Ron Rivera promised that Sunday's practice would be a good one and while it probably didn't live up to the billing, if you like game situations and at least the feel of real football - we got that taste.
It wasn't a preseason game. It wasn't a scrimmage but it had a feel. The practice lasted well over two hours and Rivera gathered his team at the end for about 5-6 minutes on a breezy and pleasant Sunday morning at the team headquarters.
It was the last padded practice that reporters will be able to watch in full, as the team is expected to only be in shells and helmets at FedExField on Monday and then will go into regular season mode starting Wednesday.
Here's what we saw:
On the injury front, Jonathan Allen went down and it looked bad initially but it appears that the Washington Football Team dodged a major bullet as Allen is likely to not be sidelined for too long, per Rivera.
Giving Up Gibson?
Antonio Gibson, without having an official count, appeared to be in on almost every first-team snap of the practice and there was a lot of them.
I asked several of my colleagues in the media that have been at practice every day (along with SI.com) if they agreed with me on Gibson's workload with the top unit.
Several agreed that it was absolutely a bump up but it's impossible to measure accurately.
Rivera had mentioned on Saturday that "we have a plan for him. I know we haven’t showed you guys the whole plan, and that’s a part of the secret we’re trying to keep going into the regular season."
Either way, it was clear that Gibson is absolutely ahead of Bryce Love, who is still recovering from being out for 18 months or so and Gibson was even ahead of Adrian Peterson, at least for Sunday.
“I feel like [Head Coach Ron Rivera] is just rotating us. We get out there the same amount, just rotating us, keeping us sharp, taking reps with the first team," Gibson said to SI.com's question. "You’ve got to be on your p’s and q’s, so I don’t take it as a difference from going with the twos and threes. You still treat it like a game, especially today simulating a game scrimmage. Either ones, twos or threes, you’ve got to treat it like game reps.”
That's a politically correct and safe answer but Sunday was a noticeable jump.
Watch out for J.D. McKissic and Gibson on the field together. It happened quite a bit during this practice and it will happen a bunch during the season.
"We’ve kind of got similar skill sets. I feel like he’s a little bit quicker than me, and I’m a little bit bigger, taller. That’s the type of player I feel like I am. I see a lot that I do when he’s doing it. I’m always watching what he does and learning from him. I feel like we could be a problem," Gibson said of McKissic.
Focus, Focus, Focus
As mentioned above, Rivera was not thrilled with some of the lack of focus during a feisty, competitive yet longer than normal practice. He kept his team on the field for a message for quite a while afterwards. I asked him what did he leave them with.
"Well, first of all I wanted to tell them there’s some good things on this tape that we’re going to get to look at and there’s some things we need to get corrected and we need to shore up for the most part. I told them I was pleased with their effort. I do think that we can get better. I think there’s a lot of good things that we’ll take from this tape and we’ll grow from this tape. I talked to them about giving 100 percent all the time. Sometimes we come to a situation like this and we get into a little bit of a lull. Sometimes it’s true for the game, and that’s one thing we didn’t want to see. We took a little break to simulate halftime and came back out; there was a little bit of a lull. There were three series that I thought we didn’t perform very well in, and I just wanted to make a point in those things. You can’t come out flat, you’ve got to come out and play.”
Plays Were Made!
We'll have coverage of the co-"Play(s) of the Day" coming up in another post but you can damn well bet Chase Young will be featured in one of them, but we will have an offensive one as well.
Chris Russell is the Publisher of this site, a part of SI.com. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Radio.com. Chris also hosts the "Locked on Washington Football Team" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at russellmania09@Gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621