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Redskins.com McCants Proves His Staying Power


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McCants Proves His Staying Power

By Rich Campbell

Special to Redskins.com

June 9, 2004

Darnerien McCants got exactly what he wanted.

The wide receiver tied with Laveranues Coles last season for the Redskins' lead with six touchdown catches, and he entered the offseason a restricted free agent. The Redskins in March rewarded his performance with a new contract.


Darnerien McCants caught a career-high 27 passes for 360 yards and six TDs last year.

McCants, who was widely considered to be on the bubble for making last year's team, now feels that he has earned respect in the league and solidified his position among the Redskins' deep receiving corps.

"It's definitely a new feeling," McCants said. "Normally, I'm fighting to stay around."

A more confident McCants can now focus on improving upon his 2003 campaign. He caught 27 passes for 360 yards to accompany his six touchdown receptions a year ago.

Under Gibbs, McCants says he is learning new pass routes and skills that will help improve his effectiveness.

Said McCants: "I call him the 'Zen Teacher.' From the beginning, the stuff he says makes sense to me. Everything we do is football related. There's no asking questions about why we're doing this.

"Sometimes, as a football player, you come up to drills wondering why we are doing this. It just seems like we're not learning or working on our position. It's not that way with Coach Gibbs. There are no questions."

Learning football is still important for McCants, who began playing football only in his senior year of high school. He played tight end at Delaware State, where he also demonstrated his knack for catching touchdowns. Eighteen of his 36 receptions during his senior season at Delaware State were touchdowns. At 6-3, 214 pounds, McCants is still developing as a wide receiver and a football player.

"I'm new to football," McCants said. "I'm learning something every day. I'm trying to get myself better by learning about myself and learning about football."

Entering Gibbs' first season back, the Redskins have loaded up at receiver after trading for veteran James Thrash the day before re-signing McCants. Those two join incumbents Rod Gardner, Coles, Taylor Jacobs and others to make the Redskins' receiving corps one of the deepest and strongest positions on the team.

"Obviously, that group is going to be as competitive as anybody in camp," Gibbs said. "It's going to be hard-fought, and that's good. That normally means you get the best out of guys."

The Redskins' depth at receiver is reminiscent of Gibbs' receiving corps during his first coaching tenure. The group, affectionately known as "The Posse," consisted of Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. Monk's 12,026 receiving yards are most in team history, and Clark and Sanders rank third and fifth, respectively, on the team's all-time receiving yardage list.

McCants grew up watching "The Posse" and said that while this year's receiving corps is different than that heralded group, it can be just as effective.

"I think we're just a different type of talent," he said. "We're definitely bigger than those guys. We're going to have to see how this package works out in order for us to start comparing with 'The Posse.'"

As for the competition at the position, McCants is used to it because of his status entering last year's training camp.

"It's been like that every year I've been here," he said. "It's nothing new."

Fortunately for McCants and the other Redskin receivers, the departure of former head coach Steve Spurrier won't mean a departure from the passing game. The change in coaches only means a different approach to the passing game.

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good read, I def like the guy and hope he continues to improve and flourish. Has good size and hands and drops nada, well its rare. Im sure he's working on his route running and getting more precise with that while he's learning new routes. Plus he 's a local guy, he went to arundel I went to meade so I always gotta pull for a home town guy.

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Jacobs is still relatively unproven. Although I agree that McCants and Thrash make excellent backups, I'm gonna have to go with Indy having the best corps. Harrison, Wayne, backed up by Troy Walters and Brandon Stokley (also excellent 3rd/4th guys). They even have Moorehead whos a tall lanky guy who can potentially be a TD machine too. Oh yeah, Peyton throws to them too.

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To this day, my favorite McCants play was Preseason 2002, I believe in the American Bowl against the 49ers. McCants caught a ball, pinballed off of three or four defenders, smashed them to bits, and scored a TD. That was impressive.

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I'll say it again, I see an awful lot of Terrell Owens in McCants.

I'm sure that solicits more than a few chuckles, but the physical and style of play similiarities are very real ...

Height, stength and build are almost the same.

McCants brings those strong hands to the table, and he just plucks balls out of the air and in traffic.

And in my mind, the biggest similarity is that he runs MAD after he catches the ball. After a catch, he's not bashful at all about turning it up, full speed and iniaiting contact and running through arm tackles.

Also, he has the same kind of powerful, long-striding speed that continually accelerates. He's exceptionally fast after two steps, and his strides just chew up speed in hurry.

The aggressive attitude is there, but the confidence is not yet. He's willing to play physical and use his body, but doesn't quite no how to ... but you can see the instincts are there when he's in the red-zone.

I can't wait to see him develop.

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I still think we let R. Gardner go after this season and plug McCants in as our #2. However Jacobs' development along with the Thrash pickup might mean that won't happen. However, I do think the T.O. comparison is spot on as McCants potentially creates huge matchup problems for many CBs and under Gibbs will develop into a very good WR regardless of where he's placed.

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I just want to see McCants more consistent and I'm sold. I love his size and his "extra" gear when he gets moving. I just want to see him string together a number of games in which he's involved in the game and contributes with tough catches and fullfilling his blocking assignments.

Anyone remember when Sage and he were playing "Pitch and Catch" against the Steelers in preseason?

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D Mac should be an excellant downfield blocker on running plays and gives us one of two big bodies to throw to.

Joe Gibbus Maximus has said he will utilize a few of S double's passing plays the difference being there will be pass protection

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