Head coach Jay Gruden said Monday that he wants to see more consistent practice from Josh Doctson and Junior Galette before giving them more gameday snaps.
As is usually the case with talented players returning from injury, it remains tempting for coaches to insert them into the starting lineup and utilize all of their skills right away. Despite playing a division opponent last Sunday to start the season, head coach Jay Gruden resisted temptation, using wide receiver Josh Doctson and linebacker Junior Galette in limited capacities as they continue gain their stamina back and adapt to the rhythms of the NFL.
It's no question the Redskins want to utilize both of these playmakers, and a season-opening loss to the Eagles makes it feel as though their transitions should be expedited.
Doctson, the team's 2016 first-round draft pick that has been on the poor end of an Achilles injury last year and a hamstring strain for most of the preseason, played just 20 of the team's 63 offensive snaps without a target. Galette, who made his regular season debut after more than two years of being sidelined with two Achilles tears, played in 16 of the defense's 68 snaps.
Sunday was an appetizer of sorts, and a full, healthy week of practice, Gruden said on Monday, will earn both of them more playing time in games.
"You know, [Josh] hasn't practiced a whole lot," Gruden said. "Last year he didn't practice a whole lot. This year, he has been in and out of the lineup a little bit. I think once he establishes himself as an everyday player, he is going to get the reps and he is going to prove that he is one of our top receivers. He'll get more and more reps as the season goes on without a doubt, but he has got to earn that right like everybody does."
Gruden said that with respect to the absence of targets, there wasn't anything Doctson did wrong against the Eagles, just that quarterback Kirk Cousinss' progressions and the plays the Redskins called didn't find him. With more practice, Gruden is hoping the rapport with Cousins will continue to get stronger and develop more trust, which will lead to better opportunities to be targeted.
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"The more plays he makes in practice, the more comfortable that Kirk will be, the more reps he is going to get and that is going to happen. It will happen. I know that will happen. Josh is a great receiver. Now it is just a matter of putting it day in and day out consistently, stacking days together one after another and then he will play plenty and get plenty of catches by the time the year is up."
As for Galette, who would have tallied a sack if not for an offside penalty, Gruden believes he's in a similar boat as Doctson. With Galette's hamstring only recently fully healthy, he wants to see the linebacker put together another strong string of practices.
"We've got to ease him back to make sure he's ready to go," Gruden said. "He's going to earn his right and get more and more reps."
Gruden hypothesized that this coming Sunday Galette could play 25 to 30 snaps while Doctson could play upwards of 40, but that of course will be reliant on how they perform during a condensed practice week as the team prepares for the Rams.
"Just get these guys going, make sure you don't push the envelope too far, [too] fast," Gruden said. "Make sure they're ready to go, and when they are ready, we'll let them loose."