Injuries have ravaged the Washington Redskins, wiping out much of the optimism for the NFC East division leader.
Sometimes, however, injuries can allow increased opportunity for young players who deserve more snaps.
Such is the case for third-year receiver Maurice Harris.
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The 6-foot-3 wideout burst out in Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, generating 124 yards on 10 catches. Harris displayed the ability to make contested catches, earn separation on routes, and most notably sticky hands in close quarters.
"Probably some of the best set of hands I’ve seen on a receiver," cornerback Quinton Dunbar told NBC Sports Washington about Harris. "Some guys just have them hands that catch everything. He’s definitely one of those guys that just catches everything that touches his hands."
Harris doesn’t own world-class speed but makes himself available to Alex Smith by using his big frame to box out receivers and improved route running to gain space.
"Mo has always been a consistent player for us," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "Not the fastest guy in the world, but he runs excellent routes. He’s a quarterback-friendly guy. Knows how to work in zone. [Has] the quickness to separate man-to-man, so he’s a great option for us right now."
Harris could become the type of possession receiver Smith favors, given the 25-year-old receiver’s ability to wall off defenders with his frame and skill to play across the formation to generate mismatches.
Of the third-year pro’s 246 offensive snaps this season, Harris has lined up in the slot on 131, wide on 94, tight to the line of scrimmage 13 and in the backfield 8 times, per Next Gen Stats. That versatility allows the wideout to be on the field every snap should coaches give him the chance.
"I just try to know everything. Be available for any spot," Harris told NBC Sports Washington. "Whenever we install [a weekly game plan] I try to learn every position, so I have that availability."
Early this season injuries held Harris from capturing a bigger role. He missed most of the preseason and the first two games of the regular season due to a concussion.
Then injuries opened the door to more playing time.
Jamison Crowder missing time allowed Harris to take slot snaps. Now with Paul Richardson (shoulder) done for the year, Harris should have a full-time role.
Sometimes injuries kill a team. And sometimes they uncover talented players who deserve more run.
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