Commanders camp observations, 8/16: Antonio Gibson sees a change in his duties

Camp notes, 8/16: Antonio Gibson sees a change in his duties originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington


ASHBURN — Antonio Gibson laid a solid block on the player coming through the line. However, instead of the collision coming on offense, it happened during a special-teams period.

In Tuesday’s camp practice, Gibson was spotted taking reps with the punt coverage unit as one of the protectors behind the front line of blockers. In previous practices, Brian Robinson Jr. had been holding down that spot.

Then, in the ensuing 11-on-11, two-minute drill period, Gibson was relegated to third-team snaps on the unit led by Sam Howell. This is an offense that likes mixing it up at running back, but Gibson being deployed on Howell’s bunch was a new development. To be fair, he also got work with the first-stringers in other portions of the action, so it’s not like he’s totally been demoted.

Of course, these events follow Gibson’s fumble versus the Panthers in the club’s preseason opener, a turnover that Ron Rivera was quite critical of in his postgame presser. On Tuesday, he didn’t go into much depth on why the change in Gibson’s duties was occurring. Perhaps Rivera wanted to further remind Gibson that mistakes like that aren’t acceptable.

Here are a collection of non-Gibson-related notes from Tuesday…

  • In all, this was probably the most entertaining and spiciest chapter of camp for the Commanders thus far. There were highlights galore as well as plenty of heated chatter, with the most intense back-and-forth coming between Kendall Fuller and Terry McLaurin. McLaurin was able to get behind Fuller and made a breathtaking reception after doing so. From there, McLaurin could be heard yelling at Fuller for “disrespecting the whole field,” meaning that he wasn’t happy with how Fuller had been sitting on the shorter routes. Fuller went right back at him. Typically, those two are more reserved, so watching them hash out their differences so loudly was quality stuff.
  • All that energy, however, didn’t satisfy Rivera, who gathered his squad post-practice for a five-minute plus speech that featured serious passion. Rivera declined to detail what exactly angered him so much, but there were a few sequences Tuesday that ended with extra physicality and guys going down to the ground, which has perturbed him in the past.


  • It’s well established that the tight ends room is in disarray, but the guard position is apparently trying to catch up in that race. Trai Turner is still not suiting up, Andrew Norwell was without pads once again and Wes Schweitzer went into the medical tent for a hip problem in the middle of the morning get-together. Elsewhere, Sammis Reyes was placed on injured reserve. For more on that, head here.
  • The Curtis Samuel Practice Tracker is picking up major steam, as Samuel was a full participant on Tuesday just like he was on Monday, meaning the count is now up to two. Those two appearances come on top of his production in Saturday’s matchup with Carolina, and considering that, it’s not a stretch to say this has been the most encouraging run of Samuel news since he joined Washington in March of 2021.
  • William Jackson III had a really strong session, which included him intercepting Carson Wentz, which qualified as Wentz’s first giveaway in pads. Wentz was looking for McLaurin on the right sideline on a comeback route, but Jackson pressed McLaurin from the beginning, ran step-for-step for him and then turned right as McLaurin did. The coverage was so snug that the ball hit Jackson III right in the stomach. He also knocked away a long shot to Dyami Brown where Jackson III’s speed really stood out. He’s on track for a much, much better year.
  • Jackson III’s robbery wasn’t the only interception for Wentz, as he also had one of his passes over the middle get knocked up and, eventually, into the arms of Jamin Davis. It was really nice to see Davis get one. He is subtly improving, sure, but more obvious impact plays like that are necessary.
  • One Commander who is surging of late is Danny Johnson. Johnson was a bit invisible through the first handful of July and August outings, though that trend is officially over after a gorgeous one-handed pick during red zone 11-on-11s. Johnson undercut a floater from Taylor Heinicke, snared it with his right hand and then sprinted toward the other end zone. If it were a fall Sunday, it likely would’ve counted for a 100-yard touchdown. He is heading toward lock territory for the final roster, if he isn’t there already.
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