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WFT Daily: The Chess Matches Between Cole Holcomb And Ryan Fitzpatrick

Cole Holcomb makes a leap for the ball during Tuesday's practice. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Cole Holcomb makes a leap for the ball during Tuesday's practice. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)

Training camp is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its second season under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.

By all accounts, Cole Holcomb is having an excellent training camp. Those are the exact words Ron Rivera used to describe the former fifth-round pick.

The biggest strides, according to the head coach, are in his attention to the little details. He's putting extra care in his his steps, taking better angles and getting a better grasp on coverages. Paired with his athleticism, it's resulted in some impressive plays, including a one-handed interception in Richmond, Virginia.

It's good that he's fine-tuning those skills, given that he's going against a veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick. In fact, matching against the signal-caller is part of what's helping him improve.

"It's been a blast, man," Holcomb said. "You know, Fitzy being that vet, he's starting to get a feel for the offense. Now it's becoming a chess match."

Fitzpatrick, a Harvard graduate, has been in his share of offensive schemes and is known for quickly adapting to new systems. But even he admitted that Washington's Air Coryell system is more difficult to learn than others.

It seems that Fitzpatrick has been getting a stronger hold on the concepts, though, because he's progressively improved over the past week. He delivered one accurate pass after the other during Thursday's practice and developed a stronger bond with Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas.

The competition has become more balanced, and that makes things exciting for Holcomb.

"He's checking, we're checking," Holcomb said. "It's made it really fun and he keeps it light out there and he keeps it a good time. You're never like getting down on yourself. It's like we got a competition out here."

Fitzpatrick is also notorious for throwing the unexpected at defenses, which provides an opportunity for Holcomb to test his discipline. From what Rivera has seen, he's rising to those challenges. Aside from understanding the defense more thoroughly, Rivera said that Holcomb is starting to understand that he doesn't need to make every play. His focus has been on making the plays that come to him as he reads his keys.

"I've got a little saying, we tell the guys, 'I want 11 guys doing one thing at a time, not one guy trying to do 11.' Cole understands that now, he gets that. If I do my job, I'll make the plays that I should and every now and then I'll make a play that I should."

The results from that philosophy have been clear for Holcomb. His interception in Richmond was one of the best plays in camp, and the way he filled the running lane on a play from Wednesday's practice was the reason Peyton Barber had to bounce outside for a minimal gain.

And when it comes to coverage, he's had multiple pass breakups, including a deep shot from Fitzpatrick to Thomas on Thursday.

Fitzpatrick is known for helping others around him improve. Most think that only pertains to offensive players, and most of the time they may be right, but Holcomb is a prime example of how he elevates everyone around him, defensive players included.

"He really has done a nice job," Rivera said. "You see his retention from last year has been excellent. Last year, if you remember, he missed about a week and a half. Now he's back out there and running around and doing the things that we hope he can do."

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