While many fans view the final preseason game as the last obstacle between summer football and meaningful football, for players, the exhibition finale is hugely important.
As Ron Rivera has pointed out numerous times this week, Washington’s Saturday matchup with the Ravens could be a difference-maker in some of the last remaining position battles for the Burgundy and Gold.
So, with that in mind, these three members of Washington’s roster (well, they're members for now, at least) could especially use a positive outing before cuts come down on Tuesday.
When coordinator Jack Del Rio called McTyer a “pleasant surprise” in a Wednesday press conference, that was clearly a positive development for the cornerback. Del Rio told reporters that McTyer has excelled wherever he’s been deployed in the secondary and his rise in relevance certainly has been a surprising story at camp.
Despite that endorsement from Del Rio, McTyer isn’t safe yet. Washington’s top four corners are set — William Jackson III, Kendall Fuller, Benjamin St-Juste and Jimmy Moreland aren’t going anywhere — but after them, McTyer, Troy Apke, Danny Johnson and Darryl Roberts are all fairly even with one another.
Now, the reason McTyer makes this list over those other guys is because those other guys are better-known entities than he is; Johnson suited up for Rivera in 2020 and served as the kick returner, too, while Apke is a special teams “ace” (that was Rivera’s own description) and Roberts is a veteran with 67 career contests on his résumé.
Therefore, McTyer, who hasn’t appeared in a lineup since 2019, needs to pull away with his coverage skills. If he can stick with his receivers, knock away a throw or two or even generate a turnover, maybe it’ll be enough for him to bypass those around him. Download and follow the Washington Football Talk podcast
Temarrick Hemingway's Thursday release was a major development for Reyes' chances of sticking around into September. Hemingway began camp looking like a logical choice to be Logan Thomas' backup, but he was ineffective in the preseason opener in New England and then fell into concussion protocol soon thereafter.
At tight end, Thomas and John Bates are locks. After that pair, Reyes, Ricky Seals-Jones and Caleb Wilson are jostling for that third gig.
Though both RSJ and Wilson are safer bets in being able to contribute immediately, Reyes is the more appealing long-term project and, because of that, he might be more difficult to sneak onto a practice squad. And if he can show additional progress as a blocker and haul in a couple of more receptions this Saturday, then perhaps Reyes can convince Rivera to slot him on the 53-man roster and not even mess with any creative attempts to keep him otherwise.
Everett has played in double-digit games for Washington in five of the last six campaigns. There’s no doubting how useful he is in kick and punt coverage, and at times, he’s demonstrated the ability to be a decent fill-in safety.
Yet Everett’s 2020 ended prematurely thanks to a trip to the injured reserve, and that allowed fellow safety Jeremy Reaves to step in for the schedule’s last stretch. In doing so, Reaves earned Rivera’s trust.
And Reaves isn’t the only threat to Everett’s job. Washington drafted Darrick Forrest in April and also signed Bobby McCain as a free agent, and McCain will be relied on in 2021. Forrest, meanwhile, was a fifth-round selection.
All of that background is to say that, though Everett has done a lot to grow into a steady force in the NFL, the reality is a player of his caliber must always stave off being released. He’s become somewhat of a staple as a reserve for the franchise, but Rivera’s already proven in other cases that he does not care about past accomplishments. Everett must show he can help going forward as well. Tune into NBC Sports Washington at 5 PM on Saturday for Washington Football Kickoff Live starts as the WFT takes on the Baltimore Ravens in their final preseason game.