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Redskins Will Have Decisions To Make With Deep Tight End Group


As the Redskins close out offseason workouts next week, the team will have top decisions to make in the coming months at a tight end position full of talented players.

In an era where tight ends are more involved in NFL passing games than they ever have before, the Washington Redskins have talent across the board at the position.

Of course, Jordan Reed is the headliner of the group. He was named to his first career Pro Bowl last season and experienced a breakout season in 2015 when he became the first Redskins tight end to lead the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in a single season since 1978.

Then there's Vernon Davis, who re-signed with Washington in the offseason following a successful debut campaign with the Redskins in 2016.

After a midseason trade from the San Francisco 49ers – his home for 10 seasons – to the Denver Broncos, Davis admittedly struggled picking up a Peyton Manning-led offense on the fly. He didn't record a single catch over Denver's final five games including a Super Bowl 50 victory over the Carolina Panthers.  

Washington still brought him in as a late free agency signing last year and the 33-year-old didn't disappoint, recording his most receiving yards (583) in three seasons.

But looking beyond the talented one-two punch at the top of the depth chart, Washington has a deep crop of skilled players for tight ends coach Wes Phillips to work with during the offseason.

"There's some good depth there and I don't know that we're going to be able to carry six tight ends when the season starts, but we'll have some decisions to make and hopefully they become real clear," said Redskins offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh this week. "But right now they're all competing and all contributing and we're excited about that."

Among the other veteran options that Washington has to work with includes Niles Paul – a 2011 draft selection for the Redskins – and Derek Carrier.

Check out behind the scenes images from tight end Niles Paul's 2016 Redskins Photo Shoot.

Paul may best be known for his special teams contributions, but the Nebraska product looks primed to be effective on offense once again entering his seventh season.

He missed the final eight games of last season with a shoulder injury but has been a full participant in offseason workouts.

"He seems to be where he was before he got hurt," Cavanaugh said. "He's playing with explosion. He's quick, he's making good decisions, he's catching the ball well."

Carrier, meanwhile, is in a spot he's yet to experience during his tenure with the Redskins: he's actually able to be on the field during offseason workouts.

The Redskins traded for Carrier on Aug. 21, 2015, after Paul and Logan Paulsen suffered season-ending injuries in the preseason, Reed was banged up and Washington's other tight ends on the roster had never played a single regular season down.

During Wednesday's OTA session at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., Carrier had arguably the play of the day with a diving one-handed catch with safety D.J. Swearinger blanketing him.

"Last year I was completely injured, so I didn't get to build a rapport with Kirk [Cousins] or the offense until I really came back and played," Carrier said earlier this year. "So I think that's something I'm looking forward to."

The Redskins then added fifth-round pick Jeremy Sprinkle and free agent Manasseh Garner in the offseason.

Sprinkle brings youth and size to the group, as the 22-year-old checks in at 6-foot-5 and 252 pounds. He's Arkansas' all-time leading receiver among tight ends, but is likely best suited as a blocking-first option at the positon for the Redskins.

"Jeremy is a good-sized tight end with some growth potential who is going to get bigger and stronger," Cavanaugh said. "He seems to be absorbing things very well. He's a good learner." 

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