Morgan trying to stay ready despite drastically reduced role


Josh Morgan has gone from No. 2 receiver to a seldom-used option this season. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

A year after serving as the Redskins’ No. 2 receiver, starting 15 of 16 games and recording 48 catches for 510 yards and two touchdowns, Josh Morgan has seen his role change drastically in his second season with the team.

During training camp, Morgan drew praise from his coaches for improved explosiveness and effectiveness after healing from surgery this offseason to remove seven screws and a plate from his ankle. It was expected that Morgan would factor into the advancement of the Redskins’ offense.

But none of that has happened. Morgan has started only two games and on average plays only 24.7 percent of his team’s offensive snaps each game. Morgan has recorded just 11 catches for 124 yards and no touchdowns as his playing time has fluctuated.

Morgan isn’t the only member of the receiving corps whose role has wavered. Aside from No. 1 wide receiver Pierre Garcon, everyone else in the unit  Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson and Santana Moss  has seen their snap counts go up and down on a given week.

Yet none of the pass-catchers’ playing time has changed as drastically as Morgan’s.

“Things have changed from last year,” Morgan said.

Asked for the reason behind the change, he said, “I don’t know. I just work here. I have no idea at all. It definitely was a surprise to most, but I have no clue. I couldn’t tell you. I guess it’s just the way that it is, and like I said, we have to make the best of it  whatever opportunities we have out there. We just have to do what we can and what we’re confident and whether we’re in the flow of the game or not.”

The tinkering has yet to yield success, however, as no wide receiver other than Garcon has more than 19 receptions. (Tight end Jordan Reed has 34 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns. )

Morgan opened camp, the preseason and season splitting first-team snaps with Leonard Hankerson at the ‘Z’ receiver spot, but said that things have since changed.

● Related, Sept. 25: Hankerson pulling away? | Sept. 26: Morgan not complaining about role

“That was a while ago,” said Morgan, who is in the final year of his deal and making $5.1 million.

Morgan said that as of late, the only certainty that he faces each week is that he for now remains the team’s kick and punt returner.

But otherwise, his role in the offense changes on a given week, and many times, he and his fellow receivers don’t definitively know how much of a workload they will receive as the games get underway.

“We kind of have an idea, but you never really know. Every game is different,” Morgan said. “Every amount of plays is different. One day we might have 80 plays of offense and the next game we might have 50. It’s all of how the game goes and how the coaches want to do the rotation, I guess.”

Morgan has had two prime opportunities for big plays in the last two weeks, but neither happened.

Against Chicago, he ran wide open in the middle of the field on a crossing route on a play designed for him as the No. 1 target. But Robert Griffin III saw Aldrick Robinson get separation as he streaked toward the end zone and passed to him for a 45-yard touchdown.

This past week against Denver, Morgan again ran open on a similar crossing route, and Griffin threw to him, but the pass was behind the receiver, and Morgan couldn’t snag the throw.

“You just take the bumps and the bruises with the game,” Morgan said. “You can’t control nothing, you just have to try and make the most out of every situation. You can’t really get too high or too low. It always feels better when you win.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins resumed practice at 1 p.m., preparing for Sunday’s home game against the San Diego Chargers. Mike Shanahan, Robert Griffin III meet with reporters afterward.

From The Post:

Outsider: How Redskins set up a key play against the Broncos

S Doughty hopes to play Sunday | Thomas encouraged by progress

D.C. Sports Bog: Helu’s supply of Suave | Morris dancing in an adMore Bog

The Early Lead: Cowboys’ Witten says he loves playing with Bryant

Chargers’ new coach took off the constraints and revived Philip Rivers

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.

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Mark Maske · October 30, 2013