Logan Thomas has been making steady progress in recovering from a calf injury he suffered in training camp. First, he was on the side field working with trainers. That was followed by running individual drills, and ahead of the preseason finale, he was spotted running routes.
On Wednesday, the Washington Commanders' No. 1 tight end was practicing with his teammates, marking another positive step for the veteran as he prepares for his eighth NFL season.
"I feel good," Thomas said in the locker room after practice. "I feel back to normal. Feels good to get my feet back under me."
The development is good news for Thomas and the team, because prior to his injury, he was one of the bigger standouts from the first week of camp. He and Sam Howell seemed to be developing a strong connection, and he was rewarding that faith with contested catches in the middle of the field.
Thomas first began dealing with the injury on Aug. 8, and since then his appearances on the field have been sparse. The decision to keep him out was done out of caution by the staff, partly because he's an older player, but also because Thomas dealt with injuries the last two seasons.
Ron Rivera and the coaches wanted to make sure Thomas, who looks to be a key part of Washington's offense, was fully healthy and ready to contribute.
"Yes, it was two seasons ago, but you can't be too careful, especially in this situation and in this offense knowing just how vital the tight end is to this offense," Rivera said. "We've gotta be very smart about that."
While Thomas described the injury as "annoying" and felt he let his tight end group down because of how much time he missed, he does appreciate the staff giving him the time he needed to rest. Now, there are "no limitations" to his health.
"Getting the reps I did, I feel good," Thomas said. "No residual effects. We're good."
Thomas' focus has shifted from recovery to building on the chemistry he had with Howell. That's one of the things he wishes he had during that time off because of how well they were gelling together. That has already begun, as he said he and the quarterback have been spending time working after practice to catch up on the time they missed.
"The only thing he wants to do it win and...be great for us," Thomas said of Howell. "Be great, and put W's on the board. And he'll do that. We're super excited about who he is and how he commands this locker room.
And Rivera believes Thomas' presence will elevate the entire offense.
"This is a guy who's a former quarterback, so he sits there and he looks at the coverages and he knows instantly, you know what I'm saying? It's from his training that a lot of the things he does will translate into making the right decisions in terms of route running and how to present him himself open to the quarterback."
Let's take a look at some of the other observations from practice.
-- Prior to the start of practice, the Commanders released the players who made their practice squad. Rivera said the team "went ahead and explored every avenue, and we're very comfortable with where we are right now." You can check out who made the list HERE.
-- One player you won't see on that list yet is former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jabril Cox, who was reportedly signed to the practice squad shortly after the first list was announced. Cox, a fourth-round pick in 2021, has appeared in 16 games with eight tackles in his career. Rivera said the team liked Cox coming out of the draft because he is "a physical specimen" who can run and make an impact.
"He'll have to learn, he'll have to grow, but he's got the skillset that you're looking for as far as that position is concerned."
-- For the fans who care deeply about jersey numbers, Byron Pringle has switched from wearing No. 16 to No. 3.
-- On Howell, Rivera said he has seen growth from the quarterback in learning his teammates' strengths.
"I think you see it mostly when you look at the receivers, where he throws the ball, how he throws the ball to certain guys. You see some of them, he'll throw a little bit more of a teardrop as opposed to putting the ball a little bit on the line."
-- Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon has yet to name a starting quarterback, citing a competitive advantage as his team prepares for the season opener against Washington. Rivera can understand the approach.
"The thing about it for us more than anything else is they're relatively new in terms of what they do offensively, schematically," Rivera said "In his eyes, both quarterbacks [Josh Dobbs and Clayton Tune] have a different skillset, which we see and so because of it, yeah, you're going to have to do certain things and say, 'okay, if this guy's in, we'll do this, this guy's in, we may do that.'"