Washington Redskins: Why Dezmon Briscoe's Preseason Will Earn Him a Roster Spot

Aidan Reynolds@@aidanreynoldsContributor IIIAugust 29, 2012

Washington Redskins: Why Dezmon Briscoe's Preseason Will Earn Him a Roster Spot

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    Brandon Banks must be starting to hate Dezmon Briscoe. Both Washington Redskins receivers are looking for a roster spot, but Briscoe is the one grabbing headlines during the preseason.

    After being waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—having led the team in touchdowns last year—the Redskins took a chance on him and brought him to Washington. With Raheem Morris now with the team, it’s likely that his presence had something to do with it.

    There is a lot of competition at wide receiver this year, but Briscoe has been taking his chances. He has brought in touchdowns in two consecutive games now, as well as gaining useful yards with each reception.

    This is the kind of performance that gets the attention of the coaches. What follows are the attributes that will earn him a place on the final 53-man roster.


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    It’s widely assumed that Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson are going to make the team.

    These are the guys we are sure of. So how many more receivers are the Redskins going to carry?

    With this sort of uncertainty, the remaining receivers must do whatever they can to remain on the coaches’ radar. Consistency is everything at this point.

    During the second preseason game against the Chicago Bears, Briscoe looked comfortable with his routes, making several catches on slants that were taken in stride.  

    Both Niles Paul and Brandon Banks are having trouble with drops—and Chris Cooley is now sadly gone—so a safe pair of hands is essential with a rookie QB under center.

    Briscoe proved his consistency again in the next game, but for a different reason. With Rex Grossman throwing him the ball, Briscoe used excellent judgment in reacting to an underthrown pass. He altered his route to match the flight of the ball and made the catch, gaining 37 yards in the process.

    Mike Shanahan has definitely noticed Briscoe’s rise during the preseason. Before the Bears game, he spoke to Tarik El-Bashir at CSNWashington.com:

    You can see he is a football player. He has made plays throughout training camp and practice, and he will get a chance.

    Following the Colts game, Mark Maske spoke to Shanahan for the Washington Post, asking him about Briscoe:

    He’s had a couple opportunities and taken advantage of those opportunities

    That’s all you can ask of anyone, really.


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    When looking at the Redskins receiving corps, there isn’t a lot of height.

    Now, it’s not essential to be tall to be a good receiver, but there’s no denying that it helps.

    At 6’2” and 210 pounds, Briscoe is big enough to use his size as an advantage over cornerbacks in coverage. He and Leonard Hankerson are the tallest receivers on the roster and offer a different type of threat.

    Whereas Brandon Banks and Santana Moss will get separation via pace and yards after the catch, Briscoe will beat coverage in the air and absorb contact on the way down. The smaller guys will drop passes after a hit, but Briscoe is a reliable receiver in coverage due to his size and safe hands.

    Following the Chicago game, John Keim mentioned Briscoe for the Washington Examiner:

    Liked Dezmon Briscoe’s size and strength; enabled him to hang onto that touchdown pass. The ball was a little low (but not a bad toss) and Briscoe was hit just after grabbing it, but he hung on for the score.

    While he doesn’t possess the speed of Banks or Garcon, Briscoe gives Kyle Shanahan different options when designing plays. His solid route-running makes him a reliable target for short and intermediate routes, which is of great benefit to a rookie quarterback.

    Some people will point out that Briscoe won't rise higher than No. 4 on the depth chart. However, the qualities described above make him a good candidate for red-zone packages.

    The Redskins consistently use three-receiver sets, but if Briscoe can continue his performances into the regular season then that could increase to four, using Briscoe in red-zone packages.

    It’s between Briscoe and Hankerson here, but the injury concerns of Hankerson are just one more reason to give Briscoe a roster spot.

Reliable Touchdown Threat

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    In 2011, Briscoe hauled in six touchdowns from 35 receptions.

    As Stephen Whyno pointed out for the Washington Times, the only player on the 2011 Redskins roster to get near that was Jabar Gaffney, who had five touchdowns from 68 catches.

    The Redskins have lacked a solid threat in the end zone for some time, with the departure of Gaffney only exacerbating the situation. Briscoe can provide this, even when he isn’t high on the depth chart.

    As mentioned on the opening slide, Briscoe led the Bucs in touchdowns last year, despite not being one of their top targets.

    Probably the best example of this came in Week 7, during the Buccaneers' loss to the Bears. The Tampa Bay offense was struggling to string drives together for the whole game.

    Briscoe, however, was having no such trouble. He had six receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. Four of these receptions were for first downs or touchdowns (via SBNation.com), which again illustrates his reliability. He consistently found ways to get open and emerged from that game as a real offensive threat.

    Despite this, he had just one reception—for 46 yards—in the next game against the Saints and didn’t feature at all against the Texans after that.

    His ability deserved better, and his preseason performance this year has only confirmed it. His lack of special teams experience isn’t much of an issue since Santana Moss is apparently clamoring to get involved.

    Moss has always been a better return man than Banks anyway, but his status has prevented it. With the offseason additions at receiver, Moss will likely have a reduced role. This will enable him to go back to his roots and contribute on special teams.

    However, Briscoe returned kicks for the Buccaneers on one occasion, so he would no doubt do the same in Washington if required.

    He genuinely has the potential to be the No. 2 receiver for the Redskins by the end of the year. It's a bold claim, but that doesn't make it untrue. He deserves a roster spot, and one more solid showing will lock it up for him.

    Let’s see, who are the Redskins playing next...?