Doug Williams smiled Tuesday afternoon. The topic was the young group of players fighting for the final three wide receiver spots on the roster, and the Washington Redskins’ senior vice president of player personnel loves the battle that has burst from a gathering of relative unknowns.
“I think what’s happened is the free agent kid from Alabama threw a hand grenade in this thing,” Williams said in his first news conference since the spring.
That would be Cam Sims, a 6-foot-5 wideout who only caught 41 passes in Nick Saban’s run-heavy offense at Alabama but has made a significant impact with the Redskins as an undrafted free agent. Sims caught three passes in Washington’s preseason victory over the New York Jets last week and had a fourth, leaping catch in the back of the end zone called back after an illegal formation penalty. Both Coach Jay Gruden and Williams have mentioned Sims’s potential.
Williams said he thought Brian Quick “was having a good camp” and was excited about Maurice Harris before he was injured two weeks ago. Neither Quick nor Sims has practiced in the past few days, but neither is expected to miss much time.
Williams also seemed to like the potential of Trey Quinn, who earned the title of “Mr. Irrelevant” when he was the last selection of April’s draft.
“Mr. Irrelevant has proven he could have been Mr. Relevant or could have been picked a lot earlier,” Williams said. “He’s had a pretty good camp and played good in games.”
When asked what part of the team has excited him most, Williams pointed to the development of the defensive line, especially the addition of first-round draft pick Daron Payne and nose tackle Tim Settle, picked in the fifth round.
“We had him a lot higher than the fifth round,” Williams said. “We weren’t looking for a defensive lineman at that particular time, but we looked at it as a young man with the particular ability that he has and the fact we had him higher than the fifth round. It was hard to pass him up. I think that was a good pick.”
Williams seemed happiest about the line’s versatility, saying he believes several of the players can line up in different spots. “We’ve got so many combinations we can play with up front,” he said.
Another player Williams mentioned was cornerback Quinton Dunbar, a fourth-year player whose development has allowed the Redskins to start him alongside Josh Norman. “You feel pretty good from the defensive side of it,” Williams said. “If they keep what they’ve been doing up front, I think we are going to be in pretty good shape.”
Gruden on Tuesday seemed more optimistic about injuries than he had sounded earlier in the week. He said he believes running back Samaje Perine should return from a sprained ankle soon, and he doesn’t expect center Chase Roullier, who was out Tuesday with a groin pull, to miss too much time.
A bigger worry is running back Byron Marshall, whose knee sprain led, in part, to the signing of Adrian Peterson. Gruden has been uncertain when Marshall might return and hasn’t been sure whether he will be back before the start of the regular season.
“We will take that for what it is,” Gruden said.
Gruden also was asked about defensive lineman Stacy McGee, who is recovering from core-muscle surgery and has been on the physically unable to perform list. In a moment of poetic symmetry, a pounding sound of foot against pad could be heard from the nearby weight room, and Gruden laughed.
“He’s karate-kicking right over there,” he said.
Which seemed a positive sign that McGee is getting closer to playing.
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