The past four months have been full of new experiences for Sammis Reyes. What else is there to expect from someone who was being introduced to an entirely new sport?
Reyes, the first Chilean-born player to make an NFL roster, has added plenty to his resume since raising eyebrows at the University of Florida's Pro Day last year. He recorded a couple of tackles on special teams, and he received his first offensive snaps in the Washington Football Team's upset over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in November.
Making a catch in a regular season game has eluded him so far, though, but with the chance of increased playing time coming in Week 18, that search could be over soon, and he's ready to show the results of all his hard work.
"I've taken every step in the right direction," Reyes said. "I've worked extremely hard this year, so I think it's time I get out there and do my thing."
Reyes' coaches have a small sample size of what he can do as a pass-catcher in a game situation. He cad three receptions for 27 yards in the preseason. One grab came on a third-and-2, while most of his production came on a 21-yard gain on a 15-play, 92-yard touchdown drive.
Since then, though, most of Reyes' snaps have come on special teams, and any offensive snaps have featured him as a blocker. He's made growth in practice, though, and now, after months of getting his feet wet in the sport, he feels like a different player.
"I think my ability to track the ball has improved tremendously," Reyes said. "I'm very comfortable catching the ball. I feel like sometimes whatever is thrown at me, I can get it … I think I've increased my ability to be a route-running, and I think I've increased my ability to understand coverages."
As it turns out, his coaches have taken notice.
"One thing that's been fun to watch has been his play on special teams," said head coach Ron Rivera. "You've seen him play faster and faster and more physical because he's more confident in what he's doing and how he's doing it."
None of those improvements would have been possible without tight ends coach Pete Hoener, Reyes said. Hoener has loudly given Reyes pointers throughout the season, and the rookie has been grateful for all of them. It's partly because of that style that he feels so confident about his abilities.
"He's created a standard that I have to meet every single day," Reyes said. "Now, when I watch film…he doesn't have to tell me anymore because I already know, because he's ingrained that into my brain so many times."
The Washington Football Team begins its final week of practice for the 2021 season ahead of its Week 18 road trip against the New York Giants. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
The time he's had on the field has helped him as well. Getting reps in practice is great, but putting everything he's learned into action, even if it's only on special teams, has provided a boost to his entire skillset.
"I feel so much better than I did when I got started, and I think that's huge for me," he said.
Offensive coordinator Scott Turner has seen Reyes grow in practice every day, and while the team might not get a look at his full potential this season, he does believe it's coming soon.
"He's got a really good future and I think just being introduced to football this year has been big and the leaps and bounds he's come," Turner said.
Rivera believes that Reyes could see his snap count could "double" from the previous week against the Philadelphia Eagles. In a game that will have a focus on Washington evaluating its future, it will be an opportunity to get one more good look at Reyes before the offseason.
And he sounds eager to see how Reyes handles it.
"It'll be interesting to watch him and see where he is in terms of his growth."