The Redskins first unofficial depth chart lists Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson (to the surprise of no one) as the starting wide receivers, but it seems like both will be unavailable for Thursday night’s opening preseason game versus the Patriots. Garcon tweaked his hamstring the other day in practice and DeSean Jackson left today’s joint walkthrough with the Patriots with an apparent twisted ankle. While neither injury is deemed really serious, the Redskins will be without their two big play and high priced wide receivers when they start their preseason schedule. That leaves the door open for some younger receivers to step up.
Now had both Garcon and Jackson been able to play, they would have only been in for a series or two at the most. There would be plenty of reps after Garcon and Jackson left, but probably a fair number of them (at least in the first half) would have fallen to veterans Andre Roberts and Santana Moss who right now are the Redskins 3rd and 4th receivers. With injuries at the top and 4th year receiver Leonard Hankerson still on the PUP list, the Redskins aren’t likely going to risk Roberts and Moss much beyond what the rest of the starters are playing. That leaves over 3 quarters worth of football for the rest of the wide receiver depth chart.
Fifth round rookie WR Ryan Grant figures to be the biggest beneficiary as he will now likely be the 3rd receiver working with the starters (something that definitely wouldn’t have happened if Garcon and Jackson were playing). That could give him some nice reps working with RGIII and going up against the Patriots starting nickel defense. Even when the starters go out, Grant should continue to stay on the field and will be working with the 2nd unit (something that might have only occurred in 3 wide sets otherwise). Grant could even continue to play some into the 3rd quarter working with the 3rd unit, but key here is this time working with the 1st and 2nd unit and more importantly going up against guys who are pretty much locks to make the roster.
The other big beneficiary of the missed time by the starters is Aldrick Robinson. Robinson a 6th round pick in 2011, has been on the roster each of the last two seasons, but outside of blazing speed has shown very little to build upon. With the signings of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts and the drafting of Ryan Grant, it could be tough for Robinson to make the roster. His chances will be even worse if Leonard Hankerson can return healthy from his stint on the PUP list. Right now though with Hankerson on the shelf, Robinson has a chance to earn a spot, and he should get plenty of work with the 2nd unit.
While much of the benefit will be felt by Grant and Robinson, all the receivers down the line should benefit with more reps. Though they are long shots guys like Nick Williams and Cody Hoffman could benefit with the extra reps and if a guy like Robinson falters, they could over take him. Other young receiver Rashard Lawrence, Lee Doss and Rashard Ross will also have a chance to get the spotlight shown on them a bit more.
Now at the end of the day this is just one of four preseason games and it’s unlikely that any final decisions about any of these players will be made due to their performance on Thursday, what is clear is that the bottom of the depth chart will have more of a chance to make an impact due to these injuries and that could cause a shuffling of the depth chart for the next preseason game, and going forward.