The Washington Redskins‘ wait-and-see class of sophomore second-rounders finally had a game worth seeing.
Receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and tight end Fred Davis combined for 10 catches for 139 yards and one touchdown in the 27-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. It was the best collective effort to date from the much-criticized trio previously best known for injuries, underperformance and an absent alarm clock.
Maybe they’re not busts after all, but simply late bloomers. In the last five games, Davis alone has 20 catches, benefiting from the season-ending ankle injury to Chris Cooley.
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“We’re like the Three Horsemen,” Thomas said Wednesday. “Just stay tough and keep riding, just keep riding.”
Much was expected from Thomas, Davis and Kelly after the Redskins selected them with the 34th, 48th and 51st picks in last year’s draft, but Thomas and Kelly failed the conditioning test before their rookie training camp.
Thomas also had trouble mastering the play book, while Kelly was hampered by a knee injury. Davis was stuck behind Cooley and was most noted for oversleeping and missing a minicamp practice.
The threesome combined for just 21 catches as rookies, had slow starts again this year and were looking like another potential embarrassment for front office chief Vinny Cerrato.
Then Davis got his big chance when Cooley went down with a broken ankle against Philadelphia on Oct. 26. Davis finished the game and caught eight passes, including his first NFL touchdown. He had four receptions and another touchdown in the rematch against the Eagles.
“He was a guy that was nonexistent when we talked about catching balls, and he’s really becoming a factor,” coach Jim Zorn said. “As guys get more time and they start playing faster, then all of a sudden you can see these schemes, these concepts, are harder to cover.”
Kelly said Davis is proving what the threesome can do when given a chance.
“I think if we keep getting consistent opportunities to make plays, then we will be consistent players,” Kelly said. “That is what it is all about. Nobody would have ever saw what Fred could do. . . . Now that he is getting the opportunities, look what he is doing.”
Zorn said Thomas and Kelly still need to work on running better pass routes, but they are finally making plays.
“They’re starting to show flashes of being the receivers that we want them to be,” Zorn said, “and they’ll continue to come on.”
Thomas caught four passes for 46 yards on Sunday, while Kelly added two for 50 yards. Thomas also averaged 23.5 yards on four kickoffs, subbing for Rock Cartwright while Cartwright concentrates on running back duties.
Maybe production was overdue, but Thomas feels the earlier criticism was premature.
“I knew it would come soon or later. I just bit my lips. I knew I would showcase what I could do eventually,” Thomas said. “I wouldn’t say people were wrong for being impatient. I was impatient. I wanted to be out there making plays. Right now is just the right time for us.”
NOTES: CB DeAngelo Hall (knee) is doubtful for this week’s game against New Orleans. RB Clinton Portis (concussion) remains out despite returning to the practice field in a limited role. DT Albert Haynesworth (ankle) was limited in practice. … The Redskins signed WR Keith Eloi to the practice squad.