In Week 6, rookie offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles made his highly-anticipated debut for the Washington Football Team, starting at left guard. That debut, however, lasted just two plays before Charles had to exit the game with a knee injury.
Yet, his first two snaps in the NFL apparently gave head coach Ron Rivera a lot to like. That makes losing the rookie once again even more frustrating.
“It’s very difficult just because you see the promise," Rivera said. "Saahdiq played two plays and you see both those plays and you sit there and say: ‘The guy is something else.'"
The first two plays for Washington on Sunday featured a nine-yard gain through the air followed by a two-yard run. It wasn't groundbreaking stuff, but when looking back at the film, Rivera noticed that Charles did exactly what he needed two in both instances.
"He blocked their best pass rusher on the very first play. He went down the line, and on the kick out block was in great position to create a crease and then he hurts his leg," Rivera said. "You just sit there and say: ‘Wow, this kid has potential but every time something like this sets him back.’"
It's the combination of the potential and the injuries that put Rivera and Washington in a tough position. Charles was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the hope that he could make an impact on the offensive line sooner rather than later. Through just two plays and some work in practice, Rivera believes that is a legitimate possibility. The only thing holding him back is his health.
The head coach alluded to rookie wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, who finds himself in a similar situation after he left the contest early with a hamstring injury. Washington has young players that can help the offense, but they can't stay on the field.
For rookies, in-game experience -- and even practice -- are essential. Reps and time to mesh with the team allow one to get settled and become more involved. Charles and Gandy-Golden haven't gotten that opportunity so far.
"It’s tough because you want to get these kids incorporated, get them in with the veterans that are there so we can get them going moving forward," Rivera said.
If that is the case, Rivera will want to see sustained health follows so that Charles can display his potential for longer than just two plays.