The Washington Football Team took an important first step toward restoring its offense to full strength Wednesday, clearing wide receiver Curtis Samuel to return to practice. By putting him back on the field, the team gave itself three weeks to either activate Samuel or keep him on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season.
A prized offseason addition that signed for three years and $34.5 million, Samuel landed on IR days before the season opener after dealing with a groin injury for most of training camp.
“He looked good,” head coach Ron Rivera told reporters after practice. “He moved around well. We incorporated him in some of the things that we do. I really like watching him run, especially on the deep balls. He showed his speed, so it was good to see him out there. But we have 21 days still before we have to do anything. But you know, it was good for his first bit of action.”
Samuel, 25, joined Washington following four seasons with the Carolina Panthers — including two and a half under Rivera. His 2020 campaign was his best to date as he racked up 77 catches for 851 yards and three touchdowns. Samuel’s game-changing speed also allowed Carolina to use him in running plays; he carried the ball 41 times for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Rivera plans to increase Samuel’s usage Thursday and see how he responds.
“We have to do the same thing we do because we've got to try to put him in as much of a football situation that we could possibly do that,” Rivera said. “And so by having him come out and practice the way we had and practiced today, we'll increase stuff tomorrow and see how he handles it if he comes out of it good tomorrow morning.”
Heading into Week 4, Washington’s offense ranks 19th in scoring (22.3 PPG) and 20th in total yardage (318.7 YPG). The addition of Samuel would give the team a huge boost, injecting speed into the offense while giving younger receivers Dyami Brown and Cam Sims the opportunity to develop their games under less pressure.
“He's an impact player,” Rivera said of Samuel. “He's the kind of guy you want on the football field, and it'd be good for some of the younger guys to get a chance to take a look and see how it is done.”