Deeper wide receiver corps should make it easier for Garcon to escape the ‘cloud’

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Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND – In “cloud coverage,” two safeties and a cornerback play deep, and the other cornerback stays closer to the line of scrimmage to cover receivers who run short routes. The zone defense is designed to “bracket” a team’s best wide receiver, making it harder to connect with the quarterback. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon could tell you all about it.

Last fall, Garcon often faced double teams. Opponents figured that if they could contain Garcon, the Redskins’ passing game would struggle. They were right.

Garcon led the NFL with 113 receptions. Among Redskins wideouts, Santana Moss was second with 42. The Redskins needed balance in the passing game. By acquiring free-agent wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, the Redskins have built what appears to be their strongest receiving corps in a long time.

“He really did get a lot of cloud [coverage], where he had a corner [on him] and safety help over the top,” offensive coordinator Sean McVay said of Garcon, slowed in camp because of a mild hamstring injury.

“Some teams might decide to do that again. Some teams might decide to do that to DeSean. But we’re excited about having some guys we know we can move around, separate and beat man coverage. Based on the coverage, we’ll get the ball wherever we need to.”

With Jackson and Garcon outside and Roberts in the slot, quarterback Robert Griffin III looks much happier than he used to in practice. Coach Jay Gruden and McVay expect Garcon, and the entire offense, to thrive.

“We all know Pierre is a great player,” McVay said. “He’s gonna be a huge part of what we’re trying to get done offensively.

“It’s funny. In a lot of the defenses were seeing right now [in practice], he’s getting doubled, but he continues to do a great job. It’ll be interesting to see how teams defend us.”

What’s ahead:

Washington has a walk-through Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

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Mike Jones’s observations from Day 8 | Images from Richmond

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