- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Washington Redskins‘ 2018 draft class has been wrecked by injuries. Derrius Guice missed the whole year. Geron Christian and Troy Apke joined him on injured reserve in recent weeks.

So for Trey Quinn to be back in the fold this week was something of a boon for Washington, even if Quinn was a seventh-round selection. And not just any seventh-rounder, of course, but Mr. Irrelevant — the last pick in the draft.

Quinn hurt his ankle in Week 1 and spent most of the season on injured reserve before returning to the active roster. Sunday against the Houston Texans was his first game back, but Thanksgiving against the Dallas Cowboys was his more standout performance. He returned a punt 30 yards to set the Redskins up on Dallas’s doorstep, then caught a touchdown to conclude that drive.

“The blocks were set up for the punt return. All I had to do was catch it and run,” Quinn said. “I had the easy part. Then Colt (McCoy) did what he could with that ball. … It was an exciting drive for my first touchdown. I wish I could celebrate a win instead of that right now.”

Quinn played collegiately at Southern Methodist in Dallas, so Thursday was as much a homecoming for him as it was for University of Texas grad McCoy.

“I’m only five hours away from home, so my family was able to come up here on a quick trip,” Quinn said. “I have family in Dallas and I have really good friends I met at SMU, so they were here tonight. My buddies came up, my family came up, so it worked out for me.”

It’s not just Washington’s rookies who are hurt — Paul Richardson needed surgery on his AC joint and is out for the year, and fellow receiver Jamison Crowder hasn’t played since Week 5 while dealing with a sprained ankle. What better timing could there have been, then, for a natural slot receiver like Quinn to return to the field?

He caught the eye of his quarterback, whose trust is important to gain as he starts the rest of the year with Alex Smith out.

“He understands how to play in the slot,” McCoy said. “I think he’s only going to get better and better. He definitely made some plays for us today and we will count on him more. I know I will.”

Quinn also showed how he can lend a hand on special teams. His 30-yard punt return was the Redskins‘ longest all season, and they haven’t scored on a punt return since Crowder managed one in 2016.

Coach Jay Gruden said Quinn has some areas to improve on, particularly given how much practice time he missed while injured.

Trey’s a great competitor, a solid route runner, but there are some things obviously when you’re talking about a young receiver in the slot, with all the different things we ask that guy to do, that he can clean up,” Gruden said. “But I was impressed with Trey’s competitive spirit.”

Since the dawn of Tom Brady, it’s been clear that a player’s draft position has no bearing on his potential if the team fit is right. On the same night Quinn scored his first career touchdown, Drew Brees threw four touchdowns to four different receivers — all of them undrafted in their respective classes.

So crazier things have happened than a Mr. Irrelevant becoming an important contributor for a team as banged-up as the Redskins.

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