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OTA Notebook Week 2: Competition From Top To Bottom

Jaret Patterson tries to find an open running lane during the Washington Football Team's OTAs. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Jaret Patterson tries to find an open running lane during the Washington Football Team's OTAs. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)

_The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the opinion of the team. _

The Washington Football Team is rolling into Week 2 of OTAs, and just like last week, head coach Ron Rivera is happy with what he saw from his players.

"I really love their attentiveness, their recall was very good," Rivera said after practice. "Tuesday was a little sluggish coming off the four-day weekend, but they finished strong. And then today, they started fast and the finished fast. I had to tone them down a little bit. They were getting a little excited, but it's good to see them competitive."

Here are some observations from Wednesday's practice.

-- Montez Sweat was on the field after being absent for last week's voluntary workouts, and he looked exactly like what people have come to expect from the third-year pro. He was quick, strong and dominant during team drills, albeit still in the toned down setting of practice. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio expects Sweat, Chase Young and the rest of the defensive line to take another step this season, saying that they are always looking to sharpen the tools in their toolbox.

-- There were several memorable plays from the running backs on Wednesday, such as a positive catch-and-run from Antonio Gibson in the later portion of practice. One of the best moments, however, came from undrafted rookie Jaret Patterson. Patterson made a cut at the line of scrimmage before turning upfield and ran straight through the middle of the defense untouched for a chunk of yardage. The play got some praise from running backs coach Randy Jordan, who yelled out "nice cut!" as Patterson was sprinting into the secondary.

-- With all the wide receivers that Washington brought in this offseason, the group is undoubtedly going to be one of the most competitive over the next few months. Isaiah Wright, who made the roster last season as an undrafted free agent, had a few eye-catching plays in the early portion of practice. He made a pair of receptions during down-and-distance team drills, one of which ended with him getting into the end zone. Wright may not have the same notoriety as Terry McLaurin or Curtis Samuel, but today was a reminder that Washington's receiver corps is filled with talent.

-- Many know by now that John Bates is an accomplished blocker, but there are some who point out that Bates' hands, even though he did not have much production as a pass-catcher at Boise State, are almost as impressive. There have been flashes of that during individual drills, but the best example came during Wednesday's practice when Bates caught a contested pass with cornerback Kendall Fuller providing tight coverage. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Bates has the best hands in this year's draft class outside of Kyle Pitts, and plays like the one made against Fuller add vindication to that claim.

-- Another week, another interception celebration from the defensive backs. This time, it was newcomer Bobby McCain who snagged a pick in the second half of practice off a throw from Ryan Fitzpatrick. As usual, the defense took the field and ran alongside him down the field, and as jogged back to the play, he got a little extra time with defensive backs coach Chris Harris praising him along the way.

-- The secondary is going to be another group full of players looking to carve out a role themselves. Aside from McCain and Fuller, there is also William Jackson III, Landon Collins and a wealth of young players with high expectations. Kamren Curl, who received significant playing time last season, is among them. It is not yet known what Washington has planned for him in his second season, but Del Rio believes he can fit in whatever role he is asked to take on. His position flexibility offers a litany of options for Del Rio and his staff. And since he made an impression during his rookie season, the coaches expect him to put forth a similar performance with more experience.

-- Rivera praised how much effort the players are putting into OTAs and noted several who are giving their all on every rep, including Fitzpatrick and Brandon Scherff. Although Fitzpatrick is still new to the system, but he is putting the ball where it needs to be and leading the offense. Rivera said he has also been working with the receivers to build more chemistry with them on the passing game. That work was noticeable throughout practice, as the receivers had several clean catches.

-- Speaking of quarterbacks, Taylor Heinicke is looking noticeably bigger and stronger, which was one of his goals heading into the offseason. He said after practice that he put on 15 pounds of what he called "good weight" while still managing to keep his agility that was put on display during Washington's playoff game in January. Heinicke said he has been working out five or six times each week and keeping up with a healthy diet. Most of his workouts were with Joel Seedman, who focuses more on functional movement rather than heavy lifting.

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