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Roster Review: Wide Receivers

gary-banner2.jpg breaks down the Redskins' roster position-by-position and identifies potential need areas. Up next: wide receivers.

In the West Coast offense, the wide receiver position always draws plenty of attention.

That means the Redskins' wide receiver corps will be scrutinized by the coaching staff this offseason.

Santana Moss remains an elite-level receiver, but his numbers have dipped slightly since his breakout season in 2005.

At 5-10 and 200 pounds, Moss is a receiver who uses his world-class speed to find open space. Last year, Moss was second on the team with 61 catches for 808 yards and three touchdowns.

Moss has been slowed by groin and hamstring injuries in recent years, something that has been a concern for Redskins coaches.

Late in the season, Moss was back in top form. In the Wild Card playoff game at Seattle, he caught six passes for 68 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown that briefly gave the Redskins a lead.

Antwaan Randle El emerged as the Redskins' No. 2 receiver in 2007. Like Moss, he brings speed--but not great size--to the passing attack. He grabbed a career-high 51 passes for 728 yards and one touchdown last season.

Randle El added 10 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card playoff game at Seattle.

Randle El also serves as the Redskins' primary punt returner. He struggled in that role last season, averaging just 6.1 yards per punt return last season.

Fifteen-year veteran Keenan McCardell, signed by the Redskins in on Oct. 1, stepped into the Redskins' offense and made an impact. He caught 22 passes for 256 yards and one touchdown as a third receiver.

Down the stretch, McCardell faded somewhat as Reche Caldwell started to emerge as a clutch third-down receiver.

Caldwell signed with the Redskins on Sept. 11 to help solidify the wide receiver corps, but he did not catch a pass until Week 11 at Tampa Bay. The 7-year veteran finished the season with 15 catches for 141 yards.

James Thrash, an 11-year vet, completed his seventh season with the Redskins as a reserve at wide receiver and in the kick return game. He also remains a key player on special teams coverage units.

Thrash caught nine passes for 107 yards last season. He saved his best performance for Week 10 against Philadelphia, his former team, when he grabbed five passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

In that game, Thrash suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for four games in the Redskins' stretch run.

In November, the Redskins signed Anthony Mix from the New York Giants' practice squad. Mix played with quarterback Jason Campbell at Auburn. At 6-5 and 231 pounds, he adds size to the wide receiver corps.

Mix was a special teams standout down the stretch for the Redskins. He logged 10 special teams tackles in four games.

Two young, promising receivers, Mike Espy and Steven Harris, suffered knee ligament injuries in preseason last year. They were placed on injured reserve.

That opened the door for Burl Toler to impress coaches. In preseason last year, the 6-2, 185-pounder caught three passes for 26 yards and eventually earned a spot on the Redskins' practice squad.

In January, the Redskins signed former University of Virginia receiver Billy McMullen to the roster. Another tall, rangy receiver, McMullen is 6-4 and 215 pounds.

McMullen, a former third-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles, has caught 45 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns in his career. He last played in the NFL in 2006 with the Minnesota Vikings.

Another January newcomer is Maurice Mann, a 6-1, 190-pounder who has had brief NFL stints with the Cleveland Browns, Vikings and Miami Dolphins.

The Redskins released Brandon Lloyd on Feb. 26, ending the receiver's two-year stint with the club.

#### Positional Analysis

Team officials are on record as saying that a tall, rangy wide receiver is a need position for the Redskins this year.

Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El are speedsters who can get open deep, but the West Coast offense also relies on tall, rangy receivers who can grab short passes and use their strength for yards after the catch.

Mix and McMullen are two receivers who fit the bill for that role. They could be given an extended look in preseason. McMullen played in a West Coast offense in Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Thrash played in a West Coast offense three years in Philadelphia, so he could make an easy adjustment to the Redskins' new offense as well.

McCardell and Caldwell are both unrestricted free agents and their return is uncertain. McCardell could opt to retire.

Espy and Harris have shown promise in the past, but they must prove they can overcome their knee injuries.

Three Wide Receivers Eligible For Free Agency

As of Feb. 25, 2008; names listed are in no particular order

  • D.J. Hackett, Seattle Seahawks: Hackett's a fourth-year player who has familiarity with the offense Jim Zorn plans to run in Washington. He caught 32 passes for 384 yards and three TDs last season.
  • Donte Stallworth, New England Patriots: A natural speedster, Stallworth was a third receiver behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker in New England. He caught 46 passes for 697 yards and three TDs.
  • Bryant Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: A Baltimore native, Johnson is a 6-3, 213-pounder who has served as a third receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. He caught 46 passes for 528 yards and two TDs last year.

## Three Wide Receivers Available In the Draft
As of Feb. 25, 2008; names listed are in no particular order

  • Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma: Kelly comes out as a junior. In just three seasons with the Sooners, he has caught 144 passes for 2,285 yards and 21 touchdowns.
  • Limas Sweed, Texas: Senior season was cut short by a wrist injury, but at 6-5 and 219 pounds, he remains a first-round prospect. As a junior, he caught 46 passes for 801 yards and 12 TDs.
  • Andre Caldwell, Florida: The brother of the Redskins' Reche Caldwell, Andre has 50-plus catches each of the last two years at Florida. He is 6-0 and 200 pounds.
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