Corey Washington. The mere mention of his name gets New York Giants fans riled up. So, consider yourselves riled. Now, let's talk about Washington and his potential place on the 2015 Giants as we near the end of our player-by-player profiles of the team's 90-man roster.
2014 Season in Review
OK, so here we go. In camp as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Newberry College, Washington was a preseason sensation who made fans think he was going to be Victor Cruz 2.0. At 6-foot-4, 214 pounds he dominated end-of-the-roster corners who weren't going to make 53-man rosters, catching a team-high 10 passes for 155 yards and four touchdowns, all of which were game-winners, during the Giants' five exhibition games.
Washington carved out a spot on the 53-man roster and then, effectively, became a cheerleader for most of the season. He caught only five regular-season passes, four of those in the closing moments of a blowout loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Guys like Jerrel Jernigan, Preston Parker and Kevin Ogletree played while Washington sat. Head coach Tom Coughlin indicated Washington needed to be more productive on special teams. Fans, and probably Washington, wondered what special teams had to do with pass receiving. By season's end, both the fan base and Washington himself were frustrated as he was a non-factor.
2015 Season Outlook
Washington once again spent the spring making spectacular catches, using his big frame to get position and to outjump or outmuscle cornerbacks for the ball. Significantly, on the plus side, Washington worked much more with the first team in the spring than he had a year ago, and some of those catches came against Prince Amukamara. Also significantly, in the 'pump the brakes' department, remember that players were in shorts and t-shirts, there was no press coverage and guys like Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would be certain to offer more resistance in real game conditions. Still, Washington undeniably had a good spring.
"I thought Corey Washington had an excellent spring. I thought he had an excellent spring in the classroom and in the meetings," said wide receivers coach Sean Ryan. "His attitude was outstanding. He worked. He got better and we will compile all the catches, but he is right up there. I am not sure if he didn't lead the pack in catches and productivity for the spring. He certainly stood out to me."
The reality for Washington, however, remains that as long as the Big Three of Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle are healthy his opportunities to be a pass catcher are going to be limited. The Giants also still have Parker, who caught 36 passes a season ago, and figure to give Dwayne Harris every chance to win the fourth wide receiver role.
Washington, 23, seems to have a better idea what the NFL is about as he enters his second season.
"I took a lot of lessons from my rookie year," Washington said during minicamp. "I went to the offseason and worked on my craft. I went down to Greenville, South Carolina to work out at TNT with Jordan Reeves and he got me right and the team has been working on everything to get me where I am at now.
"My confidence level is high. I am gaining Eli' s trust and coach's trust and he is throwing me out there with the ones, so I just have got to continue to work and keep it up."
In a recent interview with Giants.com, Washington said "I can't have a relapse of last year. I've gotta get better so I can help Eli and the coaches and the Giants organization get back on top."
Whether Washington and Giants fans like it or not, the young man will have to help the Giants on special teams.
"We just need him to get better so he can contribute on all four. Right now he is a two-team player but we would like to see him on all four so you maximize that roster space and that if he is dressed on game day," said special teams coordinator Tom Quinn. "He has primarily been on punt return and kick off return. We would like to develop some of his coverage skills on punt and kickoff."
Washington said that aspect of the game has "slowed down" for him somewhat. He seems to understand now, whereas perhaps a year ago he may not have, that special teams is part of his responsibility. Washington told John Schmeelk that special teams improvement needs to be a primary focus for him.
"We've got Odell coming back, we've got Victor Cruz coming back. I think my thing this year again is special teams and maybe getting that fourth receiver, getting in the rotation in the red zone."