With Fletcher ailing, Alexander could start

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With Fletcher ailing, Alexander could start

If London Fletcher does not suit up Sunday in Pittsburgh, it's possible reserve Lorenzo Alexander will replace the venerable veteran and join the starting lineup for the first time since 2010.

Fletcher has played in 231 consecutive games, the longest streak among active players in the NFL. But the 37-year-old suffered a strained right hamstring Sunday and began complaining of balance problems Monday.

Fletcher did not practice Wednesday and was scheduled to be examined by a neurologist later in the day. He did not appear to practice Thursday, either.

Coach Mike Shanahan is expected to provide an update on Fletcher's status Thursday afternoon.

“Hopefully he’ll be cleared,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “We feel good [about] Lorenzo and Keenan” Robinson.

Alexander, meantime, started 12 games at linebacker in 2010 and saw ample time there against the Vikings, recording 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery deep in Minnesota’s end.

When Fletcher left Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium early in the fourth quarter, Alexander stepped in. Robinson also saw time at Fletcher's inside linebacker position.

“They did a nice job when they stepped in for London last week,” Haslett said. “It would be weird, a different feeling obviously” without Fletcher.

If Fletcher can’t go, it also could potentially change the complexion of a key matchup. Fletcher normally would assist in covering Heath Miller, the Steelers’ 6 foot 5, 256-pound tight end who’s averaging five receptions a game. That responsibility would then fall on Alexander, who has significantly less experience in pass coverage.

“London is awesome on the tight ends,” Haslett said. “Heath is a heck of a player. 'Zo will have his work cut out for him in that area. But he’ll be up to the challenge.”

New Redskins WR Doctson provides update on his surgically repaired wrist

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New Redskins WR Doctson provides update on his surgically repaired wrist

New Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson says he’s fully recovered from the wrist injury that cut short his senior season at TCU.

Doctson, who was drafted No. 22 overall by Washington on Thursday, had pins surgically inserted into his left wrist after a defender fell on him during the Horned Frogs’ 49-29 loss at Oklahoma State on Nov. 7.

Doctson missed TCU’s final two regular season games and eventually was ruled out of the Alamo Bowl, as well. The 6 foot 2, 202 pounder was also forced to withdraw from the Senior Bowl.

Doctson, however, told reporters on Thursday night that he’s been full-go since late February.

“I was full strength by the end of the combine,” he said via conference call from Chicago. “There’s nothing wrong with my wrist, nothing wrong with my body.”

Doctson added: “Everything is working 100 percent, and like I said, I’m ready to get back on the field.”

Which, of course, is good news since the Redskins plan to use their new receiver extensively in 2016 and he’ll need all of the practice reps he can get this spring and summer. Rookie minicamp is scheduled to be held at Redskins Park early next month and will be followed by the start of OTAs on May 24.

High marks for Redskins after selecting Josh Doctson in 1st round of NFL Draft

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High marks for Redskins after selecting Josh Doctson in 1st round of NFL Draft

Is it preposterously early to grade a draft class? Absolutely. Will that stop the Internet? Absolutely not.

On the heels of Thursday night's marathon first round of the NFL draft, multiple publications released grades for all the teams that took part in the action in Chicago.

Far from the early picks and the wild scenario that unfolded surrounding Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil, the Redskins patiently waited for their pick at No. 21. When their turn came, they traded down one slot with Houston - in turn nabbing an extra 6th round pick - and selected TCU WR Josh Doctson at 22.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden sounded excited by the pick in comments to the media Thursday night.

"It’s about taking the best player on the board and Josh was clearly the best player on the board at that time for us," Gruden said. 

Doctson may not immediately start for Washington, but with 2016 the last year of Pierre Garçon and Desean Jackson's contracts, there is plenty of playing time ahead for the rookie speedster.

"He’ll get plenty of opportunities down there in the red zone," Gruden said of the 6'4" rookie with a 41-inch vertical. "He’s got to earn his stripes. We have a very good receiving corps, no question about it."

A vocal group of fans clamored via social media after the pick that redskins GM Scot McCloughan needed to focus on defense, but some NFL analysts disagreed. Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar gave the Redskins selection an A+, writing, "Doctson is especially strong when asked to compete with cornerbacks and safeties on 50/50 balls, and he combines size, strength and speed to be one of the class's best talents at any position. Kirk Cousins just got himself a very good red-zone target and a perfect fit for Jay Gruden's West Coast offense."

Pro Football Focus echoed similar sentiments, giving the Redskins an A.

"After moving back a spot, Washington gets one of the draft’s best receivers in Doctson, whose +28.9 receiving grade led the nation in 2015. Doctson has incredible body control, making downfield catches over defenders with regularity and separating well in the intermediate game," PFF's Steve Palazzolo wrote. "Doctson’s catch radius will make Redskins QB Kirk Cousins look even better and he adds yet another dimension to an already well-rounded passing game."

Considering an array of top defensive prospects remain - like the trio of Alabama players Reggie Ragland, Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson are available, as is UCLA LB Myles Jack and a host of others- odds of Washington grabbing an impact defensive front seven player remain strong.

"You look into all that, depth of other positions on defense. It is a good draft for that," Gruden said. "It is a very deep draft at a lot of positions for that matter. We feel like we can still add to this roster and get some quality players – second, third, fourth, fifth rounds."

Analysts liked McCloughan's selection of Doctson, as did the Redskins coach. For many fans, however, the jury is stil out. What did you think? Let us know in the comments.

Gruden compares Doctson to Bengals Pro Bowl receiver

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Gruden compares Doctson to Bengals Pro Bowl receiver

Yes, Jay Gruden went there.

Shortly after the Redskins drafted Josh Doctson the Redskins head coach went to the podium and compared the wide receiver to a receiver who played for Gruden when he was the Bengals offensive coordinator. A very good player.

“[Doctson] reminded me a lot of A.J. [Green] that we took a couple years ago in Cincinnati. He’s six-foot-two, A.J. was six-foot-four, but he’s got that same type of body control and the ability to high point it which is big time.”

The Bengals drafted Green with the fourth pick of the first round in 2011, the same year that Gruden came to Cincinnati. In five years in the NFL, Green has made the Pro Bowl five times. He has averaged 83 receptions, for 1,234 yards and nine touchdowns per season. The performance was good enough to earn his a four-year, $60 million contract extension prior to last season.

The Redskins would be ecstatic if the can get such production out of Doctson and it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him. But he certainly doesn’t need the comparison or to be referred to as “the next A.J. Green” to create some unnecessary pressure on him.

Perhaps the next opportunity he gets, Gruden should deliver the old line that he just wants his new receiver to be the first Josh Doctson and leave it at that.