RICHMOND—Right now, the Redskins look pretty well stocked at tight end. They have Jordan Reed, a future Pro Bowl selection, and Vernon Davis, a two-time Pro Bowl selection. Coming back from injuries are Niles Paul (ankle) and Logan Paulsen (toe). Many around the Redskins camp are assuming that the Redskins will carry four tight ends and Reed, Davis, Paul, and Paulsen will make the team.
But Derek Carrier, who filled in last year while Paul and Paulsen were sidelined, will soon be in the picture, according to Redskins coach Jay Gruden. If and when that happens, the picture at the position will be muddled considerably.
The Redskins traded a 2017 fifth-round pick to the 49ers to get Carrier. He backed up Reed and caught 17 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. His season ended early when he suffered a torn ACL and a torn MCL in Week 14 in Chicago.
Carrier didn’t participate in any of the offseason program while rehabbing the injury and he started training camp on the PUP list. Gruden said that he is “close” to returning to the field.
“I don’t think we will see him in Richmond,” said Gruden. “No, I think once we get back to Ashburn, I think he will be close then. So, he’s got a couple more weeks left.”
The Redskins’ last day of training camp in Richmond is August 14. They will start in Ashburn a day or two after that. If they can get Carrier back on the field sometime that week he could be ready to play in the third preseason game on August 27 against the Bills at FedEx Field.
If Carrier gets into the mix things will get interesting. A tight end will have to go. One thing to note about Carrier is the fifth-round pick the Redskins gave up to acquire him. They would be hesitant to cut a player before the draft pick they paid for him has been used.
On the other hand, Carrier is a lot like Reed in that he is primarily a pass-catching tight end who isn’t much of a blocker. It’s hard to have more than one player like that on the team. Paulsen isn’t a dynamic playmaker by any stretch but he can block and that could give him the edge over Carrier.
We will see how it works out at a crowded position that is about to get more crowded. There likely will not be any clarity here until they cut the roster down to 53 on September 3.