Pierre Garcon celebrates during a Sept. 30 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The first week back wasn't pristine in terms of appearance, but there are several reasons to believe Pierre Garcon's return to the Washington Redskins lineup will benefit rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
After exploding onto the scene in Week 1 at New Orleans, the recently acquired receiver missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a nagging foot injury.
His 88-yard touchdown reception showed fans why Washington dished out $42.5 million for his services this past offseason, only to be dulled down by an anti-climatic exit.
But the Redskins No.1 target is back and healthy.
With his return comes several positives for Washington's third-ranked offense.
In addition to the obvious threats, Garcon presents opponents with his speed; the fifth-year wideout should continue to improve the Redskins running game on the perimeter.
He offers experience that few current members of the 'Skins possess, and his mere presence alone should help alleviate pressure on players like Joshua Morgan, Leonard Hankerson and Fred Davis.
Here are four great reasons that Pierre Garcon's return will continue to benefit RGIII and the Washington Redskins:
He isn't tall enough to leap over defensive backs. He may not possess the same physical tools that make Calvin Johnson one of the league's best wideouts. But Pierre Garcon does provide Robert Griffin III with the vertical passing threat that the Redskins have lacked for much of the last decade.
Washington's offseason acquisition showed fans and fantasy owners alike what he could bring to the table during the early stages of Week 1.
An 88-yard pitch and catch from RG3 to Garcon gave us a glimpse of why team management valued the receiver at $42.5 million this past summer.
The longest catch to date in the 2012 NFL season revealed the chemistry the two newcomers have developed during practice, and it explains why teammates in D.C. are so high on the 26-year-old Florida native.
Unfortunately, a nagging foot injury (which was incurred on that very play) has held Garcon to limited action since the opening game in New Orleans.
After totaling 109 yards on four catches in the first half against the Saints, the receiver was sidelined for the next two games before returning this past Sunday in Tampa Bay.
Even so, Garcon's 25.8 average yards per catch ranks among the best in the NFL. Yes that is likely a reflection of the smaller sample size, however, the sixth-round draft pick has proven his worth as a legitimate No. 1 option at wide receiver.
Robert Griffin III splits a hole thanks to blocking from his teammates during the Redskins 2012 home opener
One of Pierre Garcon's greatest attributes as a wide receiver is something that will never show up on the stat sheet.
An area of his game which commonly goes undervalued makes the Redskins receiver worth the hefty $42.5 million contract he signed this past May.
Who would have thought run-blocking would make for such a valuable asset in a wideout?
Apparently Mike Shanahan did.
The coach's "blocking requirement for receivers attracted [him] to [Joshua] Morgan and Pierre Garcon during the free agency period in the offseason", according to Rich Campbell from the Washington Times.
And the perimeter running game was noticeably weaker during Garcon's absence.
You see, Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme relies on his receivers to make instrumental blocks on each and every play. And Aldrick Robinson's inexperience was evident whenever he was asked to make blocks on the second level.
Rookie Alfred Morris picked up his first 100-yard rushing performance in Tampa this past Sunday against a stingy Buccaneers defense—all the more reason why Garcon's return was invaluable.
Every year since Garcon entered the league in 2008, his stats have seen considerable annual improvements.
Even after losing quarterback Peyton Manning to injury in 2011, the Colts receiver turned in career-highs in both receptions (70) and receiving yards (974).
Such a trend is indicative of a hard-worker who prides himself on progress.
And that is exactly what the former Division III football player exemplifies on the highest level.
As a sixth-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2008, Pierre Garcon got his first real opportunity in 2009 when Anthony Gonzalez was injured in the opening week.
The second-year receiver from Mount Union finished his second season with an average of 16.3 yards per catch and has been a starter ever since.
Playing for the league's worst team a season ago, Garcon caught at least two passes in every game that he played.
Perhaps the biggest accolade was that the season highlight, a 146-yard two-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay, came with Curtis Painter throwing him the ball.
Now Garcon has Robert Griffin III, a supremely talented, versatile quarterback who has the ability to get his receivers the ball even when coverage breaks down.
A foot injury hasn't helped the receiver's cause for career numbers yet, but don't be surprised if Garcon eclipses the 1,000-yard mark during his first season in D.C.
Pierre Garcon hauls in a touchdown pass during Super Bowl XLIV against the New Orleans Saints
Another intangible asset is one that will benefit more than just Washington's quarterback.
Despite having played only four full seasons in the NFL, Pierre Garcon has more valuable experience than most of the Redskins roster.
His tenure with one of the game's best all-time quarterbacks in Indianapolis provided Garcon with invaluable lessons and development that simply can't be learned elsewhere around the league.
Peyton Manning's assistance unquestionably aided in the progress of Washington's new No. 1 option.
Now, the 'Skins hope Garcon can share those same teachings with Robert Griffin III.
An AFC Championship game victory and Super Bowl appearance are also achievements that few current Redskins can claim.
While it remains unlikely that Washington is destined for greatness in Griffin III's first year, the playoff experience could prove priceless down the road.