- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2008

His numbers seem less than ordinary for a second-round draft pick: three catches for 27 yards.

But when Washington Redskins rookie tight end Fred Davis turned in his playbook Tuesday, he left Redskin Park knowing the final three weeks of the season could set the table for a productive 2009.

Following a five-game stretch in which he played only seven snaps and was a healthy scratch three times, Davis averaged 24 snaps in the Redskins’ final three games.

“I think it helped them see what I could do,” Davis said. “I didn’t get to play my game and catch balls like I wanted to, but I was able to get out there and make some blocks and see how fast I could play once I’ve learned the plays.”

Davis said the transition from Southern Cal to the Redskins wasn’t as severe as he expected, but he admitted it was a struggle.

“[Late in the season], I felt like I could just hear the play and think about it less,” he said. “There was no hesitation, and it helped me play faster.”

With starting tight end Chris Cooley catching a career-high 83 passes, there weren’t a lot of leftovers for Davis, who was thrown to only seven times. Davis hopes he becomes a regular part of the passing game next year.

“I’m going to be ready to make some plays,” he said. “I was ready [early in the year] but since they’ve let me get a chance to play, I’ll definitely be ready [next year].”

Fellow rookie Malcolm Kelly can relate to watching games. He sat out three games and had only three catches in five games. In the first half of the season, he fought a knee injury.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “I don’t really have any other way of saying it or beating around the bush about it. It’s kind of crazy because I was hurt more this year than I ever was in college.”

Kelly’s focus this offseason will be to make sure his knee is at full strength by training camp.

“Next year I’m going to have the biggest chip on my shoulder,” he said.

Gray still at work

Secondary coach Jerry Gray, who a league source said Detroit will interview for its head coach opening, was at Redskin Park on Tuesday.

Gray declined comment through a team spokesperson, but a team source believed the Lions would travel to the candidates to conduct the initial interviews.

The Lions fired Rod Marinelli on Monday after they suffered the first 0-16 season in NFL history.

More sacks, takeaways

Sacks and takeaways - a lack thereof - should be an offseason focus for the Redskins’ defense. Washington’s fourth-ranked defense totaled 24 sacks and 18 takeaways this season.

“Creating more turnovers and some scores on defense would be great to jump-start everybody,” defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander said. “We have a good group of guys, but if we could bring in another guy to help, that would create competition and make the team better.”

The Redskins didn’t score a defensive touchdown this year.

Closing the gap

Linebacker London Fletcher doesn’t expect widespread changes to the roster but said the 8-8 record equals a need to improve.

“If you look back, you can say there [are] three, four games where a play here or there and we’re at 11 or 12 wins and competing for a division championship,” he said. “So we’re close in that sense. But we also have to understand that we’re still far enough away that there is a gap between us and being a Super Bowl contender.”

cStaff writer Bob Cohn contributed to this article.

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