Hailey's notes: Key absences mean guys like Apke get more work originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Washington was back at practice Monday, a return that came after two off days following the team’s preseason game against the Bengals. Unfortunately, perhaps the most notable news to come from the session related to who wasn’t participating and not anything that transpired on the field.
William Jackson III and Curtis Samuel, the Burgundy and Gold’s most expensive non-quarterback signings of the offseason, were both held out of the action. Jackson III is dealing with a leg injury and has been in and out of the lineup as of late.
Samuel, meanwhile, has gone through individual drills just once since being removed from the PUP list on Aug. 15. Ron Rivera told reporters that they’re still patiently ramping up the wideout.
Dyami Brown and Kam Curl missed Monday, too, and according to Rivera, they were each dealing with an illness. Hopefully, they’ll suit up again soon. Khaleke Hudson wasn’t spotted, either.
Now, the intel to come out of the practice wasn’t all negative, as reserve tackle David Sharpe finally came off of the reserve/COVID-19 list and got some run on offense. Sammis Reyes and Temarrick Hemingway, two tight ends in concussion protocol, briefly did positional stuff before hanging on the sidelines for 11-on-11s; clearly they aren’t all the way back, but they’re at least progressing a bit.
At this point, though, you’re probably ready for a recap of actual football. So, let’s review some actual football with these observations…
- When starters aren’t in the huddle, it provides an opening for backups to make an impression, and that’s what Troy Apke did at corner. Kendall Fuller told reporters that the converted safety has turned it on as of late, and Rivera also praised Apke for his improvements on the outside. After losing a 1-on-1 to Dax Milne that resulted in a Milne touchdown down by the goal line, Apke bounced back to notch an acrobatic interception off of Taylor Heinicke. If Apke can finish with a flourish against Baltimore, he’s going to be on the roster. He’s a fantastic special teamer and now has that coveted versatility in the secondary. Of course, let’s not confuse him with Champ Bailey, but he’s growing.
- With Samuel and Brown sidelined, the just-mentioned Milne continued his run of promising practices Monday. The move he put on Apke for that score prompted Terry McLaurin to shout, “Good [word we can’t print here] release!” Milne also laid out for a Ryan Fitzpatrick spiral on an out route and was able to secure it as he crashed into the ground. With Steven Sims now gone, that’s one less person for Milne to compete with as he looks to stick around into September.
- Fitzpatrick went to the barber………… and got a haircut, not a beardcut. The veteran showed up to the facility with a fade — otherwise known as Jay Gruden’s favorite haircut — but kept everything on his chin intact. If that ever changes, the Washington Football Talk podcast will record an emergency pod, and it’ll be at least two hours long. You have our word.
- Now that Fitzpatrick’s appearance has been analyzed, here’s a summary of his Monday performance: bleh. The inaccuracy that plagued him last Friday at FedEx Field was around yet again, he had a few uncharacteristic miscommunications with McLaurin that led to not-even-close incompletions and his final snap of the afternoon concluded with Cole Holcomb celebrating an interception. He’s in a bit of a slump after what was a solid stretch of outings.
- This is a bullet point that is backed up not by data but by feel: It feels like Washington hasn’t had much success on runs in camp that begin with a toss. Whether that’s because Chase Young and Montez Sweat are the ones occupying the edges on many of those calls, Charles Leno Jr. and Sam Cosmi aren’t as comfortable on the move laterally as they are straight ahead or there’s some other, less obvious factor, keep an eye for how productive tosses are for the offense versus the Ravens on Saturday and in the early stages of the regular season. It could be a low-key Achilles heel for the unit.
- Logan Thomas is a 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end. In other words, he’s a huge human. However, despite that size, he routinely makes receptions when there is, somehow, no one around him. That happened in the Bengals contest and once again went down on Monday, when Fitzpatrick lofted one to him for a touchdown when he was completely unguarded. Should that keep happening, be prepared to give credit to coordinator Scott Turner’s scheme, because the assistant is demonstrating a proclivity for freeing up No. 82.