Football Team

Who starred and who struggled at Washington's minicamp

Football Team

While training camp is where Washington's roster battles will really take shape, those races did begin over the past few days during the team's mandatory minicamp.

And though nothing too conclusive could be gleaned from the action in Ashburn — except that cicadas should go away and not return for 17,000 years instead of just 17 — certain players stood out, with some doing so for the right reasons and others doing so for the wrong reasons.

So, here's a breakdown of guys who fit into one of those two categories.

Those who starred

Taylor Heinicke

The playoff hero routinely demonstrated his ability to improvise and handle off-schedule plays this week, which is what caused Washington fans to grow enamored with him in January against Tampa. He also — not surprisingly — displayed total command of the offense, one he's been in for quite some time now.

For Heinicke, the question will continue to come down to his health; he added 15 pounds to his frame in order to hold up better in the NFL, but he won't be able to test that until the preseason. The other aspects of his game, however — from his athleticism to his accuracy — were apparent throughout minicamp.

The starting quarterback job is likely still in Ryan Fitzpatrick's hands, but Heinicke didn't look like someone who'll be content to let the veteran officially claim it without a fight. Fitz will have to bring it in July and August to stave Heinicke off. 

 

Antonio Gibson

The toe injury that Gibson recently explained he must keep monitoring and treating didn't seem to limit him at all on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which will please his coaches (and fantasy addicts, too).

The running back was able to throttle up to full speed on the few occasions he had to, and he was never restrained from any action by the staff. 

There's rightfully been a lot of attention devoted to the Burgundy and Gold's new passing options, but Gibson could very well be the engine for the offense overall. If all his parts are humming the way they should, he's due for an enormous 2021. 

Benjamin St-Juste

St-Juste turned in the best single-day performance of any Washington player; he was a PBU machine on Wednesday and did his best to erase whichever wideout he was lined up across from.

If the third-round rookie can emerge like that come Week 1, coordinator Jack Del Rio will find himself in a place where he could use St-Juste, William Jackson III and Kendall Fuller simultaneously, with Fuller occupying the slot. That'd be one hell of a trio.

BSJ was a lesser-known name to many on the second night of the draft, yet if minicamp was any indication, that'll change, and soon.

Bobby McCain

McCain, who was signed in mid-May after the Dolphins dropped him, came down with at least three interceptions in team drills. Not bad for someone who just arrived.

Kam Curl and Deshazor Everett received the bulk of the work at safety for the starting defense, but McCain should still be considered a serious candidate for the top free safety gig in September. He isn't necessarily known for being a ballhawk, but he was in minicamp, and that type of coverage is precisely what Del Rio needs. 

Those who struggled

Troy Apke

Rivera and Co. gave Apke the opportunity to slide in at cornerback on a ton of snaps this week, and the head coach told reporters he thinks Apke has the physical skills to perhaps carve out a role there. 

While that may be true, he's going to have to improve rapidly in order to stick around for the opener.

More often than not, No. 30 was trailing pass catchers in coverage, even though he's touted as a speedster. Trying to make the squad at corner might be an easier path than doing so at safety, but Apke's probably on the outside looking in at both positions as of now.

Sammis Reyes

It's almost unfair to put Reyes here, seeing as he's on the proverbial one-yard line of his fresh NFL career. But the converted tight end certainly is a ways away from contributing to Washington in any meaningful fashion.

As covered before, his attitude is all you could ask for from someone hoping to break into the league. Unfortunately, come cut-down day, that attitude won't be enough to overcome mental mistakes, drops, etc. 

 

Reyes will undoubtedly spend the next month or so to ensure he's fully prepped for training camp, which is good, because he's behind Logan Thomas, John Bates, Ricky Seals-Jones and others at tight end.

Landon Collins

Collins didn't actually suit up for minicamp, so he didn't literally struggle. The issue for him is that other safeties and defensive backs were able to stand out while he was relegated to merely watching.

In Rivera's hyper-competitive organization, every snap is precious, and Collins has logged zero since tearing his Achilles last October. Him being cut still appears to be a long shot, but a stint on the Physically Unable to Perform list (and maybe even injured reserve after that?) could be on the horizon. 

My right quad

I'm going to switch into first person for this final item. Sorry.

The bugs at the facility were maddening — both the cicadas and your standard gnats were more present than the sound of whistles and trash talk — but I don't think either are responsible for the giant bump on my upper right leg. 

My current theory is that a spider is behind the bite that's seriously ailing my quad; as nerdy as this sounds, I can no longer put my phone or wallet in my right pocket, because those things rub up on the bump and generate a decent amount of pain. Maybe I'll get superpowers?

I do think I'll be ready for the trip to Richmond, as long as I stay committed to my rehab (otherwise known as sitting on the couch inside). I'll be sure to keep you all updated.