RICHMOND — Washington Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant drives a used BMW with low mileage that he got for a reasonable price. He has an agent but manages his own finances, foregoing most luxuries and sticking to a budget. “Just live like I lived in college,” he says.
The Redskins’ fifth-round draft pick arrived at training camp with an all-business mindset because, well, he has a business management degree from Tulane. He hopes to work in the oil industry or manage a retail store, but only after his blooming NFL career ends.
Grant has been one of the most impressive rookies in training camp so far. He has sure hands and runs crisp routes, and he caught three passes for 37 yards in Washington’s 23-6 victory over the New England Patriots in the preseason opener.
But perhaps what most stands out about the rookie wide receiver is his demeanor: quiet, focused and mature beyond his years.
“He doesn’t mess around,” first-year coach Jay Gruden said Thursday. “He’s a focused individual, one of the more focused players I’ve seen in a while.”
After Sunday morning’s practice, Grant stayed on the field to run a few more routes and catch passes from Robert Griffin III. As the only draft pick among the team’s four rookie wide receivers, the 23-year-old has an inside track to a spot on the 53-man roster. But that hasn’t changed his approach.
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“I feel like I’ve been underrated my whole life,” he said, “so I kind of walk around with a chip on my shoulder.”
Grant grew up in Beaumont, Texas, and played on the offensive line in his pee-wee league, a punishment for signing up late. The following year, Grant signed up on time, and his coaches moved him accordingly. He was primarily a wide receiver and has made receiving his focus ever since.
The Redskins’ coaching staff has praised Grant for his route-running ability, which he attributes to his past position coaches at Beaumont Westbrook High School and then Tulane. Grant’s head coach in college, Curtis Johnson, was the wide receivers coach at Miami when Santana Moss played there. Moss said the training is clear.
“You can tell where he comes from,” Moss said. “In training camp you see guys with a lot of potential, but the potential is going to be progress. It’s like they have the potential to play, but they’re not ready. I don’t look at him as a guy that’s not ready. I look at him as a guy who every time he gets his opportunity, he’s making a play.”
The question is whether Grant will get many opportunities. DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts are entrenched as Washington’s top three wide receivers. Moss, third-year speedster Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson, who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list, are also competing for spots.
Grant’s chances of making the roster, and his playing time thereafter, may ultimately depend on how many roster spots are reserved for receivers. The Redskins kept five wideouts last season, but they could keep more this year depending on Gruden’s plans for the offense.
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This time, however, the business major isn’t worried about the math of it all.
“I’m not into the media. I’m really not a numbers guy,” Grant said. “I just come out here and try to stand out every day, so they won’t have a reason to cut me.”