Here are the top takeaways coming out of Wednesday’s practice and locker room availability at Redskins Park:
1. The Redskins want to get Jamison Crowder more involved: It has been a quiet start to the season for the Redskins’ wide receiver. A slot receiver during his first two seasons, the Redskins had plans to give him more snaps this year by incorporating him on the outside as well.
But through four games, Crowder has just 14 receptions for 106 yards and no touchdowns. He has dealt with hip and hamstring injuries during the first quarter of the season, but Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said the team needs to give him more targets, too.
“I think you’ll see more of Jamison Crowder, hopefully,” Gruden said. “He is one of our best skill players. We have got to get him more involved in the offense. That is partly my fault, to get more balls targeted for him. Whether it’s quick game, whether it’s getting the ball out in space somehow, bubble screen, whatever it might be. I have got to get the ball to him in space more often and get him the flow early.”
Crowder, 24, was a reliable asset in the slot during the previous two seasons. In 32 games, 15 of them starts, Crowder recorded 126 receptions on 177 targets for 1,451 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. This year, however, he’s on pace to have by far his least production season with just 19 targets so far.
“Fortunately for us, we have quite the dilemma,” Gruden said. “Chris Thompson has been obviously performing quite well. We like to run the ball with our backs, and obviously Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson also. We have a number of guys that we need to get the ball to, but it is key for us to just be patient, spread the ball and get the ball to the open guy.”
2. Perine expected to get an expanded role: It will be a “long shot” for running back Rob Kelley to play against the San Francisco 49ers, Gruden said. If that’s the case, rookie Samaje Perine is expected to receive a larger role filling in for Kelley as the lead back.
Gruden said Perine would get the majority of the carries, with Chris Thompson serving his third down role and Mack Brown as the third running back. Through four games, Perine has 46 touches for 143 yards.
“Samaje runs the ball hard,” center Spencer Long said. “He just has to continue doing that every play, stay physical, make his reads right, hit the holes hard and keep going north and south. I think he does that very well, and I think he will do that.”
When asked about Perine’s success running out of the shotgun, something he did often at Oklahoma, compared to having the quarterback under center, Gruden said Perine has the capability to do both. Gruden considered Perine a power runner, but he said he’s still feeling his way through some of the cuts to make for some of the team’s outside zone runs.
“A lot of them are so anxious to cut back up into the hole, they don’t read them out all the way,” Gruden said. “When you’re in the gun, you just press the line of scrimmage and make one cut and go. I think, under center, he’s just got to be a little more patient with his reads.”
3. Gruden isn’t overlooking the 49ers: San Francisco enters Sunday’s game with a 0-5 record, desperate to get its first victory under first-year Coach Kyle Shanahan. Gruden hopes the team isn’t overlooking the 49ers coming off the bye, with a pivotal Monday night matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles the following week.
“We’re 2-2; it’s not like we’re defending Super Bowl champs or anything,” Gruden said. “We still have a lot to prove ourselves. They have a lot of good players over there. I’ve made it known today in the team meeting that they’re four plays away from being 4-1, without a doubt.”
The 49ers suffered a 26-23 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. They’ve lost their last four games by three points or less to the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Rams, the Arizona Cardinals and the Colts.
“It’s a competitive football team, and if you take anybody for granted in the league, you’re an idiot,” Gruden said. “That won’t happen here.”
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