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Report Questions Talent Level At WR

Matt Bowen of the National Football Post in his most recent article turns his attention to the Redskins wide receivers and comes up with some potential breakout player candidates in the process: Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. There was little mention of Moss, and Galloway was not mentioned outside the terms “stale or unproven” that seemed to sum up the WR core. The article is here and I will post snippets down below shortly.

But as I just said yesterday, Kelly, Wade and Galloway are getting no love from anyone.  And by many accounts, any one will be cut after their dismal training camp.  I simply disagree.

The 6-4 Malcolm Kelly is young and imposing, he can emerge as a significant threat this year under some veteran WR help, the direction hottest offensive coordinator in the NFL Kyle Shanahan, and the final connection will of course be made by one of the biggest arms in the business – Donovan McNabb.

The veterans Joey Galloway and Bobby Wade, along with McNabb’s tutelage during Hell Week this week will help the younger receivers like Thomas and Kelly come to grips with working on the finer points of their game that are so important. Creating separation from defenders, perfecting their route running to aid the QB’s throw, reading defenses and adjusting to the play before the snap, better blocking techniques to open up the run game — these are all critical things that come with time and practice, but also with veteran teammate experience providing the shortcuts.  One will most likely be cut after training camp, but you never know. I believe that assuming there are 6 receivers on the 53-man roster, there is a spot for everyone:

Moss, Thomas, Kelly, Wade, Galloway, and Austin…. an overall nice blend of experience and youth.  What’s so bad about this group anyway?!

That brings me to my last point of all – Terrence Austin. He is NOT just a kick returner — he is also a wide receiver and a fine one at that.  I myself drew the early comparison to McNabb’s favorite target during his last years in Philly, the one and only Desean Jackson.  There pro day times were practically identical… encouraging to say the least. He shows incredible speed, breakaway ability, good down field vision — he could be yet another sleeper on the Redskins WR list.

So in closing, I don’t see all that much to complain about on the Redskins WR roster — I think a guy like Vincent Jackson would be irreplaceable and still welcomed into D.C. with a ticker-tape parade… but the receivers are in fine shape overall.  It will make a heck of a lot of difference that McNabb is now the QB and the offensive line has seen a big time upgrade.

So back to the report… here were Bowen’s comments:

I love the anticipation of training camp. We can focus on actual football, schemes and players who have to step up and answer some questions about their game.

In Washington, I see those players are third-year WRs Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.

…on offense, we are looking at a WR corps—outside of an aging Santana Moss—that is stale and still unproven. That is where Thomas and Kelly come in. Let’s distance the Terrell Owens rumors for a while and focus on what the ‘Skins do have. These two aren’t rookies anymore and they aren’t second-year wide outs playing in that disaster under Jim Zorn in 2009.

Instead, they now have a QB that I still see as a top-tier talent in Donovan McNabb and an offense that will provide them opportunities to show up on tape.

This offense will change under Shanahan. Expect to see McNabb on the move and expect to see him out of the pocket with what I like to call “movement” passes (boot, swap boot, misdirection, play action). A tough scheme to prepare for as a defense in a week’s time leading up to Sunday. The TE combo of Chris Cooley and Fred Davis will be fun to watch, but there still needs to be production–and big plays–from the wide outs.

In the NFC East, against the pressure fronts of Dallas and Philly, both will see one-on-one matchups. Against the Giants under new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, they will have to recognize zone blitz schemes and beat a jam vs. Cover 2. It sounds basic and it may sound like we are talking about things that every WR has to do in this league to be successful and productive, but I haven’t seen that yet from these two young players on a consistent basis.

And that is what we are really looking at here in D.C. Those opportunities to catch the ball down the field will be there, but they will also need to make plays when a CB is on their hip, in a “jump-ball” situation and when a pass isn’t thrown perfectly. Part of the evolution of a pro wide out.

We shouldn’t care about potential anymore when a player is entering his third-year in the league. That time has come and gone. Now, it is all about playing like a pro and helping this Redskins team compete in the East.

Again, I think Kelly at 6-4 is an ideal candidate for that jump-ball scenario, and with McNabb throwing on the move creating more time for players to get down field… the whole WR core is going to have a banner year. I see Moss having a 1000+ season with 5 touchdowns, Thomas and Kelly both around 600 yards with a few touchdowns each, Austin will contribute with 300 yards and a TD, and assuming they make the cut Wade and Galloway will bring it all home with 500 yards and 3 TDs.

Not too shabby… and that’s not even counting the value of Cooley and Davis as receivers.

[via NFP]

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