Redskins Training Camp Battles: Wide Receivers

Matt Sullivan

Dan Ciarrocchi examines the battle for roster spots among Redskins wide receivers.

Twenty-three days until training camp. Let's take a look at the receivers the Redskins will host:

Pierre Garcon will return to his spot as the No. 1 receiver. The only question surrounding Garcon doesn't revolve around his production; he was a true difference maker, albeit in a limited sample size. Garcon showed exceptional burst on bubble screens and drag routes, an ability to stretch the field, and the nice surprise was how he mauled defenders as a run blocker. The real question is how his health will hold up. A foot injury that Garcon sustained in Week 1 sidelined him for six games and never fully healed during the season. However, when Garcon returned to the team down the stretch, he showed no signs of being slowed by his injury.

Joshua Morgan also dealt with a nagging injury in 2012, though he did not miss any time for it. Morgan missed most of the 2011 season with the San Francisco 49ers after suffering a broken ankle, and he didn't display the same explosiveness he possessed prior. Reports indicate that Morgan is now back to form after undergoing surgery in January to remove seven screws that were put in to repair the injured ankle. He also underwent surgery on his hands, though the receiver told CSN Washington's Tarik El-Bashir that he has no trouble catching the ball or throwing blocks.

Leonard Hankerson faces a lot of pressure as his third season approaches, though he will every chance to prove himself to the coaching staff this summer. In 2012, he was hampered in camp while coming back from a hip injury that he suffered in his first career NFL start, a game where he caught eight passes for 106 yards. He's fully healthy in 2013, and he better be, because he has a lot of work to do if he wants to meet the lofty expectations set for him. Hankerson is blessed with strength and huge hands, but he isn't doesn't create as much separation as his size should dictate. He's just 25 years old and there's no reason to think he can't improve, but it's worth noting the clock will tick for him louder this year than ever before.

Santana Moss is the consistent veteran who you just can't say enough about, surviving Jason Campbell, Donovan McNabb, John Beck and countless other Redskins quarterbacks. With a capable Robert Griffin III at the helm last season, Moss showed he still has what it takes to produce, as evidenced by his eight touchdown receptions and 573 receiving yards on a run-first offense. His age is the only thing that can slow him down, but it's still a valid concern at 34 years old. But barring a visibly huge dropoff in his play, Moss will be safe to make the Redskins' final 53 for his ninth straight season.

Aldrick Robinson has been deployed as the Redskins' field-stretcher and not much else. That's not a knock on him though, as he's done an exceptional job getting behind defenses and finding another gear when the ball is in his hands. I'm under the impression that if his role were to expand, he could do tremendous things. An expanded role for him this year doesn't seem likely unless an injury was to occur, but the evidence suggests that Robinson is very much in the Shanahans' game plan and could be for years to come.

The real battle begins with newcomers Devery Henderson and Donte Stallworth. Stallworth brings a veteran presence and familiarity with Kyle Shanahan's system after playing for him in 2011, and Henderson brings the highest yards per catch average of any active NFL player. Though Henderson's better days are behind him, don't be breaks out a couple long ones this preseason.

Dezmon Briscoe made the final 53 a season ago, but saw all of 49 snaps and didn't dress after Week 9. He has a lot more competition this season, especially given that Morgan and Garcon look good to go. He's a longshot to make the roster once again, and would probably need to have a preseason like Victor Cruz's in 2010 to garner roster consideration.

That leaves Lance Lewis, who attended camp last season and was invited back, as well as rookies Skye Dawson, Chip Reeves and Nick Williams, all of which are camp bodies and likely nothing more.

The real question is how many receivers the team will carry. Garcon, Morgan, Hankerson, Moss and Robinson are locks, but there's always a chance the team could carry one more. If so, that will come down to a battle between Stallworth, Henderson and Briscoe as a dark horse. The team carried seven receivers last season and eight in 2011, but with the depth needed elsewhere, such as tight end and safety, the Redskins should stick with a much lower number than in recent seasons.

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