The Washington Commanders are inching closer to the preseason opener, and the team is starting to prepare for what they think they'll see against the Carolina Panthers.
The energy during Wednesday's practice was much lighter than Tuesday, which had more intensity due to the players being in full pads. Still, the offense looked crisp once again with Carson Wentz building upon the strong practice from Day 12.
Here are some of the observations from the day:
-- Let's get things started with seven-on-seven drills. Wentz completed 3-of-6 passes, one of which was a grab from Terry McLaurin near the right sideline. Statistically, it wasn't as good of a performance as yesterday, when he hit all six of his targets. However, it's worth noting that none of the mistakes were on Wentz. Two of his incompletions were drops from Antonio Gibson and Curtis Samuel, while the other was an impressive pass breakup from Danny Johnson. Perhaps the pass breakup by Johnson was slightly behind the receiver, but for the most part, Wentz was accurate with his throws.
-- There were a few passes that from Wentz and Taylor Heinicke that were nearly interceptions. During a blitz period, Bobby McCain had a pass slip through his grasp, while newcomer Nate Gerry could hold on to a pass from Heinicke. The defense has not had many interceptions since the pads came on last week -- McCain ended up grabbing one later in the practice -- but defensive backs are still fighting for the ball and providing sticky coverage.
-- Wentz had a positive series during goal line drills with two touchdowns. The first came on a slant route by McLaurin, while the next came from Dyami Brown in the back of the end zone. They were the latest examples of the growing chemistry between Wentz and his receivers. We'll see the first real test against the Panthers on Aug. 13, but after an up-and-down first half of camp, things are starting to be more consistent.
-- Trai Turner, one of the new additions to the Commanders' offensive line this offseason, has not been on the field during training camp, but coach Ron Rivera does not seem bothered by the lack of reps. As someone who was in Rivera's system with the Panthers for six seasons, Turner already knows the techniques and schemes that the Commanders will use, so Rivera doesn't see the need to rush him back. He is listed as the starting right guard on the unofficial depth chart, so clearly the staff still has confidence in what he can offer.
-- Arguably the catch of the day came from McLaurin during 11-on-11 drills. Wentz unloaded a 35-yard shot to the receiver, who was sprinting down the sideline while being covered by McCain. McLaurin brought it in and finished the play by running for the end zone.
-- Rivera mentioned before camp that the bottom of the receiver position would be particularly competitive, and Dax Milne has had several standout practices. He opened 11-on-11 drills today with a sideline grab, and his consistency has been noticed by Rivera. He continues to make catches, the head coach said, and he's started to stack together a resume that he deserves one of the few receiver spots available.
-- Here are a couple minor notes regarding special teams and injured players: With Alex Erickson and Milne being the primary return options, both players were on the field returning kickoffs today. John Bates was at practice again today, and Samuel made a return as well. William Jackson III was also at practice, while Cole Turner is still nursing his hamstring on the side field.