The Washington Commanders wrapped up their first week of training camp in front of thousands of cheering fans, and the defense balled out to wrap up a stellar practice for the unit. Here are some of the highlights from both sides of the ball.
-- It took until Day 4, but Emmanuel Forbes grabbed his first pick of training camp, and he didn't have to wait long for his first opportunity. On the second play of 11-on-11 drills, Forbes jumped a route from Terry McLaurin and caught the pass in stride. Coach Ron Rivera has been impressed with Forbes so far in camp, saying that the rookie has tremendous study habits and practices the way Rivera thinks he's going to play.
-- Another defensive back who stood out today and throughout the first week of camp was Tariq Castro-Fields. He started the day with a pass breakup while working against Curtis Hodges, and he carried that momentum throughout Saturday's practice. Later in the day, he showed off impressive closing speed during team drills by sprinting towards Chris Rodriguez for what would have been a tackle for loss in a game scenario.
-- The bleachers and areas surrounding the practice fields were packed with fans, by far the most so far this training camp, to celebrate "Back Together Saturday." Rivera said after that he could feel how different the energy was today and appreciated how loud they got during field goal drills to simulate what Slye and Badgley will experience in games. And he had a message for the thousands of fans in attendance after practice.
"We really appreciate you all coming out and supporting the football team," Rivera said. "It's a big deal to have you folks back here. It means a lot. Even during the hard times, you guys were behind us in spirit. And being out here, having our guys seeing you, brings energy. It brings a lot of energy, and we need that going forward."
-- Forbes wasn't the only player who grabbed an interception today. The next one came from Troy Apke, who secured the pass from Jake Fromm to wrap up the series. Apke, who was on the practice squad last year, has managed to stick around primarily for his ability in special teams, but the cornerback does manage to make plays during camp each year.
-- The Commanders have started to implement more running plays into the script, and Eric Bieniemy has made sure to emphasize one of his most critical points: the backs need to finish every play. So, Brian Robinson, Antonio Gibson and the rest of the back has started to run an extra 30-40 yards after the play is dead in an effort to establish good habits during the regular season.
-- Quan Martin hasn't made many highlight plays during the first week of camp, but he has done his job and found ways to be around the ball. A good example of that came during 11-on-11 drills, when Jacoby Brissett tried to deliver a pass near the sideline to Kazmeir Allen. Allen made the catch, but Martin fought through his blocker and wrapped up Allen for a tackle.
-- It was mostly a defensively dominated day, but there were some solid plays from receivers today. Dyami Brown had another good day with catches in 7-on-7 drills, and undrafted free agent Zion Bowens ended a period by hauling in a deep shot from Fromm near the end zone.
-- Here's a development on the competition at left guard: near the end of practice, Chris Paul was getting reps with the first group over Saahdiq Charles, who began training camp as the incumbent starter. Rivera has praised Paul since he was drafted last offseason, and several defensive linemen talked about how impressed they were with him. There's still a long way to go until that battle is decided, but it will be one to watch going forward.
-- The Commanders have also begun field goal drills over the past two practices, and so far, the battle between Joey Slye and Michael Badgley is even with both players making all eight of their field goal attempts. Rivera said after Day 1 that he expects competition between Slye and Badgley, which he thinks will bring the best out of both players.