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3 rookies to watch in Washington's final game of the season

Jaret Patterson scored his second touchdown of the season against the Eagles last weekend.
Jaret Patterson scored his second touchdown of the season against the Eagles last weekend.

Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the team.

With no playoff spot to play for, the Washington Football Team's season finale at MetLife Stadium provides a perfect opportunity to give some newer players important reps. In recent press conferences, Ron Rivera said he plans to use this last game against the Giants as an opportunity to get a longer look at its depth. So, here are three rookies to keep an eye out for on Sunday:

Earlier this week, Rivera noted that the Giants game will "most certainly" be a chance for the Boise State product to see the ball more.

Bates has been a bright spot for the Washington offense all year and has really stepped it up to a new level in the team's last two games. The tight end showed off his grittiness and capable hands to score a touchdown against Dallas, and in last weekend's matchup against the Eagles, he appeared in 92% of the snaps while recording three catches for 35 yards.

Offensive coordinator Scott Turner has spoken highly of Bates, saying, "he catches everything" -- an observation that the numbers certainly back up pretty well. The rookie has 19 catches on 23 targets for 244 yards.

"He just keeps getting better and better and kind of just prize in with the things he can do," Turner said. "He is a competitor and he's a tough guy."

With Ricky Seals-Jones in the concussion protocol, it's likely that Bates will have a chance to surpass more career-highs. ESPN projects him to finish with 23 receptions, which would be nearly half of the catches Bates made in his entire college career.

It's been an overall quiet rookie season for the first-round draft pick. Throughout 17 games, in which he has an average of 4.5 tackles and played in about 56% of the defensive snaps, Davis has just one pass deflection, two tackles for loss, one sack and two quarterback hits.

During last week's game against the Eagles, Davis was used sparingly in the 20-16 defeat, as he collected just one tackle and only played in 21% of snaps (tying his lowest percentage of the season).

Rivera sees the talent that Davis has, but he also believes the rookie still has "a lot to learn."

"I know the style of defense they played in college was different than things we asked him to do, so there was a lot of learning that was involved in that."

Rivera has also considered switching up Davis' role, weighing the benefits of using the Kentucky product in a more outside position.

"I think that's something we got to really look at and see if it is better for him not to have the kind of pressures that the middle linebacker has on him," Rivera said.

The Giants game will provide a really great opportunity for Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to evaluate different possibilities for Davis and for the rookie to show the strides he's made since season start.

With Antonio Gibson out on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and J.D. McKissic out on Injured Reserve against the Eagles, undrafted rookie Patterson didn't let his moment to shine pass him by. The hometown kid starred in Week 17, amassing a game-high 98 yards off five targets and scoring his first touchdown at home (and his second touchdown in two weeks).

Taylor Heinicke acknowledged the talent that Patterson put on display in the loss.

"He performed great. Again, he's making huge strides all year," said the quarterback "But you see how tough he is and he's a good football player. So hopefully he just keeps progressing."

Patterson has steadily improved this season to the point where he's second in rushing yards among Washington's running backs, and his 4.0 rushing average is third on the team among players with at least 40 carries. What's more, he's only dropped one target all season.

Gibson has been activated off the COVID-19 list, but Patterson is likely to play a decent amount against the Giants.

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