The regular season 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.
There's a lot of news flying around as the Washington Football Team begins its preparations for the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 12. The status of Curtis Samuel is undoubtedly one of the topics fans are most anxious to hear about.
It makes sense that they're curious; after all, Washington eyed him in the offseason as a player who could help open up its offense. Given that Samuel has spent almost all summer nursing a groin injury, there hasn't been much of an opportunity to show off that vaunted versatility that Samuel flaunted in four seasons with the Panthers.
That changed Monday afternoon, as Samuel was a limited participant for the first time since mid-August. So, how did he look?
"I thought Curtis looked good," said head coach Ron Rivera. "We didn't want to overwork him and risk tightening up or anything like that. But we thought, the things we asked him to do, he looked pretty good."
During the portion of practice that is open to media members, Samuel ran through individual drills and caught passes from the quarterbacks with the rest of his fellow receivers. Once play installation and team drills began, the team put Samuel through a "limited number of plays to get a gauge on where he is in his recovery.
"Watch him catch the ball, watch him burst and turn it up field, watch him catch the ball through traffic, watch him go deep," Rivera said. "We got to see all of that today."
For Samuel, it's been a long, tough journey to get to this point. He would rather have been practicing at the start of training camp, but he wanted to be cautious to make sure his recovery was on the right track. There were moments when he wanted to test those limits, but he would realize that he wasn't ready, so he would double his rehab efforts.
Patience, it would seem, has been a point of emphasis for Samuel.
"Especially my first year on the team, I want to be out there with them," Samuel said. "But I just got to make sure I'm healthy first, because if I come back and I'm not feeling great, I'm just going to have another setback later on down the road."
Being honest with himself was also important to Samuel. If he wasn't candid about his recovery, then that would mean he wasn't being candid with the team. He can't help Washington win games if he keeps having setbacks. He wants to come back the right way, because that's the only way he can make the team better.
"It's not really about me, it's about us, and whatever I need to do to make the team better, I'm down for it."
Samuel put together a good day; that is definitive progress. If he wants to be on the field Sunday, he'll have to stack together a week's work of good days. Rivera doesn't need to see Samuel have a full practice, but he wants to watch him when he's on the field. The next step will be Tuesday morning, a players' day off, to see how he feels.
"Just continuing to work and after every day of work, just that he's feeling good the next day," Rivera said. "That's probably the biggest indicator for us is that he comes out and says, 'Hey, I had a good day.' How'd you feel? 'I felt good this morning. So let's roll.'"
After that, Samuel will need to have similar days on Wednesday and Thursday. That will go a long way towards him being active on Sunday. If so, then Rivera wants to slowly build up Samuel's workload.
"You just have to be careful and be smart about it," Rivera said, "and that's what we're working towards."
Washington is matching up against a talented Chargers offense with Justin Herbert, last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year, under center. Having Samuel on the field gives them a better chance of coming away with a win. So, will Samuel suit up for Week 1?
"Maybe," Samuel said with a smile. "Who knows? We're going to see."