Washington’s receiving corps seems to look different every week because of health issues. This week, because of injuries to Antonio Gandy-Golden and Isaiah Wright, practice squad wide receivers Jeff Badet and Tony Brown could get their first NFL regular season snaps, while taking on the challenge of learning multiple positions on short notice.
Badet, who was undrafted out of Oklahoma in 2018, turned heads with his 4.27-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. But his speed has failed to produce NFL playing time. He spent his rookie season on the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad, was cut in 2019, was later drafted into the now-defunct XFL and was then signed to Washington’s practice squad in September.
Brown was quarterback Steven Montez’s No. 2 receiver at Colorado last year and, after going undrafted, split his offseason with the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants before signing with Washington late in training camp.
The two have an opportunity to follow the lead of Cam Sims, who was added to the active roster this season and had a late-game touchdown against the Giants last week. But it won’t be easy.
“We have a lot in the game plan every week, so it’s hard for guys who are even consistently playing week in and week out,” second-year wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “But for guys who are getting more opportunity, I think it’s more important they study in the building and outside the building. You have to put in the time and the work to study the opponent as well as what we’re trying to do.”
Injuries at wide receiver will also force offensive coordinator Scott Turner to adapt and probably adjust the game plan to fit the team’s personnel.
“You just try to take the burden off of younger guys, not trying to ask too much of them,” he said. “There’s always a fine line. You want to give yourself a chance to be successful but not do too much where you’re putting your guys in jeopardy.
“Guys have to step up. Then, we’ve got to do a great job of preparing these guys that haven’t played as much to make sure that they know what they’re supposed to do and they’re able to play fast and execute.”
Washington’s defense is improved over last year, but significant issues remain. Among them are a tendency to allow big plays. Washington has given up a league-high nine plays of 40 or more yards, including four plays that spanned 50 or more yards.
“Yeah, we’re working at it. It remains a priority for us,” defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. ”… It starts by creating turnovers, being good on third down, being good in the red zone, not giving up chunk plays. [Dallas] is a team that gets a lot of them, so we’ve got our work cut out.”
Sunday’s game will be Washington’s last before the Nov. 3 trade deadline, and it could influence whether the team is active on the market. Rivera has refused to divulge any hints about the team’s plans, but the two players who appear obvious candidates are quarterback Dwayne Haskins and defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.
Rivera said he has not “quit” on Haskins, but it seems unlikely the second-year quarterback has a significant place in Washington’s long-term plans. The question is whether Washington would get much in return for Haskins if they choose to part with him.
Kerrigan seemingly has the most trade value, as a pass rusher who is still highly effective in Year 10. He set the franchise sack record earlier in the season but has played in reserve behind Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Against the Giants, Kerrigan played a career-low seven snaps.
Kerrigan is in the final year of his contract, and it seems unlikely the team would re-sign him, given its depth up front. But for a young team already short on locker room leaders, it may take a hefty offer to force Washington to part with Kerrigan in the coming weeks — especially if the team remains alive in the NFC East race. A win Sunday could go a long way in that regard.
You can thank Carla Young, Chase’s mother, for giving the rookie some extra motivation. Chase told reporters Thursday that seeing his mother in the stands at games and knowing she’s always watching pushes him even more to collect sacks.
“I can’t go out into a game and get put on my butt because my mom, she’ll say something about that,” he said. “So it definitely gives me more motivation when I’m tired, like, ‘I can’t look like no sucker for my mom.’ ”
Injury report: Left tackle Geron Christian Sr. missed his second practice Friday with a knee injury and is questionable to play Sunday. Should he be unable to go, Cornelius Lucas may get his first start for Washington. Four others — all rookies — were ruled out: wide receivers Gandy-Golden (hamstring) and Wright (shoulder), offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles (knee), and defensive end James Smith-Williams (concussion).
Injuries have decimated Dallas’s offense, and the Cowboys will be without two more starters on the offensive line Sunday: guard Zack Martin (concussion) and tackle Brandon Knight (knee). According to reports out of Dallas, Connor McGovern will probably start in place of Martin at right guard.
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