Over the past week, Redskins reporter Tarik El-Bashir has examined five candidates to break out in 2013. In today’s final installment, we’re looking at wide receiver Joshua Morgan.
Key stats: 48 receptions, 510 yards and two touchdowns
Contract status: Signed through 2013 ($6.75 million cap hit)
2012: Joshua Morgan’s first season with his hometown team got off to a rough start in St. Louis, where he was hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing the ball at Rams cornerback Courtland Finnegan in the closing seconds of an eventual 31-28 loss.
Morgan, however, took full responsibility for his costly miscue and also brushed off the death threats he received via Twitter. More important, the 27-year-old D.C. native also didn’t let the ugly incident define his year.
Morgan went on to finish with more receptions than any other Redskin while amassing the most receiving first downs (29). He was also one of the team’s best blocking receivers and recently was named the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work in the community.
Last month, Morgan tweeted a photo following surgery on his lower right leg – the same ankle he broke as a 49er in Oct. 2011. “Time to heal and get back doing me like I really do,” he wrote.
Outlook: Although the team did not comment on Morgan’s surgery, his tweet suggested that he may have be playing at less than 100-percent. Indeed, late in the season he was occasionally spotted limping, particularly after games. He also was not targeted once in the regular season finale vs. Dallas.
Assuming Morgan returns to full health – and can remain injury-free – there are a handful of reasons to believe he could enjoy a career season in 2013 and live up to the two-year, $11.5 million contract he signed last March.
Here are two of those reasons: 1) Robert Griffin III’s knee injury could mean the NFL’s top running offense will be forced to pass more often next season, either because Kirk Cousins is under center or as a way to protect RG3; and 2) a healthy Pierre Garçon figures to attract even more attention, possibly creating more opportunities for the powerful 6 foot 1, 220-pound Morgan.
Morgan's best season to date came in 2010, the year before the initial injury, when he racked up a career-high 698 yards on 44 catches for an average of 15.9 yards per reception (or 5.3 more yards per catch than last season.) If he regains his pre-injury explosiveness, an 800-plus yard season in 2013 certainly seems possible.