There is not much reason for the defense to cheer for an offensive player, but when a teammate takes another step in their recovery, that kind of progress is more than enough reason to celebrate.
As the Washington Commanders' offense huddled together for seven-on-seven drills, veteran tight end Logan Thomas trotted out with the rest of the team's pass-catchers. He did not make any catches, but he was smooth in his routes and did not look hampered by the knee brace that he has been wearing since he was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Coach Ron Rivera cracked a smile when asked about Thomas' progress.
"That's very important for us," Rivera said. "It's another milestone as he gets more and more involved, it gives him a chance to be hopefully ready to go in that first week."
The Commanders have experienced several issues at tight end since training camp began. After Thomas was placed on the PUP list, Cole Turner and John Bates injured themselves and have not been on the field in full capacity in weeks. Curtis Hodges and Armani Rogers have stepped up to fill the void, but not having the top three options at the position has been difficult.
There is still no word on when Thomas will be fully cleared to play, but it certainly is a positive step for the veteran.
Here are some more observations from practice:
-- There was also a positive development for Trai Turner, who essentially missed all of training camp with an injury. The five-time Pro Bowler was off the side field where Washington's injured players practice and back with his fellow offensive linemen in a limited capacity. His day did not include much on-field activity, but Rivera was pleased with the progress. It is the first time in almost a month that the team has had all three of its top guards on the field at the same time, so it is understandable for Rivera to be thrilled with the news.
-- The chemistry between Carson Wentz and Terry McLaurin continues to improve. The two connected on several plays today, one of the highlights being a touchdown pass during red zone drills. There is plenty of hope for Washington's offense this season, and much of it centers around their bond. Plays like the ones they had today show things are headed in the right direction.
-- One of the more exciting plays from the day came from Curtis Samuel, who hauled in a touchdown pass to wrap up two-minute drills and the entire practice. Rivera has noticed a clear increase in Samuel's confidence. The work he has done with the training staff has helped him feel like "he's really gotten over the hump," Rivera said, and that is why he has more energy in practice.
-- Rivera was asked about what he thinks Thomas can do in the Commanders' offense once he makes a full recovery, and the short answer is a lot. The tight end position has been a key part of the system over the past 16 seasons that Rivera has been around it. He referenced Antonio Gates, Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey as an example of what the position can do. He saw some of that before Thomas got hurt, so there is plenty of position for what Thomas and the rest of the tight ends can accomplish this season.
-- Cam Sims is currently in the concussion protocol, and while Rivera did not completely close the door on him being cleared against the Ravens, he did say that Sims will "probably not" play. Rivera added that the process for getting out of concussion protocol normally takes a full week to get through, Sims was added to the protocol earlier this week.
-- Rivera was asked again about his decision on how much the starters will play against the Ravens, and here is his answer: "Very limited, very limited, very limited, very limited."