Ron Rivera likes what Curtis Samuel showed in debut but plans to be cautious with WR

Rivera likes what Samuel showed but plans to be cautious with WR originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Prized free-agent acquisition Curtis Samuel made his debut with the Washington Football Team this past Sunday against the Falcons, as he finally returned to the field after dealing with a lingering groin injury for months.

Samuel said he felt good after the game, a contest where he totaled four receptions for 19 yards in Washington’s 34-30 victory in Atlanta. But apparently, he’s still not 100% healthy.

The speedy wide receiver did not participate in Wednesday’s practice, as he was one of many Washington players unable to suit up for the session. Head coach Ron Rivera was asked about Samuel’s health moving forward and declined to share any more information.

“I don’t want to get in and give you guys predictions on stuff I don’t know,” Rivera responded when asked if this would be a lingering issue with Samuel. “I have no idea on that stuff.”

The coach was also asked if Samuel reaggravated his groin during Sunday’s game. He was vague in response, saying the team has to “be cautious” with it moving forward. 

While Rivera didn’t go into much detail about Samuel’s health for this week and beyond, he did say that he was pleased with what the wideout showed in his first game this season.

“I liked the things that he did and the thing that was really good about it was you saw how it impacted the players around him,” Rivera said. “There’s a value to guys that have that kind of ability when they’re on the field.”

Samuel played just 25 snaps for Washington against Atlanta, which was fewer than 40% of the team’s offensive plays. Samuel was targeted four times in the game and hauled in each one of Taylor Heinicke’s pass attempts toward him, but he wasn’t looked to once over the final 23 minutes of the game.

Heinicke did point out on Wednesday that while Samuel’s stat line might not stand out, his catches came on big plays that kept the offense on the field. Three of Samuel’s four catches resulted in first downs, including one on a fourth-down play.

“He made some big plays,” Heinicke said. “It might not seem like that in the stat sheet, but I think he converted two or three third downs, one on fourth down and again, it was good to get him the ball in his hands, let him get hit a little bit. He hasn’t played football in a while, so for him to come up clutch in those situations, it was big for us.”

When Washington signed Samuel to a lucrative three-year deal in March, the hope was that he would take some of the opposing defense’s focus away from star receiver Terry McLaurin. While Samuel is not there just yet, Heinicke and the rest of the offense are excited to see what’s to come.

“It was huge for him to get back out there,” Heinicke said. “We’re really excited to see him build on that.”

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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