Curtis Samuel was removed from the PUP list on Aug. 15, and on that morning, he went through individual drills with his fellow receivers before being held out of full, 11-on-11 action. Since then, though, he hasn't repeated that relatively basic workload as he attempts to come back from a groin injury that dates back to OTAs.
That was the case once again at practice on Thursday, as Samuel headed to a side field at Washington's headquarters as the rest of his teammates proceeded to gather for their positional warmups. Groan.
However, after the session, coach Ron Rivera finally gave a promising update about one of the offense's biggest keys.
"We're feeling really confident and he's had some really good days out there on the side," Rivera said in his press conference, where he later added that his optimism about Samuel being healthy enough for Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers is "very high."
Per Rivera, Samuel will be re-introduced to full-squad snaps on Monday, six days before the Burgundy and Gold begins their 2021 campaign.
Should that come to fruition, it'll be the free-agent signing's first time in the huddle since May. He didn't do it at all in training camp.
Rivera noted that Samuel's groin issue could've been more complex than a typical ailment, and also explained that Samuel's stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list complicated his journey back. Plus, his style of play has contributed to how slowly he's been eased back.
"I will say this: A guy that runs fast, the guys that are speedsters, take a little bit longer," Rivera said.
Chase Young was not at practice at all on Thursday, meanwhile, as he was dealing with an illness. Fortunately, it isn't a COVID-related one. Rivera envisions Young suiting up on Monday, too.
As for cornerback William Jackson III, another Washington offseason acquisition who's missed a lot of time lately, Rivera lit up about how he's looked in recent sessions. The corner has been bothered by a leg injury.
Now, to close the loop on Samuel, even as Rivera's outlook about the playmaker improves, he understands it's not a guarantee that Samuel is active for the opener.
And while that would certainly be a disappointment and also harm the offense's overall potential, the coach believes in the other options — like Dyami Brown, Adam Humphries and Dax Milne — who've stepped up in Samuel's absence.
"He'll either be ready, which'll be great, or he won't be ready, great," Rivera said. "We have guys who can do some of what he does."
Sure, that's likely true to an extent, but Washington didn't give a sizable contract to any of Samuel's backups. They gave it to him.
Hopefully, they'll start seeing that investment pay off next Sunday — and many more Sundays after that.