Hailey's camp notes: Fitzpatrick getting more comfortable originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Football Team returned to its home facility here after giving the fans at FedEx Field a show a couple of nights ago, and if you want to get creative, you could label Sunday the start of “game week.”
Ron Rivera’s squad will take on the New England Patriots in its preseason opener this Thursday — again, we’re getting creative in this space — making the next couple of practices fairly crucial. So, here’s a handful of notes about how the group kicked off this stretch of camp…
- Let’s get the daily dose of lineup updates taken care of … After missing Friday night’s event at FedEx Field with a quad issue, William Jackson III was back in pads. Sammis Reyes’ knee injury apparently improved after a few days off, because he was a part of the proceedings again (more on him in a bit). Kelvin Harmon had missed the last couple of days with a knee problem but was back in the receiver mix on Sunday. And Charles Leno Jr. returned after attending a funeral on Thursday. Kyle Allen didn’t participate, though, as his ankle continues to heal. Rookie edge rusher Shaka Toney didn’t suit up, either.
- Sam Cosmi faced Chase Young twice in early 1-on-1 O-line vs. D-line reps and he clearly won both times. Once, Young rushed from a four-point stance and in the other rep he tried to get through Cosmi from a standing position. Cosmi will need to stack more efforts like that before being fully trusted with the starting right tackle gig, but it was an encouraging couple of minutes for the rookie, who hasn’t always been able to withstand Young (of course, he’s not alone on that boat).
- When he needs to, Ryan Fitzpatrick can reach back and really zing a fastball into a confined space. Those types of throws from him don’t look as effortless as some of the NFL’s strongest QBs, like Aaron Rodgers or Josh Allen, but to still have that ability at age 38 is a testament to Fitzpatrick’s commitment to his job. On the flip side, it may also be the cause for some of his interceptions, but that’s just a part of the Fitz Experience.
- While Fitzpatrick appears to be quite comfortable with the likes of Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas, his trust in Adam Humphries is on another level. In one 11-on-11 sequence, Humphries lined up in the right slot and at the snap Fitzpatrick faced a heavy blitz. Before any rusher could get to him, however, the signal caller tossed one to the spot he knew Humphries would arrive at, which is precisely what happened. Fitzpatrick’s release came before Humphries even turned his head, and that’s the kind of connection that takes serious work to develop. The two years they spent together in Tampa have certainly carried over to the Burgundy and Gold.
- Let’s do one more bullet on ol’ No. 14. He’s, for sure, getting more in sync with each session. His turnovers are down and his completions are up. On Sunday, his prettiest throw went to JD McKissic. The running back was locked up in the red zone with Cole Holcomb on an out-of-the-backfield route that was meant to end at the right pylon. But in seeing how closely Holcomb was covering McKissic, Fitzpatrick delivered a smooth back-shoulder throw away from the linebacker that McKissic snatched for six. Later, Fitzpatrick zipped one to McLaurin for another score. Afterward, Rivera explained to reporters that he absolutely can feel that Fitzpatrick is increasingly getting into a rhythm.
- Peyton Barber, to his credit, has looked capable at camp. That said, Lamar Miller might make more sense as the third running back. Yes, Jaret Patterson runs impressively for a guy his size and he’ll undoubtedly gain popularity in the preseason, but if Antonio Gibson were to go down, who would you want to handle the bulk of carries between Miller, Barber and Patterson? McKissic could probably step into that role in the middle of a game, but Miller has had the most success as a pro among the final three candidates and he’s done a lot with his touches here as well. The exhibition contests will be enormous for this particular battle.
- You could land a small aircraft on each of Wes Schweitzer’s shoulder pads. Just wanted everyone to know that.
- McLaurin is taking the next step this season and will cement himself as one of the league’s top 10 receivers. Just wanted everyone to know that, too.
- Corner Darryl Roberts had a banner morning for Washington, drawing praise from secondary coach Chris Harris after a couple of separate plays and then finishing up with a jumping interception off of Taylor Heinicke. Roberts, who has plenty of NFL service on his résumé, had been relatively quiet the past week or so but he was definitely noisy on Sunday as he attempts to catch on for the fifth or sixth slot on the depth chart.
- Lastly, Reyes registered his first touchdown in padded practices off of a toss from Heinicke. The design of the play was gorgeous. Heinicke faked a handoff after receiving the shotgun snap, glanced left and then shifted his feet so he could drop one into Reyes, who was sprinting up the right seam. After breaking across the goal line, Reyes paused for a second, perhaps cherishing what was a huge personal moment for him.