Curtis Samuel was working through drills during the Washington Commanders' second OTA practice when he slipped on the wet grass that was blanketed by the steady rain falling over the team facility.
If something like that had occurred last year, it would have been more of a cause for alarm. After all, Samuel had dealt with injuries throughout the 2021 season, and he never could gain any momentum in the first season with his new team.
Instead, Samuel popped up, brushed himself off and continued with the rest of the practice unhindered. In fact, the wideout looked impressive as he ran his routes with quickness and precision.
It was one of many signs that Samuel's injury issues are a thing of the past.
"I'm great," Samuel told media members after practice. "Y'all saw me flying around out there."
It's staggering to think about, but Tuesday morning's practice was the most the media had seen of Samuel in action since last year's OTAs. A groin injury kept Samuel out until Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons, and he was limited at best for the rest of the year with a hamstring issue. His final stats for the season were six receptions on nine targets for 27 yards in five games.
Samuel's status shouldn't be surprising for anyone who's read any of the news coming from the receiver this offseason. During the Commanders' locker room cleanouts, he mentioned that he was feeling much better, and he doubled down on that earlier this month, when he told The Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala that he was excited to “finally feel like himself again.”
Ron Rivera is excited about that possibility as well.
"I know who Curtis is," he said. "We drafted him in Carolina and saw the success he had. So, we believe his skill fits what we want to do. We believe it fits very well."
Samuel was the first player in line during individual periods and during throwing drills. He caught all his passes from Carson Wentz and ran every route that was required of him without any issues.
Samuel also looked much faster than what he put on display last year, and there's a reason for that; he didn't lose his speed last year, but he admitted he was being cautious.
"That was the main issue," Samuel said. "I always had it in my mind like something was going to happen to me if I was running fast. Now, [with a] refreshed mind, just excited to be out there, running fast, feeling good."
Samuel credits getting over that cautiousness to his trainer in Miami, who he said "pushed me to the limit."
"That's what I kind of want him to do. I want him to put me in situations, put me in different positions to give me the confidence to know my body's right. Different jumps, different cuts, sharp cuts. After doing that, I was like, 'I can pretty much do anything.'"
It's that kind of versatility that makes Rivera believe he's still an ideal fit for Washington's offense. That was made clear by how he was used during 11-on-11 drills, when he was lined up at a variety of spots on the field.
Where he's lined up doesn't matter to Samuel, although he does feel that him touching the ball helps the team, regardless of how that happens.
"Whatever role I gotta play, no matter if it's a receiver, running the ball, I'm down for whatever."
There was plenty of hype surrounding Samuel when he signed with the Commanders last offseason. The hope is that he would be a viable No. 2 receiver for the offense with the ability to stretch the field in a variety of ways.
It seems like there's a path to that being a reality in 2022, and Rivera is ready to close the book on Samuel's groin issues of last year.
"I'd like to believe we can. I thought he's done a great job with his rehab program this year. Spent a lot of good time with our guys. He's done some really good things on his own, so we just feel right now and hopefully it's gonna continue to trend up."