ASHBURN, Va. — Ron Rivera’s passionate Saturday speech may not have produced playoff-type execution like he intended, but the energy level here did feel much better on Sunday.
“I was very pleased with it,” Rivera said afterward. “I was very pleased with the way they handled themselves today.”
The offense in particular still had its issues — the QBs remained erratic and there were a surprising amount of fumbles — but that group finished the afternoon strong, which really encouraged Rivera. The defense, meanwhile, continued to control the flow.
Before sending his guys back into the facility, Rivera emphasized the necessity of “doing the right thing.” Not the easy thing and not the overly difficult thing, just the right one. And he believes that happened with more regularity to close out the weekend.
Here are some more specific observations.
- Marcus Baugh has been really involved at tight end with the starters, but on Sunday, he stepped back while Logan Thomas came on. Baugh allowed a simple Dwayne Haskins throw to go right through his hands — it may have literally gone through his hands, too; the fact that he didn’t pull it down will forever remain a mystery around these parts. Thomas, for comparison’s sake, caught two red zone touchdowns from No. 7 to close out practice. This staff is adamant that Thomas has a lot more room to develop and were no doubt feeling positive about his efforts.
- It’s not a day at camp unless Ronald Darby disrupts a few passes. Whether it’s because he’s feeling healthy again, feeling motivated because of his one-year contract, fitting into this cornerback-friendly system or, most likely, a combination of the three, he has really brought it this August. He drew Terry McLaurin in back-to-back 1-on-1 battles near the start; he was able to rip the ball away from McLaurin in the first bout and then forced him to the sideline on the second to the point where it would’ve been impossible for the receiver to make a catch even if the pass was perfect (narrator: it was not). If this Darby can make it to the regular season, Washington will be thrilled.
- Greg Stroman is apparently trying to match Darby’s consistency, as he’s had a sweet stretch of late as well. Rivera explained that he asks his CBs to play with a lot of vision, and that’s apparently meshing with what the ex-Hokie likes to do.
- Chase Young was held out of action yet again as he continues to work back from his hip flexor injury. During the special teams portion of Sunday, Young was seen working with new trainer Ryan Vermillion on a different field. Rivera said he's checking on him to make sure he doesn't get too frustrated. Saahdiq Charles was present but not practicing, as he still had a decent-sized wrap on his calf. Nate Orchard was out as well. And early on, Fabian Moreau pulled up lame while covering Cam Sims deep, but he later returned, albeit with a bunch of tape around his left thigh.
- Shaun Dion Hamilton is playing really physical, and in one sequence, he actually was too physical in the eyes of Rivera. On one jet sweep, Hamilton crashed through the line and clobbered the ball carrier. Is the term “clobber” something an 85-year-old would say? Yes. But is it also accurate? Yes. Following that collision, Rivera yelled, “We can’t do that!” The coach may not have been fond of that moment, but he’s got to be fond of what Hamilton’s doing overall. He could be playing his way into a starting gig.
- Here’s the traditional pants update: Everyone was in burgundy — except for Haskins and Landon Collins.
- Steven Sims was a little loose with the ball on Sunday, fumbling multiple times. After his final one, Morgan Moses took a second to put his arm around the wideout and calm him down. Sims will need to clean that up, because he figures to be a featured piece for Scott Turner.