5 Washington Redskins Who Must Step Up After Fred Davis' Injury
And according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports:
Redskins tight end Fred Davis, who signed a one-year franchise tender for 2012, probably won’t be on the wrong end of the franchise tag again.
Davis, we’re told, has a torn Achilles tendon. It means that he’ll most definitely miss the rest of the year.
This is most definitely an unfortunate set of circumstances for Davis and the Redskins. Still, injuries are part of the game, so being prepared in advance is necessary to sustain consistent execution.
That holds especially true when the offense fields a rookie quarterback like Robert Griffin III. The last thing a team needs is for unprepared guys to step in, because that would only enhance the NFL's difficulty for the rookie.
With that, let's check out who must now contribute more for Washington's offense to keep rolling.
Robert Griffin III, QB
As obvious as Robert Griffin III needing to step up sounds, it's also imperative.
Fred Davis was his leading receiver in yards, receptions, targets, first downs and yards after the catch.
That's relying on one player quite a bit, so as the year progresses it will be interesting to see how RG3 adjusts. He's certainly still a viable rushing threat off play-action and read-option, although surveying the field and having more confidence in his other receiving weapons is a must.
Factor in the impact tight ends have made throughout recent seasons to this pass-oriented movement and Washington's 2012 difficulty has significantly increased. Defenses will likely play more zone coverage against the Redskins, so RG3 must become even more patient in the pocket.
Josh Morgan, WR
Entering Week 7, Josh Morgan was Washington's fourth-leading receiver, with 201 yards on 16 receptions.
What's impressive, though, is that he was only targeted 20 times through the first six games, so Morgan has clearly established dependability when given playmaking opportunities.
In addition, 10 of his 16 catches had moved the chains, and it's not like Morgan constantly faces double coverage. Possessing solid size to be available over the middle and between cover-2 safeties, Morgan needs to press harder downfield and stretch defenses with Davis out.
That will simply open up everything underneath and take quite a bit of pressure off RG3 when dropping back. Plus, he can become that fade threat against one-on-one when defenses blitz inside.
Niles Paul, TE
Compared to Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul is the smallest Redskins tight end.
In turn, that makes him more of a receiving threat and just another player for RG3 to target. After six games, he only had four catches for 43 yards, but that was obviously due to Davis and Washington's other receivers.
Nevertheless, it's now time for Paul to become a viable option in Mike Shanahan's offense. Paul will never see double coverage or even a zone schemed to isolate his production chances. As he's not nearly as established as Davis or anyone else, he may have a competitive advantage when looking to make an impact.
If anything, expect Paul to be another possession target at the intermediate level because of Griffin's ability to extend plays and keep defenses off balance.
Aldrick Robinson, WR
We totally anticipate that Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss will remain RG3's two leading wide receivers, but Aldrick Robinson now has an opportunity to make a vital impact.
What can give Redskins fans confidence is Robinson's decent production of 102 yards on six catches and a touchdown through the first two weeks of the season. The downside is that he's had just one reception over the past two games, although much like everyone else, he now has a bigger opportunity to keep Washington moving.
In any three- or four-receiver sets, Robinson has to quickly get open on slants, crossing routes and outs to allow RG3 the luxury of spreading the field. It's one thing to utilize an array of targets, but another to use those weapons through each dimension of the field.
Robinson won't see double coverage, and when he isn't facing press coverage, a quick/bubble screen is a great audible option for yards after the catch. If Robinson manages to make a strong impact, the Redskins will field one complete offense.
Logan Paulsen, TE
With all the talk about how Washington must adjust without Davis, using a more balanced approach isn't the worst of ideas either.
And tight end Logan Paulsen provides that option to attack any defense. For one, the man is 6'5", 261 pounds, which makes him great for run-blocking and also makes the play-action pass more relevant to a defense.
Although Paulsen is not known as a receiving threat, the guy gets quite a few yards after the catch. On just 11 catches in 2011, Paulsen averaged 12.5 yards per reception, and that number has increased in 2012.
By no means will he thrash any defense, but his four catches for 76 yards on Sunday against the Giants have displayed his ultimate potential. As long as RG3 continues to get the most from all his targets, we'll see Paulsen's overall contributions increase.
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