ASHBURN, Va. — Here's a breaking news item that's exclusive to NBCSportsWashington.com: Football players like playing football more when they're wearing pads. And on Tuesday, the pads went on for the Washington Football Team, which, as Jimmy Moreland sublimely put it, upped the "hostility."
The best sequence of the day came in a two-minute scenario featuring the offensive and defensive starters. In their previous battle, Kam Curl picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick to end a drive, so Fitzpatrick and Co. badly wanted some redemption in the second matchup.
After completing passes to Cam Sims, Logan Thomas, Peyton Barber and Sims again, Fitzpatrick's bunch found themselves around the 20-yard line. But a missed shot to Terry McLaurin, a no-gain screen to Sims and a Montez Sweat sack set up a fourth-and-forever situation.
That's where things got heated.
On the last-gasp snap, Fitzpatrick sprinted out right, gestured to Thomas and then chucked one the tight end's way. William Jackson III and Thomas were jockeying for real estate near the pylon, yet Thomas out-muscled Jackson III for the miraculous six-pointer and got absolutely mobbed by his unit.
However, Chase Young began screaming — screaming — that he had got there in time and touched Fitzpatrick, which is a defensive end's way of registering a sack in August since the QBs can't be hit. That's when JD McKissic bravely came in to contest Young's claim, but Young refused to let the debate go.
Eventually, the sides were separated, but not before McKissic got one last word in.
"Hey Sweat!" McKissic said in the direction of Sweat and Young as they returned to their sideline.
"He said it was a touchdown," he added, referring to one of the refs who were in attendance to monitor the action.
Sweat and Young didn't even turn around. They definitely heard McKissic but just opted to ignore him.
Here's the rest of what went down in a very entertaining session that lasted more than two hours...
- Lineup updates for you: Deshazor Everett was let off the non-football illness list and not a moment too soon, because that safety competition is intense. He was full-go in individuals and full-squad stuff, and Ron Rivera said in his presser that he likes the tempo that Everett plays with. Matt Ioannidis was spotted on a side field going through agility and stretching work, so hopefully, his stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list is nearing its end. Jonathan Allen remains day-to-day with his hamstring issue. Keith Ismael left in the middle of the proceedings to get an ice pack on his right knee. Sammis Reyes injured his ankle early on and didn't return.
- In O-line vs. D-line 1-on-1s, Sam Cosmi held up well versus Young, which was a departure from how that showdown has been going recently. On the first rep, Young tried to dance around Cosmi a bit and was snuffed out. On the second, Cosmi dropped anchor as Young went for the bull rush.
- Going off of that point, the offensive line as a whole performed capably in those drills, as putting pads on no doubt made a difference. On the flip side, Ioannidis, Allen and Daron Payne (who's on the COVID list as well) were all absent, and that obviously is an enormous factor on its own. So, let's call Tuesday a positive step, but nothing more than that since that trio wasn't in the mix.
- Fitzpatrick dialed up Thomas two other instances for touchdowns in red zone-only snaps, and after both scores, Wes Schweitzer swooped in to spike the ball. As previously reported, Schweitzer adores that hobby.
- The good news for Khaleke Hudson is that he's standing out in coverage, a trend that continued on Tuesday when he deflected yet another downfield throw. The problem is that in a lot of his breakups he probably should be coming away with interceptions instead of just knockdowns. Turnovers are too precious in the NFL to let them slip by, but his development nonetheless has been noteworthy behind the top linebackers.
- If any sportsbook wants to accept a prop bet on over 1.5 picks between Young and Sweat, by the way, let the author of this story know. Those two have been dropping back on occasion — not much, but here and there for sure — and both are so freakish in how they move at their size that it feels like a signal caller or two may try to test them when they really shouldn't. To Fitzpatrick's credit, he purposely spiked one pass where, if he didn't, Sweat would've had a chance at coming away with it.
- Antonio Gibson made a mistake in the aforementioned two-minute simulation, and coordinator Scott Turner got in his ear afterward to discuss it. Gibson hauled in a swing pass from Fitzpatrick and then angled toward the sideline, where a couple of defenders were forming a wall. Instead of going out of bounds, though, Gibson busted through them for another five yards or so — but he got tackled in bounds. That forced Turner to burn a timeout, and after doing so, he reminded Gibson how that resource is more vital to the offense than slightly better field position.
- Lastly, Dustin Hopkins was made available to the media, and he had great perspective on that. "Just the guy you want to talk to when the pads come on," he said, smooth delivery and all. Mostly everybody else's hostility was ramped up. His, on the other hand, stayed where it usually is, which is to say: low.