By Adam Aniba
Washington's receiving core has been a mixed bag this season at WR#2 and WR#3, with free agent addition Curtis Samuel unable to stay healthy. After signing a 3-year $34.5 mil LTD in the offseason ($23 mil in guarentes), the former Panther receiver has only participated in 2 games, recording 4 rec 19 yds and 1 rush att for 9 yards. Adding insult to injury, Logan Thomas, who was last year's most productive pass catcher next to Terry McLaurin, has missed the last 6 weeks due to injury.
Taylor Heinicke and the offense have played some of the best ball coming out of the bye week, with back-to back wins against the league's 2nd and 9th ranked defenses. Another free agent receiver was signed in the offseason, but received little fanfare. Journeyman KR/WR DeAndre Carter was also added to the roster
Carter has helped Washington's offense and special teams in key moments this season and his biggest moment came in week#4 vs Atlanta when he took a 101 yrd KR to the house, helping the team to it's 2nd win.
The next few games after the ATL win would be tough for Washington and led to 4 straight losses heading into the bye week. Injuries along the offensive line, growing pains for Heinicke and the loss of Logan Thomas contributed to issues in the passing game.
In recent weeks though, the dedication to the run game has led to effective play-action, which opened up other opportunities for Heinicke to connect with Carter in the passing game.
2021 Carter Has Recorded- 14 rec 219 yards 3 tds with 15.6 per rec average and added 5 rush att for 41 yards with 8.2 per att average. On special teams he recorded 25 KR for 638 yds 1 td with a 25.5 average (1st car KR TD 101 yrd vs Atlanta) 6 PR att 60 yards.
Over the last 3 weeks Carter has scored a receiving TD in each game. Only 49'ers TE George Kittle, Jets WR Elijah Moore, WR Saints Marquez Callaway and TB WR Mike Evans putting up the same numbers.
Carter has displayed how extremely shifty he can be with the ball in his hands, but his route running has dramatically improved since the start of the season. The former Sacramento State receiver's ability to adjust on the fly, meshes well with Heinicke. Carter is also a nice compliment to the ability and attention McLaurin brings to the offense.
Remaining 7 Games
Carter has become an effective weapon for Heinicke and OC Scott Turner. The probable return of Curtis Samuels will surely reduce Carter's snaps on offense, but as we've seen through 10 weeks Samuels just has struggled to stay healthy. Hopefully that trend changes, but fans should feel positive about the spark Carter brings to the receiving game. As mentioned, Carter also adds a weapon to the run game and his 5 rush att for 41 yards this season led to two first downs.
With Turner showing more innovation in his play calling, Carter will surely get looks despite Samuels returning to the lineup. Utilizing Carter's quick-twitch ability on screen passes, slants/comebacks and jet sweep runs provide a valuable weapon during the season's stretch run.
The upcoming matchups will bring about further opportunities for Carter to cement his role in the receiver rotation, with Curtis Samuel, Cam Sims, Adam Humphries and Dax Milne. Carter's skill set differs from the other pass catchers mentioned and it could only be a matter of time before Carter puts up his first 100-yard receiving game of his career.