Camp notes, 8/1: Commanders QBs plagued by interceptions originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
ASHBURN — No quarterback emerged unscathed from Monday’s training camp practice for the Washington Commanders, as Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke and Sam Howell were all picked off in team-wide drills. Wentz actually turned it over three times in the air, while his backup and his backup’s backup were responsible for one apiece.
Head coach Ron Rivera, though, isn’t allowing those kinds of early struggles to rattle his confidence in the players at the position.
“Only one guy really has experience with what we do and how we do it,” Rivera said, referring to Heinicke. “With Carson, with Sam… it’s really about learning and understanding the concepts, learning and understanding the progression of your reads and then decision making.”
Rivera is of course correct to not speed to any conclusions or show too much displeasure through the media. The calendar just turned to August, so the Week 1 opener is five weeks away.
Even so, he and the other offensive coaches would surely love for the unit to respond with more rhythm on Tuesday, because so far, the defense is dominating the action.
Here is more insight into how Monday unfolded…
- Wentz’s first two interceptions came in 9-on-9 work; Kendall Fuller nabbed the first one on a comeback route, while Kam Curl skied for the second on the sideline. Bobby McCain was the third defensive back to get Wentz, as his robbery occurred in 11-on-11s. Wentz gathered himself to make some confident throws in the deep red zone portion of the proceedings, but away from the goal line, he was just not accurate.
- Percy Butler was the Commander who victimized Heinicke, and Jeremy Reaves is the one who got Howell. Those two, along with Darrick Forrest, are involved in an intense battle for safety reps. That’s definitely one part of this roster that appears to be quite well-rounded.
- In the instances that the quarterbacks were able to pick out a target, those targets often didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Dyami Brown, Cam Sims and Marken Michel all put the ball on the ground in situations where they shouldn’t have, while Kelvin Harmon was unable to lunge and secure a heater from Howell. The good news about all this is that Scott Turner’s group knows precisely where it must be better, and much of it is entirely within their control.
- Monday marked the most extensive time on the field for Antonio Gibson, who’s still building back up off of a hamstring injury that marred the backend of his minicamp in June. Gibson and Wentz weren’t clicking in the offense-against-nobody warmup period — on one stutter-step slant pattern, Wentz asked Gibson to be “a little more patient off the line” — but they did connect for a short-yardage touchdown versus the defense. Now that he’s returning to the huddle, Gibson hopes to cut down on mistakes such as missing holes or getting too greedy for chunk plays, he said in a presser.
- In negative injury news, the Curtis Samuel Practice Tracker has been reset to zero. Samuel was held out of Monday entirely, and afterward, Rivera explained that Washington has a “plan” for the receiver who needs to improve his “overall football conditioning and shape.” For a full update on Samuel, this is the place to go.
- Cole Turner hauled in another six-pointer in the red zone, this one from Heinicke after a smooth out-and-up move. Heinicke made sure to tell the rookie tight end how nice the route was after the brief touchdown celebration. Turner is going to log multiple end zone visits this season.
- What makes DBs coach Chris Harris so entertaining to watch is that he isn’t just joyous when his own charges produce a highlight — he also loses his mind when other members of the defense stand out. After undrafted linebacker Tre Walker tipped a Howell pass at the last second, Harris hustled over to give him multiple high fives. These were the kinds of high fives that looked like they hurt, too. Harris’ energy is never lacking.
- At one point, Jamin Davis drew a matchup with Terry McLaurin in the slot. After the snap, McLaurin darted past Davis’ left shoulder and turned to see if Wentz was coming his way, but Wentz had already unloaded in the opposite direction. McLaurin had this reaction:
- As the second- and third-stringers were rotating in, Montez Sweat took a knee on the sideline opposite the rest of his defensive comrades. When someone shouted at him to jog over to the other side, he remarked that it was too long of a trip and he wanted to save his breath for the next phase of practice. That didn’t prevent him from griping about or insulting the offense after the majority of sequences. The guy is an expert-level trash-talker.