- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2017

ASHBURN, Virginia — Josh Doctson, the Redskins first-round draft pick just last year, is still hurt.

Doctson, who has been dealing with tightness in his hamstring all week, was limited in practice Friday and is questionable to play Sunday in Los Angeles, according to coach Jay Gruden.

“We’ll have a better sense tomorrow after the flight,” Gruden said, in reference to Doctson’s availability Sunday. “We have a little practice tomorrow [at] UCLA and we’ll check him out then.”

Doctson was a non-factor last Sunday against the Eagles, playing just 20 snaps and receiving zero targets. The No. 22 overall pick in 2016 has yet to have a serious impact on a Redskins game, missing all but two games last season because of Achilles tendon injuries and having been limited so far this year by a hamstring pull suffered during training camp. 

Gruden said Monday that Doctson would need to earn more reps in practice. Keep in mind this was before tightness limited Doctson in practices Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“I don’t think it is ‘readiness issues.’ I think he is ready to go,” Gruden said. “I think it is something more that he has to perform and he has to play well to earn more playing time. You know, he hasn’t practiced a whole lot. Last year he didn’t practice a whole lot. This year, he has been in and out of the lineup a little bit.

“I think once he establishes himself as an everyday player, he is going to get the reps and he is going to prove that he is one of our top receivers. He’ll get more and more reps as the season goes on without a doubt, but he has got to earn that right like everybody does.”

Look online, and it’s clear that there are many fans ready to write off Doctson as an injury liability who will never reach his potential. Turn on the radio, and the word “soft” is being thrown around a lot. Gruden’s statements have been taken to imply frustration with Doctson’s ability to play through injury. Players like Junior Galette and Ryan Anderson have also had to work their way back from injuries. Galette, like Doctson, had a limited snap count (16) in Week 1, but his ability to stack good days on top of each other doesn’t seem to be in question.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to get our best pass rushers on the field and he’s one of them,” Gruden said, asked if Galette is in line for more work this week. “We do have to increase his role somehow.”

This is not an apples to apples comparison. Galette is still listed on the injury report because of his hamstring, but he’s been able to practice fully all week. Galette hasn’t been available to the Redskins for two years, though, and missed time during training camp and the preseason with the hamstring injury. 

Impact players – and the Redskins continue to say they believe Doctson will fall into that category – just aren’t always asked to prove it Monday-Friday before getting in the game on Sunday. Look at the Rams, who expect to start defensive tackle Aaron Donald after Donald just ended a contract holdout over the weekend. 

Surely, the talent that got Doctson drafted in the first round earns him some leeway. The question is, how much?  

“I’m not saying that you build trust that way but you go through a practice and it’s formulated for you to get certain looks and for you to get the scheme down so you don’t want to, you want to cut down on the mistakes because if you can’t get it right in practice you’re probably not going to get it right on Sunday,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “Yeah. We pay attention to that here and we try to hold everybody accountable.”

 

Doctson is 24 years old. Injuries are a part of football. It’s easy to see all of this becoming a footnote in a successful career.

Consider running back Chris Thompson, one of the brightest spots on the Redskins offense so far in this young season. Thompson only went in the fifth round, but it took him three years to get his health issues settled before becoming a productive player last season. 

It’s also easy to see things going in a less positive direction for Doctson. His Achilles tendon issues were never truly diagnosed last season. Hamstring pulls happen all the time, but his does seem to be taking a while.

The question right now is how much work Doctson could get Sunday if he’s feeling good to go, but hasn’t practiced fully all week. Gruden’s words indicate less than the 35-40 snaps he figured Doctson could be in line for as of Monday.

“Yeah, I think those [reps] will come eventually in time,” Gruden said Friday. “We will see how he does tomorrow.”

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