For the third consecutive game, wide receiver Curtis Samuel was active for the Washington Football Team after missing eight of the club's first 10 games of the season due to a lingering groin injury.
Yet, during Sunday's 27-20 Week 14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Samuel was on the field for just 14 of the team's 68 offensive snaps -- a decrease from the previous two weeks where he played 20 snaps each against the Seahawks and Raiders.
Speaking with local media via Zoom on Monday, Washington head coach Ron Rivera admitted the team needs to get Samuel, its prized free-agent acquisition, more involved in the offense moving forward.
"I think it came down to play-calling and personnel, more than anything else," Rivera said when asked about Samuel's lack of usage. "He's a guy that we've got to get the ball in his hands and rolling. We'll work on that."
Samuel did not register a catch on Sunday and was targeted just twice throughout the game. In the five games he's played for Washington this season, Samuel has touched the football just 10 times for a total of 38 scrimmage yards. He has not scored a touchdown yet this season, either.
The current production from Samuel is not what Washington hoped for when they inked the 24-year-old to a three-year, $34.5 million contract this past March.
Although Samuel's 2021 season has been a wash thus far, the coaching staff has not lost confidence in him. Rivera has repeatedly referred to Samuel as a "dynamic" player and believes it's only a matter of time before he has a bigger role.
"Believe me, when he gets rolling and gets the ball in his hands, he can be very explosive for us," Rivera said.
Samuel's lack of production thus far in 2021 will be quickly forgotten should he produce over the team's final four games. Washington currently sits at 6-7 and holds the final Wild Card spot in the NFC. This Sunday's game in Philadelphia, another 6-7 club, is a crucial contest for two teams fighting for a playoff spot.
There's a good chance Samuel's number will be called more on Sunday against the Eagles, too. Washington standout receiver Terry McLaurin is currently in the NFL's concussion protocol, leaving his status for Week 15 up in the air.
If McLaurin is unable to go, Washington will need Samuel and the rest of the receiver room to step up. Rivera is confident in that group to do so.
"We had some guys make some plays [Sunday]. Eleven different guys were targeted. To me, again, I think that's a good thing," Rivera said. "You'd love to have Terry, because of who he is for us and our offense. But, we do feel we have enough playmakers to get out there and make some plays."