WFT camp notes: Choppy first practice didn't dim excitement originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
RICHMOND, Va. — The NFL calendar is filled with momentous “firsts” — the first day of free agency, the first night of the draft, the first weekend of games — but the first day of training camp practice is in a realm of its own.
Here, optimism about the Washington Football Team is burning almost as hot as the sun, and Wednesday marked the first chance for (almost) the entire squad to take the field, make coach Ron Rivera’s roster and try to build off of 2020’s playoff berth.
Before getting too far into this recap, it’s necessary to share that nobody was in pads, which’ll be the case for the entirety of the organization’s stay in Richmond. Just remember that over the next few days.
So, without any further delay, here is all you need to know from the franchise’s opening practice of camp…
- Bad news: The offense was choppy. Good news: The offense has about a month and a half until they huddle up in a meaningful contest. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke both had a couple of notable connections with various receivers, but overall, those two and Kyle Allen had issues getting much going against Washington’s defense. That isn’t surprising, and it isn’t mean to cause panic throughout the DMV, either. It’s just an observation.
- Cole Holcomb‘s mullet is simply luscious. If it grows anymore, it’s basically going to touch the back of his calves. In non-Holcomb hair news, the linebacker jumped a Fitzpatrick pass in a 9-on-9 situation and should’ve picked it, which would’ve certainly resulted in a score for Jack Del Rio’s bunch. Coming up with pass breakups in 9-on-9 isn’t easy — the rush isn’t as serious, and QBs tend to just check it down if nothing’s doing downfield — so seeing Holcomb jump the sideline route was quite impressive.
- Landon Collins was a full-time participant in both individuals and team stuff, which is wild when you think about it. While Collins hasn’t yet lived up to the sizable contract he signed in 2019, he should be commended for the way he attacked his rehab after tearing his Achilles late last October, and Rivera did just that in his post-practice press conference on Wednesday. Now, it’ll be on Collins to reassert himself in the secondary, because there are a lot of safeties for coaches to sift through. The veteran was most often working alongside Kam Curl during the session.
- Thanks to his recovery, Collins obviously isn’t on the PUP list. One important contributor who is, however, is Curtis Samuel. As one source told NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay on Tuesday, there isn’t “major concern” about Samuel’s groin issue, which first arose in June’s minicamp, and he was spotted doing some sprints on a side field at the facility. Rivera also correctly pointed out that, since the staff knows Samuel so well from Carolina, they understand what to expect from him when he’s healthy enough to suit up. But still, camp is all about building chemistry, and Samuel is unable to do that currently. Tim Settle and Greg Stroman were also sidelined.
- With Samuel not involved, Adam Humphries had his number called often, mostly by Fitzpatrick. Humphries is small and not known for his speed, but he and Fitz are familiar with each other from their days in Tampa and he’s awfully savvy when it comes to finding openings and places to make himself available. Assuming Humphries makes the 53-man roster, he won’t have enormous numbers, but it feels like he’ll come up with numerous clutch catches on Sundays.
- Chase Young, understandably, was on the receiving end of many, many cheers and chants from the supporters who showed up. The guy has an undeniable aura about him, as strange and sportswriter-y as that is to say. (Here’s a fun moment of him smiling at fans while stretching.)
- One very, very under-the-radar player who showed up well on Wednesday is seventh-round pick William Bradley-King. The depth behind Young and Montez Sweat is questionable at best, so Bradley-King has a chance to carve out a role if he keeps thriving. He wasn’t getting to the QB in his first camp practice, but he knocked down at least two passes at the line of scrimmage.
- To conclude, we’ll recap one sequence that would’ve shattered Twitter and Instagram had the media been allowed to film (which is a no-no during any sort of offense vs. defense scenarios). Near the end of the proceedings, Heinicke dropped back, stayed strong in the pocket and lofted a seam ball down the left side to Sammis Reyes, who leaped up to bring in the deep completion. Reyes had a simple and disappointing drop earlier, but here, he used his speed to break free down field. The potential is undoubtedly there — but he’s also a ways away from truly reaching it.