WASHINGTON — If you believe Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder, he still has a serious flaw in his game.
That’s hard to see for one of the NFL’s top slot receivers who has 126 receptions, 1,451 yards and nine touchdowns over his first two seasons and has become a reliable presence for quarterback Kirk Cousins.
But it’s true. Maybe? Crowder claims his confidence must grow if he wants to make even more strides. His coaches aren’t so sure that’s an issue.
“I don’t believe that. I think he just couldn’t think of anything to say to you guys so he said that,” Washington coach Jay Gruden joked. “Jamison has never lacked confidence in my mind. As a young football player you’re going to have some indecision here and there. I think the more you do something, the better you’re going to get at it. But as far as him lining up, thinking he can beat any defender, I think he’s confident in that regard.”
With the Redskins losing their top two receivers to free agency (DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon), Crowder has a big opportunity in front of him. Is he a complementary piece on a good offense? Or is this someone who can play on the outside, too, and make a leap to 80 or 90 catches and over 1,000 yards in 2017?
“I feel comfortable just coming off of last year, some of the success I had,” Crowder said. “Knowing that it’s pretty much the same guys calling the plays. I feel comfortable with that. I just want to continue to get better and just make sure that I do my thing once I get my opportunity.”
Gruden has said all offseason that Crowder, a fourth-round pick in 2015, will move outside in some packages and that’s been visible sometimes during open organized team activities (OTAs) so far the last three weeks, including at Wednesday’s session. Crowder has generally remained in the slot, but was pushed outside in certain packages.
“I’ve said all along Jamison can play anywhere. He can play outside, inside. He can play running back probably if he wanted to,” Gruden said. “So we’ll utilize Jamison and try to get him more involved, not just in the passing game and the running game. He’s an excellent player, dynamic player. He just continues to prove every day why we like him so much.”
Crowder’s success, Gruden says, comes because he’s so quick in and out of breaks and is a versatile route runner on vertical stems and option routes. Cousins has long said Crowder’s freakishly long arms (30 3/8 inches) expand his catch radius.
Think of it this way – Crowder is six inches shorter than teammate Josh Doctson and his arms are only 1 ½ inches shorter. That helps him play much taller than his 5-foot-8 height would suggest.
Crowder said it should help him on underneath routes this year to have bigger targets like Doctson (6-foot-2) and Terrelle Pryor (6-foot-4) around him. Whether he gets more of an opportunity or not to play on the outside instead of the slot, Crowder is ready for the challenge.
“At the end of the day, whether you’re inside or outside, you’re running routes,” Crowder said. “That’s what the job description of a receiver is – to run routes and catch the ball. Whenever the times I line up outside, I don’t put much thought process into it. I just go out there and just play.”
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