There’s an old joke about a man driving in New York City in need of directions. He stops his car and shouts out the window, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
And a New Yorker on the sidewalk says, with typical New York wit, “Practice.”
Pierre Garcon wants to know how to help the Redskins get to the Super Bowl. The first answer that comes to mind is make big catches in big games.
But Garcon knows you don’t get anywhere in the NFL without practice.
Garcon almost always is practicing. He doesn’t like downtime. And during the morning walk-throughs of the Washington Redskins’ training camp, there has been plenty of downtime.
Instead of standing idly, Garcon stands behind a crowd of offensive players and practices.
The wide receiver catches pass after pass thrown by assistant equipment manger Darwin Beacham.
“It’s part of my job,” Garcon said. “I catch the ball for a living. I’ve got to practice what I do.”
Everyone has to practice. Few practice as much as Garcon.
Garcon has Beacham fire passes high, low and in between. Rarely does the ball touch the ground. Garcon catches the ball in front of his body with his hands, the way good receivers do.
The ball makes the same “plop” sound it makes when it hits the hands of all good receivers.
After a while, Garcon turns to one side and catches passes with his left hand. He turns to the other side and catches passes with his right hand.
“You never know how it’s going to come to you in a game,” Garcon said. “If you can catch it in practice, you can catch it in a game.”
The genesis of his work with Beacham came when Garcon suffered a foot injury in the first game of 2012. He was unable to play or practice. And that just didn’t feel right.
“He asked if I would throw to him,” Beacham said. “I’ve got a baseball/quarterback background from high school in Detroit. I can throw it a little bit.
“He tells me where he wants it. And he tells me to throw it harder. He doesn’t want me lobbing it to him. He doesn’t like the Jugs machine. He likes to see the ball coming out of someone’s hand.”
With the Jugs machine, the ball is shot out between two spinning wheels. The speed and angle can be adjusted, but it lacks the human element.
That’s why Garcon likes working with Beacham.
“We do it for 10-20 minutes at a time,” Garcon said. “I’ve lost count of the number of passes he’s thrown. Countless. I just try to get in as much as I can every day.”
Garcon is an essential element in the Redskins’ offense. He gives the team a legitimate deep threat and creates opportunities for other receivers.
The foot injury limited him to 10 starts in 2012. He caught 44 passes for 633 yards.
Thirty-six of Garcon’s receptions for 480 yards came in the Redskins’ final seven games, when they went 7-0 and won the NFC East title.
“He’s hungry,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “He had a taste of some success last year, and he wants more. That’s reflected in the way he practices each and every day.
“Anytime you’re playing with guys you know are going to go the extra mile and you know are willing to put in the hard work, it gives you confidence. He’s a good guy to have on our side.”
Garcon has been a good receiver. He wants to be elite, and he knows the way to get there.