The Washington Commanders' offense and defense have been pitted against each other for the better part of two weeks now, and they're ready to see another team on the other side of the ball.
How can we tell? Practice was a bit chippy on Day 9 of training camp for most of the morning. Whether it was Nick Gates throwing a football at Phidarian Mathis, Chase Young mouthing off to the offense during drills or Terry McLaurin getting upset during 11-on-11 drills, there was clear tension between the two groups.
Obviously, coach Ron Rivera and his staff do not condone such behavior. It takes away the valuable time they have on the field to improve each day. However, Rivera was not surprised to see the hostility.
"I expected it to be exactly what it was," Rivera said. "This is our ninth practice, our fifth on in a row, and quite honestly, I kind of felt that was going to happen … I would be disappointed if we weren't chippy."
Rivera likes to see the team building grit and toughness, and the players know both are part of the game. Benjamin St-Juste said as much after practice, adding that he believes both traits can help bring out the best of everyone.
What Rivera doesn't like is when things go too far, and players lose their poise. That happened a couple of times in practice, and the immaturity showed, Rivera said, and he wants the players to handle that better.
Rivera wants Friday's practice to be a learning opportunity for everyone.
"When you're tired, when you get hot and get frustrated and things aren't going your way, you gotta bounce back," Rivera said.
Here are some other observations from camp.
-- Let's start off with some injury updates. Logan Thomas was held out of practice today out of an abundance of caution, Rivera said, because of a minor calf injury. Emmanuel Forbes tweaked his groin near the beginning of practice and sat out for the rest of the day. Rivera said after practice that he didn't believe it was serious, and Forbes walked off the field with no issues.
-- Now, let's get to the action on the field. With all the chippiness happening throughout the day, the defense was hyped up on the energy. Darrick Forrest picked up a fumble from Derrick Gore and ran it into the end zone with plenty of cheers from the defense.
-- Young and Montez Sweat could be heard heckling the offense all day. Young was the most vocal of the two and shouted at the offense after multiple false starts during two-minute drills.
-- Terry McLaurin and Forbes have battled throughout camp, and the rookie won their most recent matchup. Sam Howell delivered a shot to McLaurin during 11-on-11 drills, but Forbes came from behind and knocked the ball away.
-- Add Milo Eifler to the list of defenders who have grabbed an interception so far in camp. The play came during 7-on-7 drills when a pass from Howell was tipped in the air, allowing the linebacker to grab it and start running the opposite direction.
-- Ricky Stromberg had some solid reps in 1-on-1 pass protection drills with multiple defensive linemen trying to bull rush him. Stromberg lowered his hips and stalled the rushes, winning the reps at the line of scrimmage.
-- Young was vocal during pass protection drills, too, and lined up at multiple spots on the defensive line. He apparently had issue with Jaryd Jones-Smith, because the undrafted offensive lineman was the focal point for several of Young's jabs. Young had Jones-Smith line up against all the starting defensive linemen, and aside from one rep against Sweat, they won all their matchups.