Scouting the Redskins Receivers

Darnerien McCants

Insiders will take a look at each position, analyzing the Redskins' strengths and weaknesses. Today we look at the Wide Receivers. Key players: Rod Gardner, Laveranues Coles, Patrick Johnson, Taylor Jacobs, Darnerien McCants and Cliff Russell.

Others to watch: Patrick Woodcock. He's fast and Steve Spurrier kept dropping his name during the coaching sessions. But he's likely a practice squad candidate at best.

Make or break camp for: McCants. Count ex-Redskins assistant GM Bobby Mitchell among those who don't think McCants will ever have the instincts to play receiver at anything higher than the level he's currently at. But he showed flashes last year and is highly athletic. As a No. 4 wideout, he'd be dangerous.

Can't wait to see: Coles and Russell in action. For different reasons, too. In minicamp and the coaching sessions it was apparent that Coles is a big-time receiver. He'll make tough catches in traffic and he'll also get open on plays where the DB's know what's coming. The Redskins haven't had a wideout like that in some time. We're also anxious to see Russell, to see if he's anything other than a fast receiver. Coaches have liked how he's caught the ball in the offseason, crediting some of that in part to his Lasik eye surgery.

We also can't wait to see all this speed in action. This will only make Gardner a better receiver, too. With Coles opposite him, Gardner will see fewer double teams. Which means more catches. He's really blossomed into an excellent receiver. Watch how he usually comes back for the ball: arms outstretched, as if he's going after a rebound. It's no wonder he can make so many catches in traffic.

Trouble spots: The Redskins have only two proven wideouts in Coles and Gardner. The rest are question marks, albeit with decent upsides. Johnson has to prove he can stay healthy--and be productive. Jacobs is slight for an NFL receiver, which will make it difficult to get off the line at times. But, unlike other Florida wideouts drafted into the NFL, Jacobs does not have to be anything more than a No. 3, or No. 4, receiver. It'll help his transition.

Strong spots: Gardner and Coles give Washington two legitimate, and excellent, receivers. The Redskins have their Nos. 1 and 2 wideouts and could have the best tandem in the NFC East.

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