Fred Davis’ season ends with torn Achilles

Loss of RG3’s favorite target leaves big hole to fill

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Fred Davis knew something was wrong. He thought it was just a cramp and tried to walk it off.

“I never had experienced that before,” Davis said. “And then when I knew I couldn’t walk for at least five, 10 minutes, then I knew it was something serious.”

The injury was a torn left Achilles tendon, which will sideline the Washington Redskins tight end for the rest of the season. It’s a significant blow to the Redskins and to Davis, who showed a commitment to rounding out his game beyond just being a pass-catching threat.

“This whole camp was focusing on that and just focusing on all that stuff I wanted to get better at. I knew that I could do it and be one of the top tight ends in the league.,” Davis said, wearing a walking boot and standing with the aid of crutches. “But when stuff like this happens, it [stinks]. You’ve just got to get better and get ready for next year.”

Davis tore the tendon late in the first quarter of Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Giants. He was running a route in the end zone and felt something pop. He wasn’t sure if it happened just from running on the turf at MetLife Stadium or if safety Antrel Rolle stepped on his foot.

The 26-year-old tried to hop off the field but eventually needed assistance to get to the sideline and was carted off down the tunnel. His season ended with 24 catches for 325 yards, and his injury leaves a gaping hole to fill.

“Losing Fred is huge. In my opinion, he’s a gamer,” quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “He shows up on game day. Not only does he catch the ball and is he great after the catch, but he’s also a great run blocker. Just a good guy to have out there on the field with you. … He’ll be missed.”

On Sunday, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul filled in. Paulsen came up with a career-high four catches for 76 yards, including a sideline grab on third and 17 that helped prolong a fourth-quarter drive.

“That’s why I’m on the team is for this moment,” Paulsen said. “You want to have Fred the entire time and for the entire year because of the type of player that he is. It’s my job to kind of know everything that he knows in case something like this happens.”

The Redskins are expected to re-sign veteran Chris Cooley, according to multiple reports. Washington released Cooley, who holds the franchise record for most catches by a tight end, in August. The 30-year-old declined offers to sign with other teams because he wants to play only for the Redskins.

“It’d help a lot,” Paul said hours before news broke of Cooley rejoining the team. “If they do bring back Cooley, I think he can come in a be a big influence on this team and have a big impact.”

Even with that possible option, not having Davis is a painful loss for the Redskins. He was Griffin’s top target through the first seven games, and his work on route-running and blocking was paying off.

“We’ve just got to kind of unfortunately move forward and try to replace him, I guess,” Paulsen said.

Easier said than done. But teammates espoused plenty of confidence in Paulsen and Paul.

“It’s huge, but we still have other tight ends just as good with Niles and Logan, who played a great game today as well,” running back Alfred Morris said. “[Paulsen] stepped up in time of injury. [It is] a big loss, but at the same time we do have other guys that are just as good that can get the job done.”

Davis, who turns 27 next month, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He is currently playing on a one-year, franchise-player tender worth approximately $5.4 million.

After being suspended the final four games last year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, this was something of a season of redemption for Davis, who suddenly saw his evolution into an all-around tight end stunted by this injury.

“I had a lot of stuff I wanted to do this year. I was doing it,” Davis said. “These situations happen in football. Any play something like this can happen. … I want to be out there and prove every down. If I could play I would. But some situations you’ve got to deal with.”

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