August 5, 2020

Washington Redskins lose Carrier, left looking for tight ends again

It was Derek Carrier’s first catch since Week 12 against the New York Giants. The pass was behind him and the tight end made an athletic play to bring it in.

The 6-foot-4, 241-pound Carrier pirouetted to make an acrobatic catch that most players at his position can’t make. Unfortunately, the Chicago Bears’ defender tackled him low, and the hit left the three-year veteran clutching his knee and rolling around the field in obvious pain.

On Monday, Jay Gruden opened his press conference by delivering the sobering news to the media. Carrier suffered a torn ACL and MCL, effectively ending his first season with the Washington Redskins. And while he was originally acquired via a trade with the San Francisco 49ers as a replacement for the injured Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen, he was becoming an increasingly important part of the offense.

(via @CoachDuerr)

“It’s a big loss,” Gruden said. “He wasn’t a finished product and isn’t a finished product. We liked his progression, it’s just unfortunate that it happened. We liked where he was going. He’s a smart guy.”

Good for a catch a game, the Beloit College (NCAA D-III) product finishes the season with 17 receptions for 141 yards and one touchdown in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons. Versus the New York Jets the following week, he posted a career-high four receptions for 39 yards.

Carrier’s primary responsibility wasn’t receiving. Obviously, that role is reserved for Jordan Reed, who has been dominate for the Redskins this season. The big-bodied tight end was developing nicely as a blocking tight end. And at 240 pounds, he was the biggest option at that position for the Redskins.

“Obviously he was our true remaining Y blocking tight end,” Gruden said. “He was gaining strength in the weight room and was doing better at the point of attack and backside. He had a ways to go, but we liked where he was going.”

The next man up for the Redskins is the young and green Je’Ron Hamm. The second-year player out of Louisiana-Monroe has yet to register a stat and has appeared in just one game. At 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, the Redskins aren’t giving much in terms of size, but experience is certainly an area where Hamm is lacking.

Hamm has spent a majority of his time on NFL practice squads, and Gruden hoped that he would be someone they could develop, not throw into the thick of things prematurely.

“He got some reps last week a little bit, spot duty, did an adequate job,” Gruden said. “He’ll get more reps in practice and we’ll have to see how good we feel about it, blocking the point of attack backside.

“We know he can run and catch the ball, that’s a good thing. But blocking is one thing he’s got to work on and [Tight End Coach] Wes [Phillips] has done a good job working on it with him.”

Due to Hamm’s lack of experience and development, though, Scot McCloughan and the Redskins’ personnel staff are exploring other options at the tight end position, Gruden says. Now down to just two true tight ends, one in-house option is tackle Tom Compton.

According to Gruden, Compton “has played a significant amount of reps at Y, has done a good job, so we have that option also.” On Tuesday, the Redskins plan to bring in a couple of guys for a workout, so keep an eye out for a transaction early in the day.

The fact that the Redskins find themselves in this predicament is unprecedented. Plenty of teams have suffered multiple season-ending injuries in a single season, but to have three at one position is almost unheard of. But of the tight ends that the Redskins began the season with, it’s been Reed, perhaps the most injury-prone of them all, that has made it this far.

And because of that, offensive coordinator Sean McVay’s unit has been strong. Despite missing two games early in the season, Reed, the third-year player, has already set career-highs in receptions (67), receiving yards (694) and touchdowns (7). If there’s a silver lining to be found in this problem, it’s that their playmaker is the one left standing.

“There’s just not a lot of tight ends on the streets anymore, not a lot that can do both — block in the core and run routes,” Gruden said. “It’s either you get a big blocking tight end that can’t run a lick or you get a spread tight end who’s a great runner but can’t block a lick. Hopefully there’s one or two out there that we can work out and maybe sign. But if not, like I said, we have it in-house.”

The biggest obstacle that the Redskins will run into by inserting Compton as a tight end is predictability. Let’s be honest, Compton isn’t going to find the soft spot in the zone quite like Reed will. He will, however, block much better than Reed because of his background. So, when Reed is in the game, defenses will play pass. But with Compton, they’ll be looking for the run.

Unless the Redskins find a tight end that suits their system, this does put them in a bit of a bind, but it’s one they’ve been managing all season long. Before preseason was over, they had lost two of their top-three tight ends due to injury. Since Reed has remained healthy, however, they’ve been able to manage this situation.

Carrier turned out to be a diamond in the rough in his 12 games for the Redskins. Currently sitting in a tie for first place in the NFC East, this is certainly not the time for Washington to be searching for options at tight end. Perhaps they can sniff out another playmaker to fill the void and continue their recent momentum.

About Brian Skinnell

Brian Skinnell is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Nationals and college football. He is a born-and-raised follower of Washington, D.C. sports, “The” Ohio State Buckeyes and auto racing. A graduate of Shepherd University in December of 2014, he has a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a Concentration in Sports Communications. Prior to joining District Sports Page (for his second stint), he spent time with Rant Sports, Yahoo Sports and the Washington Redskins. For his day job, he is an Editor for Team Velocity Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Skinnell.

%d bloggers like this: