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Minicamp notebook | Rookies show confidence heading into offseason break

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The Washington Commanders' offseason workout program is now finished. The next time we see the team will be in late July when training camp starts. 

Most of the starting and primary backups took a back seat in the final practice of mandatory minicamp in place of the rookies and reserve players. Here are some observations and quotes from Thursday morning. 

-- Sam Howell and Cole Kelley were the only quarterbacks to get reps during team drills. It was an up-and-down day for both signal-callers, although they did have some flashes. Both scored a touchdown during red zone drills with Howell hitting Alex Erickson in the back of the end zone. During the second and final team drills of the day, Howell also hit a wide-open Cole Turner in the middle of the field. Howell has been embracing his role as the third string quarterback, using this time to learn and get accustomed to the NFL. Thursday was likely the most reps he's received in a single day, and while he did show that he still has a long way to go, he is making progress.

-- Darrick Forrest, one of the defensive players Ron Rivera highlighted as a standout this offseason, ended minicamp with an interception after a pass from Kelley slipped through the receiver's hands. Rivera has seen "a tremendous amount of growth" from Forrest, and the interception is hardly the first time he's made a big play in the past month. He's also been a factor on special teams and become a leader for the group.

-- We now have a month-long sample of what the Commanders could look like with Carson Wentz under center, and what impressed Rivera the most was how quickly he acclimated himself to the team. He didn't waste any time getting comfortable with his new teammates and building a rapport with his receivers. There were times when Rivera saw Wentz show confidence in his skill set, and that spread to the rest of the offense.

-- There have been some questions as to how the rest of the secondary will look behind the starting unit, and there have been several players who have stood out to Rivera. He's been pleased with how eager and anxious the young safeties are to make an impact. Percy Butler has shown that he has "a terrific skill set," and Rivera believes Christian Holmes has a level of physicality that will show up even more once the pads come on. Another young player who has stood out is Jeremy Reaves. It's clear to Rivera that he has a strong understanding of the system and has taken charge in the backend of the defense.

-- The surge in confidence is not something that only a few have shown this offseason. Rivera has noticed that in several of the rookie and second-year players. They have a firmer grasp of the offensive and defense concepts now that they've experienced a full offseason. They've matured in terms of understanding what the team could be if everyone buys into Rivera's message. They look comfortable, and that gives the coaches confidence heading into the dead period.

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