ASHBURN — Sure, the start of this story could go in a poetic direction to explain how Tuesday's OTAs represented the first chance for the Washington Football Team to begin its defense of the 2020 NFC East crown, an angle that would include lots of rich vocabulary and set the stage for the rest of the piece.
Or, that kind of intro could be eschewed in order to quickly get to all the notes and observations from the session that you care way more about.
The second route sounds like a plan, right? Agreed. Here's what you need to know about the Burgundy and Gold's first spring practice.
- Rookie wideout Dyami Brown came up with the morning's splashiest play. The North Carolina product was matched up with Troy Apke — who was lined up at corner for this particular snap — on the right set of numbers, and he ended up running a deep route down toward the middle of the field. Taylor Heinicke, who was tasked with taking the second-string reps at QB, lofted a pass 50-plus yards in the air for Brown, who skied for it and ended up bringing it down despite Apke attempting to come over his back for it. Coach Ron Rivera has already pointed multiple times to Brown's ability to convert in contested situations, and that major gain was evidence that Brown does thrive in those spots. Heinicke was sharp throughout the two-hour get-together, by the way.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick's aggressiveness was apparent from the jump. The veteran was — and this isn't a shock — not afraid to attack the defense, at times hitting Adam Humphries and Cam Sims for significant chunks. The strike to Sims in particular stood out, with Fitz dropping in a sweet back-shoulder toss that Rivera gushed about in his press conference afterwards. That was a very advanced completion for late-May.
- Let's take attendance... Two extremely notable names were missing from Tuesday's action in Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Afterward, Rivera said the pair of pass rushers had been in touch with assistant coaches, so the boss wasn't that upset about their absences, but he certainly would've preferred to see them in person. Charles Leno Jr. was also not in Ashburn, but his wife just gave birth to their child and he's expected to return soon. Lastly, Steven Sims Jr. wasn't around, either.
- Landon Collins, Kyle Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Kelvin Harmon, Saahdiq Charles and Antonio Gandy-Golden were all in uniform as they returned from various injuries that plagued them in 2020. Collins didn't do any 11-on-11 stuff, but he was still active during those portions, standing well behind the safeties to visualize his role and interacting with secondary coach Chris Harris. Allen was third up in the QB rotation and wasn't sheltered in any way. Charles received some reps at tackle to fill in for Leno Jr.
- The practice fields themselves were in tremendous shape, despite some recent and heavy rain in the area. In previous years, any precipitation would really damage the playing surface and send the players inside the bubble for indoor work, but Rivera and Co. have made a point of seriously improving the conditions at the franchise's Virginia headquarters and that effort appeared to already pay dividends on Tuesday. There were tons of gnats in the air, though. Billions maybe. Bug spray will be a precious commodity for the next round of OTAs.
- Sam Cosmi, the second-rounder who will have a legit chance to replace Morgan Moses at right tackle in 2021, wore No. 62 at rookie minicamp... but is now wearing Moses' old digits, 76. That's cold, even by pro football's chilly standards.
- If Tuesday was any indication, Curtis Samuel is going to get his touches in Washington. The ex-Panther was all over the place on offense and coordinator Scott Turner already deployed him in many ways. Samuel, Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic are gonna be a splendid, versatile trio to watch — and a difficult trio to stop.
- Rookie Darrick Forrest had the defensive highlight of the morning, as he snared a deflected pass for an interception in 9-on-9 drills. With the way the entire defense blasted off the sideline to swarm Forrest once the sequence concluded, you would've thought he hauled in a Powerball ticket. That was no doubt a special moment for him.
- Lastly, Tuesday was a bit of a rough outing for Sammis Reyes, which is fine, because he's at the absolute beginning of his career in the sport. But still, he had a few notable mistakes, including coming in motion at the wrong time pre-snap (Heinicke had to send him back) and an unfortunate drop on a well-thrown dart that would've resulted in a first down. Fitzpatrick was impressed by Reyes' athleticism and physique, though, which is a worthwhile thing to relay, since Fitzpatrick has seen his fair share of gifted athletes since entering the league.