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Practice notes, 8/23 | Commanders begin prep for final preseason game

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The Washington Commanders were back on the practice field on Wednesday for the first time since their preseason win over the Baltimore Ravens. It was a mostly light day, as the team dressed in shells to begin preparations for their final preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but there were still a few highlights on the field as well as some useful insights from Ron Rivera and Eric Bieniemy’s press conferences. 

Let's take a look at what happened during practice. 

-- We'll start off with Rivera's press conference, when the head coach provided updates on several of the Commanders' injured players. Rivera confirmed that Terry McLaurin's X-rays on his toe were negative, and the team would "get him off his feet" for the next few days before getting him ready for next week. Logan Thomas began sideline work today, which Rivera said is a positive step for the tight end. Chase Young has a doctor's appointment later this week, but things are looking positive. Young also participated in team drills today, which is another encouraging sign towards his progress. 

-- Jacoby Brissett took most of the reps with the starting offense today. That was an expected move from the team this week since Brissett will likely play most of the snaps against the Bengals. Rivera and the team haven't confirmed it yet, but it's unlikely that Howell, as well as most of the starters on either side of the ball, will be active for Saturday's game.

-- Rivera had to dedicate a good chunk of his time during his first three seasons with the Commanders toward finding an answer at quarterback. There was always a question mark, Rivera said, as well as a discussion on what resources the team could use to find a solution. Now that Howell has been named the starter, the team feels like it made the right choice.

"I'm pretty comfortable, pretty confident, and I look forward to seeing it," Rivera said.

-- Cody Barton and Jamin Davis were some of the few defensive starters that played during the Ravens game, and that decision was made based on the desire for the two to get more comfortable with each other. Rivera has been pleased with both players, though. He believes Barton is getting more acclimated to the system and personnel, and his play speed improved throughout camp. On Davis, Rivera feels like he is playing faster and is playing with more confidence.

-- Rivera also addressed the state of the competition at left guard, saying that both Saahdiq Charles and Chris Paul have impressed him in practice and preseason games. The team will make a decision on who will start soon, but Rivera said they have been playing so well that they may need to figure out ways of getting them both on the field.

"They both are stout, powerful young men," Rivera said. "They're both smart, young football players."

-- Cole Turner found ways to stand out once again on Wednesday with three impressive catches. The best of the three came during seven-on-seven drills, when he snatched a pass from Brissett out of the air at the last second and finished the play in the end zone.

-- Speaking of touchdowns, the starting offense only needed two plays to move down the field during two-minute drills. After a pass from Brissett to Turner moved the unit up about 10 yards, Jahan Dotson got the score near the back of the end zone.

-- It was the first time Bieniemy had spoken to the media since Howell was named the starting quarterback, and while he still wants to see growth from the young quarterback, he believes that Howell is developing at the right pace.

"His progression is right where you would like it to be," Bieniemy said. "He's stayed the course. He's learned a lot just being out there every single day. I think watching Jacoby go out there and sling it around, making all the throws and letting everything go free, that has helped him. Because Jacoby is an outspoken individual in that room, and he's helped Sam tremendously."

-- The same could be said for the Commanders' offense. There's still a lot of work left to be done for the unit before it gets to the level that satisfies Bieniemy, but his noticeable growth has the offensive coordinator pleased with what he has seen so far.

"Our guys are finding ways -- creative ways -- to drag themselves across the finish line," Bieniemy said. "When you have that resilience, it's something that you can build upon. I'm starting to see the second effort. On top of that, I'm seeing guys play faster. So, all those things are just coming to light."

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