- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2015

ASHBURN — Washington Redskins tight end Derek Carrier is used to adjusting.

When he signed with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 after brief stints with the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles, he knew he had to make a change if he wanted to remain on an NFL roster.

That’s when the former undrafted wide receiver from Beloit — a tiny Division III liberal arts school in Wisconsin — seized an opportunity to switch to tight end, even if it meant adding almost 30 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame.

“Playing wide receiver, it was physical, but it’s a completely different game stock-blocking on the outside as opposed to being in the trenches and blocking guys that are upwards of 50 pounds heavier than you,” said Carrier, who now weighs 241 pounds. “I gained about 30 pounds, probably up until two years ago. I ate everything and anything, as much as I could. It was pretty gross at some points, just how much I was eating.”

On Aug. 21, the Redskins traded a 2016 fifth-round pick for Carrier, who caught nine passes for 105 yards in 11 games with San Francisco last season.



The Redskins desperately needed depth at the position after losing both Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen to season-ending injuries in the preseason. Though Carrier was a late addition, he shed his identity as a pass-catching tight end and worked closely with positional coach Wes Phillips to improve his run blocking. Through four games, he has played more than 50 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, mostly as a blocker in multiple-tight end sets.

Now, Carrier is ready to adapt again. The Redskins will face the Atlanta Falcons without tight end Jordan Reed, who is out because of a concussion, meaning even more playing time for Carrier and more opportunities to catch the ball.

“I think something for me personally, I take pride in being a complete player,” Carrier said. “It’s not so much looking forward to the opportunity to catch the ball more, but being able to incorporate both phases into my game.

“Part of me is really excited I’ll be a bigger part of the game plan.”

Carrier’s pride in being a complete player is what motivated him to improve his run blocking in Washington. Carrier was acquired less than a month before the start of the regular season, but he worked diligently to adapt to the Redskins‘ system.

“I think my run blocking has been pretty darn good since I got here,” Carrier said after the Redskins‘ 24-10 victory against St. Louis.

“I give all the credit to the coaches, helping me with the techniques they use and being strict and lot letting anything slide.”

In last Sunday’s 23-20 win against Philadelphia, Carrier caught two passes for 18 yards, including a 15-yard gain on second-and-16 that gave the Redskins a more favorable third-down scenario.

Reed, who has a team-high 278 receiving yards, proved to be one Cousins’ most reliable targets so far this season, along with wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Reed and Garcon are tied for a team-high 24 receptions, and 18 of Reed’s catches have been for a first down.

The Redskins are optimistic about Carrier’s ability to step up in the passing game this Sunday against Atlanta.

“I think he’s a very athletic tight end,” offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. “He moves around well. I think he competes well in both phases. He obviously hasn’t had a lot of opportunities in the pass game, but you see when he does, he has the ability to get up the field.

“He is somebody that can do some things with the football in his hands once he gets it there because he is athletic. And I think [tight ends coach] Wes [Phillips] is doing a great job as he continues to get more and more comfortable with some of the scheme things that we’re doing technique-wise in the run game and he’s a guy that has a lot of upside that gets better each and every week.”

The absence of Reed also means the Redskins will rely more on Anthony McCoy, who was signed Sept. 7 ahead of the team’s season opener against Miami. McCoy has been used primarily as a run blocker when the Redskins use their three-tight end set.

 

Coach Jay Gruden said the Redskins do not expect to sign tight end Je’Ron Hamm from the practice squad before Sunday. If the Redskins do want to use that three-tight end set on Sunday against the Falcons, they could use right tackle Tom Compton, who has taken practice reps at tight end.

 

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