance all the time. There’s no way to tell for sure if all those little changes added up to the soreness finally ending. But Doctson is back on the field and ready to show hesitant coaches that he can last through the grind of offseason workouts and training camp.
“Now we’ve just got to continue to put one day after another after another,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “If he does have soreness, we have got to taper off for him, but right now. So far, so good. I like the way he looks, like the way he runs and love the way he catches.”
Washington needs Doctson. It lost its top two wide receivers to free agency in March (Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson). Doctson joins a revamped crew that includes Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder and Brian Quick, among others. Doctson has the size at 6-foot-2 to be a weapon in the red zone – even if he’s still a relative beanpole at just 206 pounds. The Redskins believe in his skillset. Now he has to show them on the field.
“Obviously, I wanted to play last year,” Doctson said. “I got drafted pretty high so I was ready to get out here and show my teammates and coaches that I am what they drafted….But this year will be different.”
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