Reporters were crowded around the running backs during the Washington Commanders' Wednesday practice. Randy Jordan’s individual drills are normally interesting enough on their own, but there was an extra reason for the media to pay attention to the group.
Brian Robinson, who was placed on the Non-Football Injury list after suffering multiple gunshot wounds in August, was designated to return to practice, as was announced by Ron Rivera on Monday, and he was participating in full pads.
There are still some things that need to be determined before Robinson gets activated, but to put it plainly, the rookie looked good during his first practice in almost six weeks.
After stretching with his teammates, Robinson ran routes and caught passes with the rest of the Commanders' running backs. The players were only moving at half speed, but it did not appear as if Robinson had any issues progressing through his routes.
The media got a better look at Robinson's movement during positional drills, which Jordan tends to make more elaborate. The first session involved the running backs running through a series of bags, both forward and sideway, before sprinting back to where the drill began. Robinson had no trouble with either the change of direction or the speed needed to go through the drill.
The next session required Robinson to jump over a group of three bags, sprint through two more, weave around a pole, juke past two trash cans and protect the ball from assistant running backs coach Jennifer King, who was trying to knock the ball loose.
Robinson started the drill moving from right to left and then left to right, and each time he showed the same quickness and awareness that he put on display prior to the injury.
The final session had one last twist; it was the same drill as before, only this time, the running backs started by rolling over a medicine ball. The added wrinkle did not phase Robinson. He kept his feet and made two jukes past the trash cans and King before moving on to team drills.
After the media left practice, Rivera said that Robinson went through a few series on the side with the training staff. Once that was done, he ran a few plays in each period and looked "pretty good" doing it.
"You could see the joy in which he was running around," Rivera said.
Rivera said on Monday that Robinson will have no limitations "initially," but the team wants to see how he handles the increased workload before determining if he will be activated against the Tennessee Titans. Wednesday was a good start for Robinson, and if that progress continues, the Commanders could get a valuable piece back for their backfield.
"We'll see how that goes," Rivera said. "I'm optimistic about it. Just in listening to everything I've heard, it's very promising. But again, as I said, the plan is to not activate him but start his clock on Wednesday and see how he does, and if he continues to progress, there's a very good chance he'll be able to play on Sunday."
Here are some other notes from practice.
-- Jahan Dotson was absent from practice with a hamstring injury. Rivera said on Monday that the injury might keep the rookie out "a week or two." Dotson is currently tied with Stephon Diggs for the most receiving touchdowns in the league (4).
-- Curtis Samuel was also absent from practice on Wednesday with an illness that is not COVID-19.
-- Rivera has told the players to "keep coming to work" as they hope to improve upon the team's 1-3 start to the season. He believes there are some positives on the field (such as the running game and third-down defense) that they can take advantage of if they continue to work and get better as a football team.
-- Rivera preached discipline when it came to stopping Jalen Hurts in Week 3. On Sunday, the team will face Derrick Henry, and the Commanders' head coach wants to see the same thing from his defense in Week 5.
"You have to be where you're supposed to be. You gotta make sure you're in your creases and make sure that you're squared up in your creases. You don't wanna be getting to there as he's already there. Then you'll end up in an arm tackle, and as you've seen, he goes right through arm tackles."
-- Rivera confirmed that Sam Cosmi did have hand surgery but did not give a timeline on his return. He will meet with the doctor to determine what the next steps are in his recovery.