Fred Davis: Redskins Players Who Must Step Up in Star TE's Absence

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Fred Davis: Redskins Players Who Must Step Up in Star TE's Absence
Larry French/Getty Images

Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis doesn't fit the mold of other dynamic players at his position, but his role in Mike Shanahan's offense was vital to the success of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. 

After Davis suffered a torn Achilles against the Giants that ended his season (per Adam Schefter of ESPN), an air of uncertainty hovered over the nation's capital. 

Remember, Davis was leading the Redskins in receptions (24) and receiving yards (324). He was second on the team in targets (31) and receptions of at least 20 yards (four). 

Losing a player like that is going to require everyone else on the offense to step up their game if the Redskins want to maintain their high level of performance the rest of the way. 

Here are the players that need to take a step forward in the coming weeks to keep Griffin and the offense flowing like normal. 

Chris Cooley, TE

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To replace Davis' spot on the roster, the Redskins went back to a player they know very well. Cooley was released before the season started after falling behind Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul on the depth chart. 

Cooley has struggled with injuries in recent years, playing in just five games last season and seven games in 2009. But when he is on, he can be one of the better tight ends in the league. 

In eight seasons with the Redskins, Cooley had 428 catches and 33 touchdowns. He is just 30 years old, so we are not talking about an over-the-hill player trying to recapture his former glory. 

We have to wait and see just how much the Redskins are going to use him, but his upside is greater than that of Paulsen or Paul right now.

Josh Morgan, WR

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The Redskins spent roughly $54 million this offseason to bring in Morgan and Pierre Garcon to help Griffin's transition to the NFL go as smooth as possible. 

While Griffin has been better than advertised, Morgan has been invisible on the field, and Garcon can't stay healthy long enough to make any sort of impact. 

Morgan has just 18 catches for 217 yards and no touchdowns so far this season. He was not exactly a pass-catching wizard in four years with San Francisco, though he did have a two-year window where he caught 96 passes for over 1,200 yards. 

This season has been a disaster in every way for Morgan. He had a terrible personal foul penalty called on him in a game against St. Louis that cost the Redskins 15 yards and a missed field goal at the end of regulation. 

With Davis gone, Morgan should start to get a lot more looks in this offense. He has good hands and the ability to run routes; he just needs to figure out how to separate from defenders enough to make plays. 

Leonard Hankerson, WR

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Last but certainly not least, Hankerson has emerged as the go-to-guy for Griffin in this offense. He is third on the team in receiving yards with 277, second in receptions (22) and first in times targeted (33). 

In just his second season, Hankerson is starting to look a lot more comfortable in the NFL. He has caught a pass in six straight games, had at least one 20-yard reception in four of the last six games and just had his single-best day in terms of yardage (70) against the Giants in Week 7. 

Santana Moss is still the home-run threat on the outside for the Redskins, but Hankerson is turning into the do-it-all receiver who can make plays anywhere.

If Hankerson can start to take some of the yards that Davis was getting over the middle, this offense could see its already-terrific production start to explode. 

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