ASHBURN, Va. — Ron Rivera began his pre-practice speech Sunday by informing his team, "Today's about competition." And while it may not have been the slobber-knocking, two-hour grind that some expected it to be, it was still a very revealing chapter of camp.
Rivera mixed up the matchups in 11-on-11s, giving his backups the opportunity to face starters on both sides of the ball. He also tried to simulate a real game at various points, preceding drives with kickoffs and punts and calling for "hot changes" where units had to hurriedly take the field like a change of possession had just occurred.
In all, he no doubt has a better feel for whose ride with the Burgundy and Gold will end soon and whose will continue into the regular season. Here's a recap of some of the more important and interesting moments:
- You can't say enough about this Chase Young stuff of Adrian Peterson that happened near the end of the starting offense's first drive. The 21-year-old rookie made the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer look like a camp body. Some on Twitter hopped on their high horse to point out that THAT'S WHAT YOUNG'S SUPPOSED TO DO, which was annoying. It was one hell of a highlight, and that's that. If you're the gambling type, put a pile of money on Young to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and then an additional bit of money on him being the Defensive Player of the Year. His impact will be tremendous.
- After telling the media he was still evaluating what he had at left guard, Rivera leaned heavily on Wes Martin on Sunday. Joshua Garnett and even Chase Roullier had been taking some of Martin's work the past few days, but he was the one protecting the interior for Dwayne Haskins in this session. Calling that battle over would be premature, but it was still a really good sign for the 2019 fourth-rounder that he was back in the top lineup.
- Reuben Foster's left knee didn't have its usual huge brace on it. Instead, he just had a few pieces of that black tape you see so often on pro athletes these days. Maybe shedding the brace will help him perform a little like his old self again, because this hasn't been a banner couple of weeks for the former Alabama star.
- Kendall Fuller was initially back in pads — he had missed the past few practices — but after warming up, he was spotted jogging back into the facility. Fabian Moreau was also dressed but very limited in what he actually did. Those absences allowed Jimmy Moreland to play on the outside and he took advantage, breaking up multiple passes from Haskins. While Moreland may not be big enough or gifted enough to become an elite corner, he's more than capable of contributing to this secondary in 2020 and beyond. He consistently finds a way to be around the ball, but of course, he also has to do that on fields besides this one.
- Tress Way's ready for real football to start, guys. Don't worry about him:
- Just when Cam Sims begins to fade from the receiver conversation, he hauls in a deep ball down the sideline (which he did again on Sunday, from Kyle Allen this time) and reminds the staff of his top-end ability. Sims' hands are sketchier than a gas station hot dog at times, but his size lets him stand out in one-on-one coverage and create chunk plays in those situations. If it's him versus Trey Quinn to make the squad, Sims would appear to have the edge.
- On a sequence where Greg Stroman picked off Dwayne Haskins (Stroman continues to rack up INTs, by the way) Jonathan Allen went down with a left leg injury. As the DBs celebrated Stroman's turnover, the rest of the team's attention was on Allen, who rolled around a bit before being helped off by two people. Allen was barely putting any pressure on the leg, and at first, the vibe was that something really serious happened. He eventually took a seat on a cooler, though, and then a few minutes later, stood up and rejoined his fellow linemen in their sideline cluster. That would mark the end of his activity, but the fact that he remained outside as opposed to being ushered indoors is somewhat encouraging. You never truly know, however.
- Morgan Moses is very firmly in Haskins' corner. After Haskins stood tall in a shrinking pocket and dimed one to Quinn between two converging defenders, Moses yelled, "GOOD (bleeping) BALL, BOY. WAY TO THROW THAT (bleep)." A few snaps later, after Haskins darted around the left of the line for a scramble that probably would've gone for a TD, Moses chased after him howling, "YES SIR. YES SIR." The veteran right tackle very much believes in the second-year pro's potential.