Maurice Harris’ role could change after Paul Richardson injury
ASHBURN Maurice Harris didn’t just produce a career high against the Atlanta Falcons, he doubled his production from all of last season.
After finishing with just four catches for 62 yards in 2017, the Redskins wide receiver had 10 receptions for 124 yards in Sunday’s 38-14 loss.
Harris flourished from the slot, where he has primarily played the last four games as Jamison Crowder recovers from an ankle injury. Despite his 6-foot-3 frame and average speed, Harris has the route-running skills to get open in the middle of the field.
But as much as Harris has thrived inside, his role could soon change.
With Paul Richardson done for the year because of a shoulder injury, the Redskins need someone to be their new vertical threat on the outside. That job could go to Harris.
“Mo has always been a consistent player for us; not the fastest guy in the world, but he runs excellent routes,” coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s a quarterback-friendly guy, knows how to work in zone, does have the quickness to separate man-to-man, so he’s a great option for us right now.”
The Redskins value Harris precisely for his versatility.
The 25-year-old is capable of playing all three spots at wide receiver. In training camp, he largely played on the outside.
A 2016 undrafted free agent out of California, Harris said he was often asked to rotate spots in college. He insisted he doesn’t have a preference on where he’s lined up.
“Every week you have to be ready (to play different spots),” Harris said last month. “I try to be ready just for that reason. If someone goes down, I’ll be able to fill in and execute. I just try to practice and learn the whole playbook. I just try to cover it all.”
The Redskins do have other options besides Harris to replace Richardson. Washington has been using veteran Michael Floyd on certain snaps when Richardson was too hurt to play. They also have Brian Quick, who has been inactive for the last two games.
Floyd and Quick, though, lack the production. This season, they’ve combined for just four catches for 38 yards.
Harris could be the best option. Beyond his game against the Falcons, he’s shown the ability to come up with spectacular one-handed catches, like he did last season against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Redskins’ offense, which has struggled, could use those type of highlight plays.
With an Adrian Peterson-centered offense, Washington’s receivers have yet to make a splash. Even Richardson, the team’s prized offseason signing, recorded only 20 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns and that leads the team’s wideouts.
Harris is second among that group, as he now has 21 catches for 226 on the year.
More than half of Harris’ season total came against the Falcons. It remains to be seen if that was an anomaly or the start of something new.
“He’s a guy that I think everyone on offense has a lot of confidence in, certainly I do,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “He’s a guy that can move around and we can put in a lot of positions and he can do a lot. ... He’s got a bright future.”