Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera announced on Friday that wide receiver Curtis Samuel will be "ready to roll" on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons after being on Injured Reserve with a groin injury to start the season.
"I just think he's gotten healthier, more so than anything else," Rivera said during his press conference.
Samuel, who Washington signed as a free agent in March, was one of the team's biggest acquisitions in the offseason, and for good reason. Samuel is coming off the best season of his career with 1,051 yards of total offense, including 851 yards on 77 receptions. Despite only starting five games in 2020, Samuel was third on the team in targets (97) and averaged 11.1 yards per catch.
The team has yet to see how Samuel can impact its offense, though, because Samuel's groin injury has left him sidelined for most of OTAs and all of training camp. Samuel tried to practice ahead of Washington's Week 1 opener against the Los Angeles Chargers but pulled up during individual drills and placed on Injured Reserve later in the week.
Samuel returned to practice on Wednesday, and Rivera has been pleased with how the receiver has performed over the past three days. He even said Samuel showed his speed on some deep routes.
There is no clear answer on how much Samuel will be used against the Falcons, but Rivera believes the fact that he'll be on the field is a positive for his teammates.
"People have to account for him, whether he gets the ball or he doesn't get the ball," Rivera said. "There's so many things that he brings to the table that'll help us."
Samuel, who ran a 4.31 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine, is set to be paired with third-year pro Terry McLaurin, who ran a 4.35 before being taken by Washington in the third round of the 2019 draft.
Washington's primary concern with Samuel has always been whether he's physically ready to make his debut. His familiarity with the system gives Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner confidence that he will fit into Washington's offense right away. Regardless of how many snaps he plays, he has a chance for a solid debut, as the Falcons' pass defense ranks in the bottom half of the league.
"He can get back in pretty quickly," Turner said. "We'll just kind of pick our spots and decide the things that they were going to do with him, but it's not a very big challenge.