Redskins' Gaffney eyes 1,000 yards

Redskins' Gaffney eyes 1,000 yards
December 20, 2011, 9:59 pm
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By most after-the-fact reports, Jabar Gaffney was on the verge of being released by the Denver Broncos when he was traded July 27 to the Redskins for defensive end Jeremy Jarmon.

Five months later, Gaffney is on the cusp of the first 1,000-yard season of his 10-year career.

Trade edge to the Redskins.

Gaffney enters Saturdays game against Minnesota with a team-high 842 receiving yards on 58 catches (one behind the suspended Fred Davis).

Its definitely a personal goal I would like to accomplish, Gaffney said before practice Tuesday. Hopefully Ill get a chance and continue to make plays for this team.

Among the many players on offense whose roles expanded because of injuries or under-performance, Gaffney ranks right up there as one of the most pleasant surprises.

Projected in training camp as a 50-50 shot to make the roster, all Gaffney did was beat out Anthony Armstrong for the starting spot opposite Santana Moss and when Moss went down, he assumed No. 1 receiver duty.

Gaffney has at least four catches in 10 games, is tied for the team lead with four touchdowns and needs seven catches and 34 yards to achieve career highs in both categories (set last year).

Hes just a very smart route runner and he understands timing, said quarterback Rex Grossman, also a teammate in college at Florida. A lot of our pass concepts are timed up with my drop and you can always count on him to be in the right spot to where you could throw with a blindfold on because hes going to be in that area.

Especially in the last two games. Against New England and the Giants, Gaffney took advantage of defenses that were equal parts in a soft zonepitiful to catch 12 passes or 177 yards and a touchdown.

It could continue against Minnesota, which ranks 30th in pass defense (260.4 yards per game) and last in interceptions (six).

Hes hot right now, Moss said of Gaffney. Once they started feeding him and he got into a rhythm, thats how youre supposed to play. You cant be nothing but proud. I know I have a guy out there I can depend on a lot. In previous years, they would throw everything at me and I wasnt open half of the time.

Because of Moss hand injury, this will be the first time in his seven years with the Redskins he wont lead the team in receiving yardage.

Gaffney capitalized when thrust into the top spot, producing even when he received extra attention from defenses.

As soon as I got traded here, Mike Shanahan told me he would give me an opportunity to make plays, said Gaffney, whose cap number is 2.4 million this year and 2.65 million next year.

Shanahan made the trade to add experience at the position and Gaffney has delivered on the Redskins projection.

I liked the way he played and liked his production at every place he had been, Shanahan said. We thought the trade would be good. Hes been very consistent catching the ball and adjusting to our system and making some plays. Im very pleased with him.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com