The Washington Commanders have been practicing hard in the blazing heat for the past week with the last two days featuring players in full pads.
After a week of ramping things up at the team facility, things were calmer at Ashburn on Thursday as the players were back in jerseys and shorts for a walkthrough.
-- Rivera broke down nearly every depth player who has received snaps at defensive end. James Smith-Williams, who was the No. 3 player on the depth chart at the position last year, brings physicality on the edge. He called Casey Toohill a true "try-hard guy" who gets upfield that relies on his initial quickness. Rivera also mentioned Will Bradley-King, who has developed an interesting skill set that could be useful in obvious passing downs.
-- Rivera has seen Efe Obada’s knowledge and comfort in the game grow throughout the years. When they first met back in 2018, Obada was anxious about getting on the field, and that limited him from learning as much as he could about his position. Now, Obada has been working on specific things and understanding the significance of details like leverage and hand placement. Obada is still learning the game, but he's becoming a strong rotational piece for the defensive front.
-- The Commanders have three international players on the roster: Obada, Sammis Reyes and David Bada. They have a different flare about them because of how hard they've worked to reach this point in their careers. There aren't a lot of bad habits, so the coaches are able to mold them into players who use the proper techniques. All three players, Rivera said, are tremendous athletes.
-- Sweat has had plenty of opportunities to shine during camp while Chase Young is on the PUP list. Sweat said Young is a strong-minded individual and often gives him advice. He's been with the defensive line every day and participates in every meeting. He's a leader for us, Sweat said.
-- Sweat cracked a wide smile when his new son was brought up. Fatherhood has changed him a lot and given him a new perspective on things. He wants to be a role model in everything he does for his son. The whole experience has been a blessing for him and his family.
-- Sweat has been passing along advice to some of the younger tight ends as they learn how to block at the NFL level. He feels like it's his job to get them ready for the regular season. He has given tips based on how opposing tight ends have tried to block him, and he knows his younger teammates are going to use that information.
-- There were referees at practice today, at Leno joked that wants to learn what he can do to avoid getting holding calls. But Leno did acknowledge the benefit of speaking with officials because he's able to learn what they're looking for when calling penalties. Leno only had one penalty in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus, but it's still good information to have.
-- Leno already has a solid connection with Andrew Norwell, saying that it didn't take long for them to click. They're both veterans, and Leno loves the game that he brings to the offensive line. They both go out and play, Leno said, and that something the eight-year pro can appreciate.
-- Leno can tell that Brian Robinson is a natural runner. He understands patience and how to work running lanes. He's also a big player, so he's tough to stop when he gets momentum.