Competition is intense for Washington Redskins wide receivers
Monday, August 16, 2010; 11:28 PM
There would seem to be no more innocuous occurrence at Washington Redskins training camp than what happened here shortly after 8:30 a.m. Monday. Donovan McNabb, the starting quarterback wearing a yellow jersey, dropped back under a gray sky and hit Terrence Austin, then Bobby Wade, then Anthony Armstrong. No defensive backs were in sight, and such a skeleton drill is as basic a training camp endeavor as there is.
Then, there is the matter of how the head coach sees such a pursuit.
"Everything has been charted out," Mike Shanahan said. "Every drop, catch. We look at everything."
Cancel that innocuousness, then, because if you are Austin or Wade or Armstrong or any of the seven other receivers on the field for Redskins workouts this week, each of those drills is being parsed, and each one matters. With only one preseason game gone by and three more ahead, there is sorting out to do in much of Shanahan's first Redskins team. But the outcome at wide receiver, where veteran Santana Moss is in and anybody else could - potentially - be out, may be most perplexing of all.
Thus, when Roydell Williams - a veteran trying to make it back into the NFL after two years interrupted by injury - entered last week's preseason opener against Buffalo, he did so as a second-stringer, because he had performed well in training camp and throughout off-season drills. When he walked off the practice field Monday - after Armstrong caught a touchdown pass against the Bills, after Austin made two catches and fellow rookie Brandon Banks returned a punt for a touchdown - Williams was listed with the fourth team.
"I think I need to prove myself," Williams said.
That makes him no different than anyone else who shows up for work trying to catch passes in Ashburn. Moss, by virtue of his preparation and past performance - 500 career receptions in nine NFL seasons, including 349 in his five years with the Redskins - will make the team and almost certainly start. So the fact that he was the target of just one pass against Buffalo is the lone stat from that game that can be forgotten.
Everything else is important. Joey Galloway, the 38-year-old, 15-year veteran who - for now - is the starter opposite Moss, had only one opportunity for a catch, on a deep sideline route that McNabb overthrew, and enters the second preseason game still looking to impress. Bobby Wade, a seven-year veteran who said this week, "You never know if this is going to be your last year, last opportunity," was the target of seven passes, but made only two catches.
Williams caught one pass - and made a nice move afterward, picking up 21 yards - but couldn't corral the other two balls that came his way, including an outright drop on third down of the Redskins' first series.
"Look at the group we have here," Moss said earlier in camp. "There's guys pushing each other all over the place, guys with experience, younger guys. We got lots to offer."
But when final cuts are made, only five - or maybe six - will be doing the offering. Mike Furrey, a veteran signed during the offseason, has been out of practice with a concussion and appears to be the longest shot to make the team.
Third-year wide receiver Malcolm Kelly has practiced just one day of training camp because of a hamstring problem, and as Shanahan said Monday, "Obviously, if you can't practice, he can't show me anything." Devin Thomas, another third-year player, has been relegated to the third team, but he used three catches against the Bills, including a 44-yard touchdown reception, to reestablish himself to some degree.