ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Football Team are now in the last week of organized team activities before next week's mandatory minicamp.
Washington head coach Ron Rivera cut the offseason short by a week as a reward for good attendance and that largely held up again on Wednesday, the second day of the work week for the WFT players and the only day that media is allowed to attend this week.
Key news items:
*Jonathan Allen and Chase Young were not present today. Young was not at OTA's last week either but Allen was. Both have communicated their plans to position coach Sam Mills III, according to Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
*Quarterback Taylor Heinicke participated in individual position drills on Tuesday but not in term activities because Heinicke was a victim of friendly fire recently. He was apparently elbowed in the head by a teammate in a walk through blocking-and-protection drill, opening a gash in his face that required seven stitches and also resulted in a chipped tooth.
*New WR Curtis Samuel also did not participate in much of the team drills after suffering a 'twinge' in his groin according to Rivera.
*Second-year OL Saahdiq Charles, who Rivera described as having a very good offseason, was also held out as a maintenance day, per the WFT head coach.
Now to some more observations from the field:
*Veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick looked fine and one can see the velocity he still has at the young age of 38. He threw a 'climb the ladder' touchdown pass to TE Logan Thomas in the red zone, a connection fans should expect to see quite often. Without a second glance, one could see and hear the velocity on the ball.
*Fitzpatrick spun out of pressure on one rep from his right to left and fired a pass into the end zone that was contested and nicely broken up by LB Cole Holcomb. Not to treat it all too seriously as Cornelius Lucas, playing at right tackle with Charles Leno Jr. in the house, was essentially dancing with the left defensive end. Obviously, it looked weird and would not happen under non-controlled circumstances.
*Rookie tight end John Bates had a nice outstretched-hand grab. He appears to be the real deal through rookie camp and OTAs.
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*I had Antonio Gandy-Golden down for two touchdown catches in the practice session, one from Kyle Allen on a crossing pattern. The Liberty product also had another reception from Fitzpatrick. It is expect that 'AGG' will very much in a battle for a roster spot.
*DeAndre Carter, a young veteran receiver that could factor in on special teams, was used on a few jet sweeps, with one time leading to a different look. Carter ran halfway across the formation on a jet play before pivoting and running back to his starting position.
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*Fellow WR Steven Sims Jr. caught a lofted touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick in the corner of the end zone, but then also appeared to fan out too wide on a jet motion from right to left, followed by a swing-pass attempt incomplete. Perhaps Fitz’s throw was a bit off but Sims contributed to the failure of the play.
*This is just one more way that Washington's offense will look different this year. As we've said all along, expect a ton of jet-sweep motions in front of the quarterback, behind the quarterback, the aforementioned halfway across the formation and return motion and plenty of swing passes along with natural running back screens.
*You know who runs an offense like this? Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. Does Washington have Patrick Mahomes? Of course not, but they can be a whole lot more creative this year than they could last year.
Not only does WFT have more speed, talent and depth on the offensive side but because they now trust the quarterback. It was clear the new staff didn't believe in Dwayne Haskins and they had many doubts and concerns about Alex Smith following his comeback last fall.
They are no longer concerned when it comes to the QB position.
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*Speaking of QBs: Steven Montez, who Rivera said tested positive for COVID-19 at last year, is being cross-trained to work elsewhere. Logic tells us he can't be on the final 53 unless Fitzpatrick, Heinicke or Allen are hurt for a significant period of time.
*Tight end Sammis Reyes had another easy/uncontested drop during individuals drills. This is a problem at this point in his development, especially with Bates' emergence as the TE No. 2.
The one thing Reyes can hope to bring to the table this year for Washington is his athleticism and potential pass-catching ability. He's had at least one drop every time we've been allowed at practice.
*One particular rep saw Montez Sweat absolutely destroy left tackle David Sharpe. Washington might be in trouble if Sharpe has to play any kind of significant snaps on the blindside.
* Wide receiver Terry McLaurin catch a contested crossing route from Fitzpatrick in a battle with rookie Benjamin St-Juste.
*New safety Bobby McCain had an interception of Fitzpatrick, for a ex-Dolphins-to-Dolphin reunion.
*Once again, first-round pick Jamin Davis was at the MIKE linebacker spot instead of on the outside. For the first time, Del Rio and Rivera confirmed that is the plan for him to stay inside moving forward.
*Second-year safety Kam Curl got beat by Sims for a touchdown pass but also blanketed Bates well in the red zone when asked to play in a more zone coverage.