The Washington Commanders have officially wrapped up practice for the week. By this time tomorrow, the players will be on the way to Baltimore for their final preseason game against the Ravens.
It is a somber moment for several reasons, the biggest being that for some players, it is the beginning of their final days with the team.
With today's practice being a walkthrough, there was not much action on the field, but here are some of the observations from Thursday.
-- Coach Ron Rivera has a simple message for the players who will be seeing heavy snaps against the Ravens: "Make sure you're ready." Rivera reiterated that this final preseason game is an opportunity for the younger players to show the team what they're capable of. They have watched plenty of film and taken advantage of the extra chances to get treatment, so they should be prepared for the moment. There are still some roster decisions that need to be made, so Saturday night is the last, best moment for those on the bubble to secure a spot.
-- It happens every year, but Rivera will need to have several tough conversations by Tuesday to tell some players that they have been released. The head coach has been doing this for years now, and Rivera said that it never gets easier. Some will get other opportunities with other teams; some will not. If there is any solace to take from the moment, it is that Rivera knows each player gave everything they had over the past month.
-- Rivera praised the timing between Carson Wentz and Terry McLaurin by saying that yesterday's practice was "a pretty good show of it." He even added that there were some moments when the timing was "perfect." Wentz also led McLaurin on some passes that allowed him to get open. So, all is well in terms of the Commanders' best offensive weapons getting in sync.
-- The Commanders decided to bring back Wes Martin yesterday by claiming him off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Martin, who started 10 games in his previous stint with Washington, brings solid depth to the offensive line, and Rivera said that the team likes him because of their position flexibility. The Commanders did not want lose Martin last season -- he was claimed off of their practice squad -- but they are happy to have a smart, stout player like him back on the roster.
-- Rivera knows that it is a lot to ask Saahdiq Charles to take snaps at three different positions, but the 2020 fourth-round pick had a solid camp. On top of his snaps at tackle and guard, Charles has recently been lined up as a center. Charles is still growing and developing, Rivera said, so showing his position flexibility is important. "The more he knows, the better it will help him in his game."
-- Saturday will be a big opportunity for Sam Howell with the rookie getting more snaps than he received in the first two preseason games. Rivera wants to see Howell continue with his preparation. He has done a good job of absorbing information, but now he has even more of a spotlight to show what he can do.
-- We'll finish this report off with a couple injury updates: Trai Turner participated in individual drills for the second straight day but was on the sideline for team drills. Rivera said earlier in camp that Turner already knows a lot about the concepts, so the team wants him to focus on getting healthy. As for players like Cole Turner who are not as familiar with the system and have missed time, getting adjusted to the speed of the game will be important. Turner has already proven that he can perform, so now he needs to acclimate himself to the pace of game scenarios.