Vernon Davis can retire his jump shot, but the rest of his all-around game comes in handy for the Washington Redskins.
The veteran tight end caught a touchdown pass as the Redskins (4-2) won their fourth in a row, and he could be counted on to start again next Sunday at the Detroit Lions (3-3) if Jordan Reed misses another game. Reed is out with a concussion, his sixth documented one in his college and pro career.
Davis isn’t Reed, especially at 32, but he showed against the Philadelphia Eagles that he can fill in when necessary. Quarterback Kirk Cousins said it was no surprise how well Davis played in his first start since signing with his hometown team.
“He still has elite speed, he’s a great blocker,” Cousins said. “While Jordan is one of our best players and helps make our offense go, credit Vernon Davis for enabling our offense to stay at a high level today with the way he played.”
Davis was flagged for excessive celebration after his touchdown for shooting the football like a basketball, which he didn’t know was a penalty.
“That will never, ever, ever happen again,” Davis said.
Along with the 13-yard TD, Davis had a 37-yard reception as the Redskins balanced their offense to compensate for not having their top receiving target. Pierre Garcon had six catches for 77 yards, DeSean Jackson four catches for 55 yards, and Jamison Crowder three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Third-string tight end Niles Paul got more snaps than usual, too, but the onus was on Davis to fill Reed’s spot. Davis, who won the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos last season, said the only thing that changed in his preparation was making sure his stamina was good to play an entire game.
“Whatever they need me to do — whether it’s blocking, catching passes, I’ll do it,” Davis said. “I’ll do it full speed and give it my all.”
Here are other things we learned from the Redskins’ 27-20 victory over the Eagles:
‘AGGRESSIVE’ SCHEDULE: Already on a two-game skid, the Eagles (3-2) now get to face the NFL’s lone unbeaten team, the Minnesota Vikings (5-0), coming off their bye, when the teams meet at Philadelphia next Sunday. It doesn’t get much easier after that, with games at division rivals Dallas and the Giants, and then games against a trio of the NFC’s elite: Atlanta, Seattle and Green Bay.
“The schedule gets aggressive fast,” Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks said.
RUN FAST, YOUNG MEN: Alfred Morris, who? The Redskins seem to have found their groove in the running game with Matt Jones, Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson mixing up things.
The trio combined for 231 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles as coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay have figured out how to maximize those backs’ different talents. Gruden called Jones a “big plugger,” and Kelley a “great changeup.”
“I think just us three guys coming together and believing in ourselves and going out there and doing things we know we can do,” Kelly said. “That’s why they got us here.”
ROUGH GOING, ROOK: Carson Wentz knows that defenses he faces the rest of the way have plenty of game video to watch and use for planning purposes.
“These are going to be great learning lessons for Carson, being able to mature as a quarterback,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said.
After Wentz went 11 for 22 for 179 yards, directing an offense that produced a grand total of six points all afternoon against Washington, he acknowledged: “I’ve got to be better, especially late in the game.”
The Redskins might have provided a blue print for other Philadelphia opponents to follow. As Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan put it after getting two of his team’s five sacks: “We just knew we had to get pressure in his face.”
NOT MUCH DEFENSE: The Eagles’ defense needs to figure out ways to stop the run and get off the field on third downs. They gave up 230 yards on the ground on 33 carries, and allowed Washington to convert more than half of its third-down attempts, 7 of 13. “We’re not that good, where we can just go out there and show up,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said, “and just think we’re going to have success because of what we’ve done in the past.”
AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.