RICHMOND — There’s been a change in Josh Doctson.
His teammates say they can see the growth, the uptick in confidence and his maturation into more of a complete player. And according to Redskins tight end Jordan Reed, Doctson is on the verge of a breakout season.
“He’s going to dominate this year. He’s going to ball out for sure, ” Reed said of the 2016 first-round pick.
Expectations are always high in training camp, but Reed insisted that his confidence in his pass-catching partner is rooted in visible signs of improvement, not lip service.
“Just watching him,” Reed said of Doctson, who caught 35 passes for 502 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 16 games last year. “I’ve been with him for three years now and this is the best he’s looked to me — by far. Just the way he’s attacking the ball and controlling his body and running his routes. His body control is off the charts. He’s looking great.”
The admiration is mutual.
“I love him as a player, man,” Doctson recently said of Reed, a proven focal point in Washington’s offense. “That’s the first person I admired when I got in here. Just how he’s so big and can move around. He’s just a natural, fluid player.”
The two share more than just pure athleticism and vital roles within Jay Gruden’s offensive schemes.
Both Reed, 28, and Doctson, 25, have seen their promising NFL careers interrupted by injuries. Doctson, who missed all but two games his rookie season due to a nagging Achilles’ tendon injury, underwent a precautionary MRI on his Achilles’ two days before reporting to this year’s camp. He told reporters it was just a “tuneup.” On Wednesday, he suffered a shoulder injury during a practice collision with cornerback Josh Norman. The next morning, Gruden said Doctson was “okay” but it’s still unclear if the receiver will play in the Redskins’ preseason opener Thursday at New England.
Meanwhile, injuries have also hindered the 6-foot-2 Reed over his first five years in Washington. He played in only six games during his first two seasons and has missed a total of 28 games since being drafted in the third round in 2013. Recently, he admitted that he “didn’t feel like myself” during the entire 2017 season because of lingering toe pain that required two surgeries.
According to Reed, the shared experiences of frustration, uncertain recovery timetables and missed games helped forge an even stronger bond between them.
“We definitely lean on each other when we’re going through a hard time with an injury or something like that,” Reed said, “Or just anything off the field, like life. Period. We lean on each other in the locker room. That’s what teammates are for.”
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