*It's been a long year of football for Jamison Crowder, who spent his first season in the NFL breaking Art Monk's Redskins rookie record for receptions. *
Rookie wide receiver Jamison Crowder used the word "long" four times to describe his first year in the NFL. And for good reason.
Crowder was one of many college players that never got a chance at a real offseason. Once Duke finished its bowl game, Crowder was already preparing for the Senior Bowl at the end of January. That began his descent into months of more sweating – working out at the combine, at his pro day and then waiting patiently for his name to be called at the NFL Draft.
There was barely a moment to relax after he was taken in the fourth round by the Redskins. Spring workouts turned into minicamps, which turned into training camp, which turned into the regular season.
"I think I've made it through successfully," Crowder said. "No major injuries, blessed that I'm healthy and you know, just take a little time rest, get my body right, and just get ready to come back, get better next year."
Of the Redskins' Wild Card Round loss to the Green Bay Packers, Crowder said, "I hate that we lost. I really, really hate that. I wish we could continue.
"But you know, right now, it's a little bit of a relief that I can catch my breath and, you know, get my body back right."
Crowder had a productive first season in the NFL, with 604 receiving yards and two touchdowns, breaking Art Monk's team rookie record with 59 receptions in a season.
As he grew more comfortable in the offense, and as quarterback Kirk Cousins found more confidence midway through the season, Crowder turned into a strong slot receiver and third-down option, with 58 percent of his receptions earning first downs.
"I think I'm a lot better player, you know, I've got a long way to go and just the person I am, I feel like I can do a lot better, but I've definitely made some improvements," Crowder said. "Transitioning to the next level just in itself, I feel like I adapted to that really well but now I really want to take my game to the next level."
Every rookie has their setbacks and wake-up calls in the NFL. And while Crowder seemed to transition seamlessly as a member of the offense, he struggled in finding a rhythm as a punt returner, knowing when to call for a fair catch or let the ball bounce behind him.
His longest return was for 16 yards and Crowder averaged just 5.3 yards per return, totaling 158 yards on 30 chances.
"I know that I could have been a bigger playmaker in that area, but you know, like I said, it is what it is and that's one aspect I'm going to try to get better at over the offseason," Crowder said. "Look and see the things that I could have done better so I could put the offense in better field position."
Crowder will take the next month to relax for a change, and then he'll go to Duke to work out with a few teammates and coaches, "sharpening my skills" and knowing the offseason will have stability at the head coach and quarterback position.
"I felt like it was a really good season," Crowder said. "The things we did these past few weeks, we really overcame some adversity and overcame things that we couldn't overcome earlier in the season as far as getting road wins early in the season. That was hard for us to do…We know that we've got some really good weapons here so I'm anxious to see how we can get it back up next year and hopefully we can start it out and get hot earlier and just carry our way throughout."