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Dez Stewart Finding Ways To Improve During Crunch Week


In the final week of practice before the first group of roster cuts, wide receiver Dez Stewart is trying to enjoy the moment and learn as much as he can.

Redskins wide receiver Dez Stewart knows it's crunch time.

After the Redskins' third preseason game this Friday against the Bills, rosters will be trimmed from 90 to 75 players, which, for rookies and players fighting for a spot on the roster, means this game and week of practice becomes crucial.

"I came in right before camp," Stewart said at the end of training camp, "but anytime is the perfect time, so I'm making the most of my opportunities and I'm loving it."

In two preseason games, Stewart has caught just one pass, last Friday against the Jets, in which he was targeted three times. Before Kendal Thompson made a one-handed grab to give the Redskins the go-ahead score, Stewart nearly came down with a touchdown himself, but the ball was knocked away by cornerback Juston Burris.

That couple of inches, the kind that turned Thompson into the hero Friday night, can make or break a player's preseason. Stewart isn't thinking that macro yet, although this week will certainly test his mentality.

"I just came out hungry," Stewart said. "Honestly after being out here being able to make plays with the surrounding receivers we have has made me even more hungry. I just want to keep stacking days and put good plays on top of good plays and good days on top of good days and I feel like everything will work itself out."

So far, Stewart has made sure he's given himself every opportunity. He's developed chemistry with quarterback Nate Sudfeld, his primary ball thrower, and fellow young wide receivers via group text. Sudfeld will text them when he wants to go over game film to fix mistakes. It's made Stewart feel at home in just the several weeks he's been a member of the Redskins.

In his limited time on the field, he's already taken away a few items to work on.

Check out these top offensive shots from the Washington Redskins' 2016 Preseason Week 2 matchup against the New York Jets Aug, 19, 2016 at at the FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

"Making sure DBs don't get hands on you," Stewart said. "I didn't put too much on film to be able to critique too much but that is something I want to get better at. I don't want to be touched at all. I feel like I'm elusive, I feel like I'm fast enough to evade defenders so I want to just go out there and not get touched."

The biggest area to improve and make his name is, unsurprisingly, on special teams, where regardless of receiving a ball thrown his way, he can impress coaches with plays down the field on punt and kick returns.

"That'll help me as far as trying to make this team and that'll definitely help me more than anything with the receivers that we have," Stewart said. "That's the ongoing process, special teams and receiver. There's always things you can do to progress your skill set so we're working on that [special teams] almost more than receiver as of right now. Especially me."

It is a humbling experience for most rookies, but one necessary to make if they have plans to continue their career. It's fair to say Stewart won't have a problem with that, chasing the feeling of his first game experience in Atlanta.

"It's everything I thought and more," Stewart said.  "I got to put on that NFL uniform for one time and it's crazy. That dream of coming up and having fans in the stands cheering for you and even the other team is just crazy playing in front of that many people so it was great. Pretty much what I expected, but it was surreal at the same time. I can't believe I was here warming up and getting ready to suit up and all that stuff."

Oh, and about that first name.

"I'm hoping to make another name for a Dez because [Bryant's] definitely holding it down, and I'd love to slide my name down there somewhere," Stewart said.

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