By all accounts, Friday’s practice may be the Washington Commanders’ most physical one during this year’s training camp. On a day highlighted by the trenches, a poor offensive red zone outing, and one too many turnovers, let’s dig into my observations and nuggets from the Washington Commanders’ Friday practice.
- Receivers Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown were inactive for full team drills. At times they were working off to the side today, other times, they were on the sideline with the offense observing the practice session.
- The tight end room is quickly being depleted. With Logan Thomas and John Bates still out, Cole Turner injured his hamstring on the first play of full team drills, attempting to execute a backside run block. He tried to come back in a couple of plays later and made a reception but was met by a big hit from what appeared to be Percy Butler. Turner left practice for good after this rep and was seen by the medical staff. According to head coach Ron Rivera, Sammis Reyes was injured today with a hamstring injury.
- William Jackson III is “probably” dealing with a hamstring injury, too. “Well, if he had an ice pack, then he probably had hamstring,” Rivera, when asked about Jackson III being injured.
- Troy Apke is also inactive on the side field.
- LB David Mayo ran with the starters today in short-yardage defense, specifically in Washington’s 5-2 defensive front alongside Cole Holcomb. It appears that Rivera and the staff have identified a role for Mayo. Rivera confirmed that there are certain “groups” where Mayo is more valuable than Davis. “That’s just kind of the way some of the defenses are set up. We have a couple defenses where we have certain elements of it where it’s what we consider our big group. Other elements, we just have one linebacker on the start. So for the most part, the first guy in is gonna be [LB] Cole [Holcomb]. It’s just really the group.”
- Jamin Davis and Khaleke Hudson led the 2nd team defense at linebacker in short-yardage situations. This unit gave up a big play on a play-action pass that allowed Sammis Reyes to get behind the 2nd level of the defense on a crosser for what would have been a 50-plus yard touchdown. He was wide open. Rookie Percy Butler was the deep third safety, I was unable to capture who the cornerbacks were.
Pass rush drills
- Rookie Phidarian Mathis had a productive day in 1-on-1 and 2-on-2’s today. Mathis won with power at the point of attack and had good pad level to keep the offensive guard off his feet and unable to anchor down. Mathis also practiced the stunt game with another defensive lineman, though I couldn’t capture who he was working with. However, Mathis collapsed the pocket coming off of the stunt with another power rush. Mathis displayed a good leg drive on the rep that would have credited him with a third win on the day in pass rush reps.
- Sam Cosmi struggled on one particular speed rush rep from veteran Montez Sweat. Cosmi was a second too slow reaching his set point, which would have helped him get in a better position to defend Sweat’s speed rush. The work between these two did not end, though. After this particular drill was over, Cosmi and Sweat got together for a “lessons-learned” conversation, where Sweat likely discussed some ways Cosmi could get better against the type of rush plan that Sweat presented him.
- If today is any indication of what the coaches are thinking regarding returners, receiver Dax Milne took most of the kickoff returns for Washington today.
- Rookie Kyric McGowan saw action at punt return. McGowan was noticeable because he was the first player on the field today. He was also out there fielding punts. However, McGowan had one muff and one bobble during practice when he fielded two punts. He did field another one, which was clean.
- Other punt returners include Milne, Jahan Dotson, and Alex Erickson.
- Jarett Patterson was in the mix on special teams, too. Patterson specifically saw reps as a jammer on the punt return unit. A good way to show versatility and earn a roster spot.
- Antonio Gibson had a rough day. From what I was told, this was one of his first full days back in team drills. Gibson saw opportunities as a pass catcher. While he did create separation during his route and win his 1-on-1 matchup, Gibson dropped a pass at the catch point. He was wide open after his move. His problems did not stop there; Gibson was the culprit behind two fumbles in full team drills. The offense lost both. (Side note: Brian Robinson had an effective day, he is a player to watch next Saturday vs. Carolina.)
- Sam Howell threw a red zone interception. However, in full transparency, I could not see how the entire play unfolded because of where I was seated.
- The offense had several losses against the defense in red zone situations. The starting defense forced several throwaways by the quarterback and maybe even sacks if their practice was a live game.
These are my noteworthy items from practice this Friday. I should mention that there aren’t many updates on Wentz or the offense because my focus was mainly on the trenches and the defensive line.