Commanders

Camp notes, 8/5: Defense steps up during intense goal line period

Commanders
Casey Toohill

ASHBURN — One yard separated Washington's offense from six points. That one yard proved difficult to pick up, though.

In a goal line portion of Friday morning's training camp practice, both Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke took turns trying to guide their unit into the end zone, but on the first seven snaps, they couldn't do it.

With Wentz in charge, Casey Toohill flew off the edge to nab Antonio Gibson for a sizable loss on first down. Then, Jamin Davis corralled Brian Robinson Jr. on another run and snugly covered a tight end to force a throwaway. And on fourth, Wentz and Gibson had a bad exchange, which led to a fumble, which Toohill recovered.

On Heinicke's turn, meanwhile, Christian Holmes pushed Cam Sims out of bounds before Sims could get his feet down on a fade. From there, Robinson Jr. was dropped again, and on third down, Heinicke had to chuck one out of bounds. Finally, on fourth, Jonathan Williams dove across for a much-needed touchdown.

That was for sure the most high-energy part of Friday's action, even if it wasn't the most encouraging for the offense. Should there be a rematch in the near future, they'll certainly want to execute better. This time, it was the defense who celebrated their work. 

Now, here are additional notes for you to digest...

 
  • The Curtis Samuel Practice Tracker, unfortunately, is back down to zero. Samuel was completely involved on Wednesday from start to finish, yet on Friday, he was back to the side field. Rivera said there'd be ebbs and flows with Samuel so this isn't a surprise, but it's still worth mentioning. Dyami Brown and Saahdiq Charles were also non-participants. Cole Turner, meanwhile, came up lame during an offense-versus-air passing drill and then got his leg a bit twisted up in the ensuing 11-on-11 phrase. Following those nicks, he was sent to the trainer's tent and did not return. Ron Rivera labeled it a hamstring issue. 
  • Offensive line coach John Matsko demands excellence from his players at all times, including when they're acting as stand-in defenders during walkthrough-like situations. One of the younger linemen was a little late to his temporary duties as a linebacker, which angered Matsko greatly. "You're always on defense," Matsko said. "You're not a starter!" While it might sound harsh, that's precisely what makes Matsko such a top-notch coach. His guys have to be on at all times.

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  • Percy Butler had a hell of a run stop on Jaret Patterson, who clearly isn't the biggest running back but does pack a punch. nonetheless. Butler met him in the hole and stood him up with authority, then held on to him until reinforcements arrived. Butler is a speedy safety who should thrive in space, but on that sequence, he was stout in traffic.
  • Building off of that Butler note, Friday had the most hitting of the padded practices by far. Like, there were instances where guys collided... and then they wrestled around... and then they hit the ground! It was fairly exciting and as much physicality as you'll see in August in a non-game.
  • As touched on in the intro, Davis had his most noticeable session of the summer. He popped against both the run and the pass and was playing with a little more energy overall. Now, David Mayo is still taking his spot in a handful of packages, which is disappointing, but hopefully Friday can represent some kind of turning point.
  • If you come out to camp, you're going to hear the words, "Let's go D-Fo!" on a regular basis. That's because Darrick Forrest is routinely in the right spot, much to the pleasure of defensive backs coach Chris Harris. In a ranking of the 10 Commanders who are standing out above everyone else, Forrest is definitely featured.
  • Chase Young was quite vocal on the sidelines, at times imploring Montez Sweat to fire off the edge. Young has also been steadfast in signing autographs for the fans who make it to the facility each day. Players like him, Terry McLaurin and Wentz are in high demand, and so far, they've been generous with their signing.