- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2016

LANDOVER |Vernon Davis aligned his shot, then released it in the end zone. Davis was mimicking a basketball jump shot after 13-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Referees watched Davis take the imaginary attempt and threw a flag. The Redskins’ veteran tight end was hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for excessive celebration.

He was surprised. A couple weeks ago, Redskins coach Jay Gruden had shown a video to the team to explain celebration penalties. The league has long said it was illegal to use the ball as a prop when being jovial in the end zone. That’s why Davis was penalized. Yet, he seemed confused afterward about the penalty. Gruden was somewhat irritated by the penalty. Cornerback Josh Norman called the idea that Davis could be flagged for such an act “ridiculous.”

Davis is in his 11th season. He said he has never been flagged for excessive celebration before. He knew he could not dunk the ball over the crossbar. He even thought about asking Gruden during the presentation about shooting the football.

“But in my mind, I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve been doing it. I’ve been shooting the ball and never gotten a penalty. I think I’ll be OK,’” Davis said. “But, of course it turned out to be a penalty.”

It was assessed on the following kickoff. Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood ran it back 86 yards for a touchdown.

“We still got to get off blocks and make a tackle,” Gruden said. “I’m not going to blame Vernon for that returning kickoff for a touchdown but you know — and really, he would never do anything that would jeopardize a 15-yard penalty. He didn’t know. I showed all the videos of illegal celebrations the other day and shooting a basketball through the goal post wasn’t one of them. I don’t consider the ball as a prop on that one. I might’ve done the same thing, but now we know and he won’t ever do it again.”

Norman was less forgiving toward the league about the penalty than Gruden was. Following a head-shaking conversation with safety Will Blackmon about the play, Norman elaborated on the feelings he at first said he was not going to express. Norman was flagged and fined for shooting an imaginary bow-and-arrow two weeks ago.

“It’s crazy,” Norman said. “It’s ridiculous. I guess shooting hoops is frowned up, too. Everything that we do who knows? If I slap my hand on a good play, maybe they are going to call us for that. Who knows, man? I guess suiting up, just coming out on the football field is probably an offense. When is enough, enough? I think it’s just gotten to the point where — fans want to see excitement. They work their tails off during the week. They go to work, 9-5, they get a day off on Sundays to come out here and watch their team put on a show. I mean, shoot, that’s what we are. We are entertainers. Whether you like it or not, that’s what we are.

“You want to have fun with your guys. You want to have fun competing. But, it’s like c’mon, man. Who’s in the office calling these calls? Who’s making this stuff? It’s ridiculous. If they are going to say I’m outspoken about it, so be it. Because this is what we do, man. I don’t understand it man, I really don’t.”

Davis was on the field more against the Eagles because starting tight end Jordan Reed was ruled out of the game Saturday. Reed was evaluated during the week for concussion symptoms and that led to him missing Sunday’s game. He has had at least five concussions in his career.

Jackson shows up early

Two weeks ago, Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson had one catch. Last week, three catches. Those paltry totals led him to publicly say in the week before the game against the Eagles that he wanted to do more. That’s not a surprise since Jackson’s dismissal from the Eagles was one based on their perception of his character as opposed to production, so each meeting with his old team holds a special place in his mind.

Right away Sunday, the Redskins tried to get Jackson the ball. He finished the first quarter with three catches. Though, he had just four catches by the end of the game, falling well short of his hopeful total of 10 catches. He was at least satisfied with beating his old team.

“We just have to humble ourselves,” Jackson said. “We know we’re on fire. But in order to stay on fire in this league you have to take it one day at a time. You can’t peak.”

EXTRA POINTS: Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland was back on the field Sunday after missing the prior two weeks because of a high ankle sprain. He was in his typical spot opposite Norman. …Among the inactive players Sunday was Redskins rookie safety Su’a Cravens. He was also out of the game because of a concussion, and, like Reed, was ruled out Saturday. Cravens caused a stir during the week leading up to the game by posting about his injury issue on social media. The Redskins reminded him of their social media policy after his post on Snapchat suggesting that concussion symptoms had affected his vision. …The other inactives included cornerback Dashaun Phillips, offensive lineman Vinston Painter, quarterback Nate Sudfeld and defensive end Anthony Lanier.

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