The Washington Commanders began another week of OTAs on Tuesday. Let's take a look at some of the top observations.
-- It seems to be a recurring theme, but Eric Bieniemy appears to be getting more vocal with each practice. Perhaps part of that was because the team planned on ending the day with two-minute drills (more on that later), but he was constantly reminding his players to pick up the pace and get in and out of the huddle with more urgency. "We need to wake up!" he yelled at one point. "We got work to do!"
-- Before we get into the team drills, here are a couple things of note from individual drills: sixth-round pick Chris Rodriguez looked more comfortable to start the day. He was more decisive, ran with increased quickness and looked as though he was acting more on muscle memory than overthinking each step.
On the other end of the field, the quarterbacks and receivers were practicing throws under duress. One of the coaches would act as a blitzer, and the quarterbacks had to lob their passer over the simulated pass rush. Bieniemy was observing most of the drill, and he gave some specific praise to Curtis Samuel and Dax Milne for the sharpness of their routes and getting upfield.
-- On to 7-on-7 drills. It was a strong start for both Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett, as they completed all their passes. One play that stood out during the session was Howell's pass to Dyami Brown, who created separation from Benjamin St-Juste to give Howell a window for a modest gain.
-- Speaking of Brown, it's clear that he and Howell's connection from their days together at North Carolina has lost none of its luster. Howell targeted Brown six times during practice, and the wideout was able to haul in four passes.
-- Moving on to the red zone, Emmanuel Forbes was one of the clear defensive standouts. Howell threw his way on back-to-back plays -- once to Brown and once to John Bates -- and the first-round pick forced him to make off-target throws. On the throw to Bates, Forbes had the tight end pinned in the corner of the end zone with no room to stretch out and grab Howell's pass. Both Brown (195 pounds) and Bates (259 pounds) outweigh Forbes, so it was encouraging to see him hold his own against bigger pass-catchers.
-- The real highlight of the session was a wild play that started with a pass from Brissett to Milne. Milne's first attempt at making the reception bounced about 15 yards in the air. A scramble ensued with the defensive backs all making a grab for the ball, but after it was tipped a couple times, Milne still secured the reception for a touchdown.
-- Here are a few defensive highlights from 11-on-11 drills: after completing a pass to Samuel, Howell's ensuing attempt to Terry McLaurin was broken up by Kendall Fuller at the last second. Two plays later, Howell's pass was intercepted by Casey Toohill as he was scrambling to the left trying to keep a play alive.
The Washington Commanders got back to work on Tuesday to begin Week 2 of OTA practices. Check out the top photos from this afternoon.
-- Howell ended the day on a good note during two-minute drills. The offense had 90 seconds to move down the field, and Howell looked like he had command of the unit as he completed 5-of-7 passes. The first two passes were examples of him trusting his receivers. Logan Thomas made a leaping catch over Khaleke Hudson to start the drill, and that was followed up by McLaurin wrestling the ball away from Fuller. Howell targeted Brown on three of his last four attempts with the last one falling just out of Brown's reach near the goal line. The starters ended the drive with a field goal from 41 yards out.
-- Undrafted free agents need to find ways to stand out if they hope to make the roster, and Jalen Sample did that by supplying the catch of the day over Tariq Castro-Fields. Quarterback Jake Fromm floated a 40-yard shot downfield in Sample's direction, and while he did have to slow up to get in position for the catch, he managed to leap over Castro-Fields.