EAGAN, Minn. — Past football homecomings to the Dallas area have gone well for Josh Doctson.
The 26-year-old wide receiver is from Mansfield, Texas, 20 miles south of AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Vikings face the Cowboys there Sunday night, and Doctson hopes by then he will be activated off injured reserve for his first game with his new team.
With Washington in 2017, Doctson caught three passes for 26 yards and scored a touchdown in his first road game against the Cowboys. Last season in Dallas, he caught six passes for 66 yards for Washington, the third-highest total in his first three years.
“It’s a good homecoming for me every year,” said Doctson, who was injured as a rookie in 2016 when the Redskins played at Dallas. “We played them once every year with the Redskins, so it’s definitely a great place to play, and obviously I’ve got a good family base back there. They can watch me. It’s cool.”
After three seasons with Washington, Doctson was waived Aug. 31; he signed with the Vikings on Sept. 3. Doctson was inactive for the Sept. 8 opener against Atlanta, then he injured his hamstring in a Sept. 11 practice and was placed on injured reserve.
The Vikings designated Doctson to return from injured reserve last week, and he was back at practice. After sitting out the required eight weeks, Doctson is eligible to be activated for Sunday’s game, though Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wouldn’t speculate Monday on whether that might happen.
The Vikings might need another receiver against the Cowboys. It remains uncertain whether Adam Thielen will play after he aggravated a hamstring injury in the first quarter last Sunday at Kansas City and didn’t return. Thielen was hurt Oct. 20 at Detroit and sat out Oct. 24 against Washington.
Doctson said last week his hamstring felt “great” when he returned to practice and believed he would be “ready” to face the Cowboys.
Docston, a former Texas Christian star who the Redskins drafted in 2016 with the 22nd pick in the first round, could provide some valuable experience to Minnesota’s receiving corps. After veteran starters Thielen and Diggs, the Vikings are down to rookies Bisi Johnson and Davion Davis and Laquon Treadwell, taken one pick after Doctson in the 2016 draft.
Johnson has emerged as the No. 3 receiver. Davis has played just two snaps in one game. Treadwell, waived by the Vikings on Aug. 31 and re-signed Sept. 24, caught just two passes in his first five games back but had three receptions for a career-high 58 yards in the 26-23 loss to the Chiefs.
“He’s definitely a guy who’s been in this league a little bit,” Johnson said of Doctson. “Just to see him get back in the groove of things, it’s really good. I’m happy for him. He can definitely help you out. He’s a veteran.
“He just knows the lay of the land a little bit, so he can help us younger guys out, and we can help him out if he ever needs help because he just got on the team not that long ago.”
Injuries limited Doctson to just two games as a Redskins rookie before he showed signs of developing in 2017. With current Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throwing to him, he had 35 catches for 502 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
After Cousins left as a free agent, Doctson caught 44 passes for 532 yards and two touchdowns in 2018, then was let go at the end of the 2019 preseason.
“He has a great opportunity in Minnesota,” Washington television analyst and former quarterback Joe Theismann said. “He certainly has the physical tools to be able to play the game. It just didn’t work out for him (in Washington). It’s a tremendous opportunity for him to be back with a quarterback he’s very familiar with.”
Doctson is excited about catching passes again from Cousins. While’s he hopes that happens Sunday in his home area, he’s willing to be patient if that’s what the Vikings want.
“I’m just ready to be out there with the team and kind of start a new journey for me,” he said. “So whether it’s Dallas or the game after, I just want to be back.”