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Ike Hilliard Expects Receiver Depth, Diversity To Open Up Offense


The thoroughly talented, diversely skilled receiver group wants to open up the offense for Kirk Cousins to spread the ball around the field.

HTTR might have a new meaning this season: Hail to the Receivers.

Wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard hailed the the depth and diversity of a group that should be one of the best in the league in 2016.

"Along with Jordan Reed and this group, we just feel good about having a group of guys they can get the ball to and they can make things happen," Hilliard said. "Different skill sets, which is good, you don't want to have a room full of the same type of player, so it gives us a few more options, spread the field, so we're looking forward to going in on the rest of the offseason and training camp and into the year."

The diversity of the group is crucial to succeeding in the modern NFL, both with different skill sets on the field and different levels of experience off the field.

"Good mix of youth and experience," Hilliard said. "Obviously we have a young guy we got to get going in Josh [Doctson], but [Jamison] Crowder is coming off of an outstanding year, he's only going to get better and once you add Josh to that mix with [DeSean Jackson] and Pierre [Garcon] and Ryan Grant, we feel pretty good about what we have."

With the Redskins poised for an aerial assault this season, Hilliard is also prioritizing the run game. He's not letting receivers forget the importance of blocking in building a balanced attack that ultimately opens up passing lanes.

"We have to fit up [on blocks] and do our responsibilities as the backs do in the passing game," Hilliard said. "We have some smaller guys, which is not an excuse...we'll do our part in the run game to get it going."

Hilliard, who had a successful career with the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, believes the talent at receiver is making both his and Kirk Cousins' life easier.

"My room is good man, my job's easy because we have guys that can play," Hilliard said. "If you talk to a bunch of coaches that don't have players, their lives are pretty hard. I gotta say we got guys in here that can do something with the football in their hands, we have a quarterback that's turning a corner and is playing at a real high level, so we just need to do what's necessary to be on the details to help this guy be as good as we can be."

Josh Doctson getting mental repsHilliard expressed confidence that Doctson, the Redskins first-round pick this year, would not fall behind in learning the offense while dealing with an achilles injury that kept him out of the action during OTAs and minicamp.

"Josh is going to be fine, I'm not worried about it at all," Hilliard said."He can spit [the playbook] out, he'll be fine, I promise he'll be fine. No issue. He's going to be real good."

Doctson, who in addition to his injured achilles also had an infected tooth pulled this offseason, is using his recovery time to improve any way he can, including working on ball skills and watching tape of his fellow receivers.

"They're taking care of me. [Hilliard] and [head coach Jay Gruden], everybody is telling me that this game is 85 percent mental, so I'm just getting back, making sure I'm getting all the mental reps, hearing all the calls in the huddle and seeing myself do it in my head. I'll be alright."


Take a look back at the top images of the Washington Redskins' wide receivers from the 2015 season.

Desean Jackson working on strength to combat injuries**After battling hamstring injuries last year, Jackson spent his offseason with his family on the West Coast while working on his strength.

"I've dedicated my offseason to getting in the weight room and getting a little more physical just to keep the durability up during the year," Jackson said. "Even though I haven't been here that much, I have dedicated my time to that."

Hilliard doesn't think Jackson's strength was ever a concern and is confident that the veteran wide receiver knows how to sharpen his game while away from the team facility.

"DeSean can get off the ball, DeSean gets through a run," Hilliard said. "Last year we obviously had a hamstring injury during the first game. He's a veteran guy, he knows what's expected of him, and we expect him to come in here and be the same guy he's been for the last couple of years prior to the injury. I'm not worried about D-Jax at all, in the slightest, he understands the offense and what we're asking him to do and he's going to be fine."

Rashad Ross impressing coaches with improvementRashad Ross has made strides improving his game this offseason as the he tries to make the roster at one of the most competitive positions on the team.

Hilliard is pleased with the progress he has seen from his second-year player.

"Rashad has come around, I'm actually really proud of the things he's put on tape this offseason," Hilliard said. "He's gotten better at being a good knee bender in his routes, so he's on balance, he's coming out of his cuts pretty good. You know he had a couple days where he didn't catch the ball necessarily well but that happens to all of us. Considering where Rashad was a couple years ago and where he is now, he has a good chance to make this team again this year."

Ross feels he has a chemistry with Cousins after the two worked out after practice during OTAs last year before Cousins was named the starter. On special teams, he has worked on returning punts this offseason to increase the versatility he brings the team.

"I would say this should is the year [I will have more swagger] because last year I was coming in and getting my feet wet last year, not knowing what to expect, and just going with the motions and trying to be the best that I can be," Ross said. "Now in having more understanding of this NFL period and, with kick returning and how I am supposed to read my blocks will make me a better player. Now, instead of me just going out there and being reckless I have the brains with it. It's just getting reps and actually playing and getting that first year under my belt that will make me a better player for this year."

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