Rookie wide receiver Ryan Grant plays beyond his years

RICHMOND — With DeSean Jackson sitting out of Saturday’s practice to rest his sore legs, Washington Redskins rookie wide receiver Ryan Grant saw some time with the starters. In a number of instances, the transition wasn’t necessarily seamless.


Redskins rookie receiver Ryan Grant has impressed new coach Jay Gruden with his savvy play in training camp. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The soft-spoken Grant is a perfect foil for the flamboyant Jackson, and when it comes to speed, there’s no mistaking the fleet-footed Jackson with the pedestrian wheels on the fifth-round pick out of Tulane. But even with a plethora of options to choose from at wide receiver, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden isn’t shy about his comfort with the unproven yet evolving Grant.

“Every rookie handles [their first training camp] differently,” Gruden said Saturday. “Some rookies are basket cases, some are cool, calm and collected. Ryan Grant looks like he’s been here for ten years. He’s handled it perfectly.”

That includes quickly coming to terms with the fact that, barring injury, the Redskins’ top three at wide receiver are pretty much set in stone with Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts. The trio, plus 35-year-old Santana Moss, have what Grant doesn’t — speed, strength and experience. Still, the 6-foot, 193-pounder is crafty for his size and age (23), using precise and fluid route-running as well as a sure-handed ability to snag catches in traffic as ways to make his presence felt..

With Leonard Hankerson on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list while recovering from a knee injury suffered last season and Aldrick Robinson working through inconsistency, Grant finds himself in an open competition to secure the fourth or fifth receiver spot. Grant, however, isn’t one to take anything for granted, which is why he’s making the most of his opportunities, no matter what position or with which unit he lines up.

“I guess it’s a wake-up call that I won’t be able to play receiver right away. I’m okay with it. I got veteran receivers I can learn from,” Grant said following Saturday’s practice. “If I make the roster, I feel like I could help out at the receiver position but more so on special teams. I think last year the Redskins were 32nd overall in special teams, so I just want to come in and contribute as much as possible no matter where I’m at on the field.”

As a senior at Tulane, Grant recorded 1,039 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, prompting the Redskins to take him in the fifth round, marking the team’s first drafted wide receiver since 2011, when they selected Hankerson, Robinson and Niles Paul. Grant’s size and smooth acceleration into open space make him a potential option in the slot for the Redskins in their various offensive packages.

“I just want to show that they can trust me, catching the ball, getting open, depending on me for special teams,” Grant said. “No matter which job it is, just getting them to build trust in me because I’ll get the job done.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

After a day off Sunday, the Redskins return to camp Monday morning for an 8:35 a.m. practice. They’ll be joined in Richmond by the New England Patriots. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

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Mike Jones’s observations from Day 10Photo gallery

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Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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