Wide receiver Josh Morgan and tight end Fred Davis have been all but discarded by the Washington Redskins in recent weeks. Morgan’s role in the offense continued to shrink until he joined Davis on the inactive list last weekend. Deactivations on game days have become the norm for Davis.
But now with the Redskins’ season unraveling, Morgan and Davis could reenter the picture. It is because of circumstances and not necessarily by the coaching staff’s choice, with wide receiver Leonard Hankerson shelved by a season-ending knee injury and rookie tight end Jordan Reed being treated for a concussion. Whatever the reason, the Redskins could be left relying on Morgan and Davis again.
“I think it’s only awkward if you just avoid the situation,” Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday. “Josh and Fred are two of my favorite guys that I coach, just as people. I like the guys a lot. . . . I know last week was tough for them. Any time a coach makes a decision not to use you, that’s hard. I understand that.”
Shanahan said he expects Morgan and Davis to be ready to contribute.
“That would be hard if I got benched as a coach and they just said, ‘No, Kyle, you’re not going this week,’ ” Shanahan said. “I’d be pretty down, too. I can understand being in their situation. But we all have a job to do. People have decisions to make. Whether it’s right or wrong, whether you agree with it or not, I think those guys are man enough to deal with it, and it’s not like we hide from them and don’t talk to them.”
Davis has considerably more rust to knock off. He has played in just four games this season and has three catches. He last played in a game Oct. 13 at Dallas and last had a catch Sept. 15 at Green Bay.
“It’s not really hard because I want to play,” Davis said after Thursday’s practice. “Just to be out there and get a chance to [play] . . . it’s a great opportunity for me.”
It’s certainly not what Davis expected when he re-signed with the Redskins in free agency after his 2012 season was cut short by a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. Davis had been productive for most of his Redskins tenure. He had 24 catches for 325 yards in seven games last season. In 2011, he had 59 catches for 796 yards in 12 games before serving a four-game suspension for a violation of the sport’s substance abuse policy.
But this season, he fell out of favor with the coaching staff while Reed supplanted him as the team’s top pass catcher at tight end. Reed ranks second on the Redskins with his 45 catches, behind only wide receiver Pierre Garcon. But he suffered a concussion during the Redskins’ loss Sunday at Philadelphia, and his playing status is unclear for Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Davis has been deactivated for five straight games and for six games in all this season, including one time because of an ankle injury. He has missed out on a reported $500,000 bonus in his contract he would have received for being active for 12 games.
It seems clear Davis’s tenure with the team is winding down. But he might have one last chance to show what he can do before he departs, even with Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul also in the mix at tight end.
Morgan is penciled in to start against the 49ers, his previous team. He spent his first four seasons with the 49ers before signing with the Redskins, his hometown team, as a free agent prior to last season. Morgan led the Redskins with 48 catches last season even while playing with hand and leg injuries. But he has just 11 catches this season.
“I feel like I’ve shown everything I can. . . . I feel like I can’t control the way the coaches decided to do things or whatever,” Morgan said after Thursday’s practice. “I can’t control the situation. But I feel like everybody knows my talent. Everybody sees the talent that I do have when I am out there. Everybody seen what I did last year with two broken hands and seven screws in my foot. So I don’t feel like I’ve got to prove nothing to nobody. I feel like I just go out there and play football.”
Hankerson had pulled ahead of Morgan in their competition for playing time opposite Garcon. But Hankerson hurt his knee against the Eagles and underwent surgery Thursday.
It has been a tumultuous time for Morgan. He said last week that “I know I didn’t do anything to lose my job.” Then he was deactivated Sunday and said after the game that “Coach said I can’t play football and I can’t talk” to reporters. Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that Sunday’s deactivation was unrelated to Morgan’s public comments last week, and he called it “a little bit unusual to hear” Morgan’s postgame comments.
Note: Defensive end Stephen Bowen and fullback Darrel Young missed practice Friday. Bowen is nursing an injured right knee, and Young suffered a hamstring injury. Young said Friday afternoon he anticipates playing Monday, however.
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