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Training Camp Notebook: A Lockdown Day From The Defense

Torry McTyer makes a play against Antonio Gandy-Golden during Washington's "Friday Night Football" practice at FedExField. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Torry McTyer makes a play against Antonio Gandy-Golden during Washington's "Friday Night Football" practice at FedExField. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)

The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.

The Washington Football Team was back on the field Sunday morning, and while there are still about two weeks from final cuts, the roster is already starting to whittle down its options.

The team started the morning by announcing the release of wide receiver Kelvin Harmon, running back Lamar Miller and cornerback Chris Miller. This falls in line with the league rules, which indicate that clubs must cut down its roster to 85 players by Aug. 17. As it stands, Washington has 86 players on the active roster.

On the field, Ron Rivera and the coaches were putting players in different roles to figure out the full range of their capabilities in addition to seeing how they meshed with their teammates. Here are some observations from practice.

-- Benjamin St-Juste’s number of snaps with the starting defense has continued to increase. The lineup for the secondary in several sessions including St-Juste paired with William Jackson III on the outside with Kendall Fuller defending the slot. It's worth noting that this lineup could be a response to the offensive formations. However, it also speaks to how the coaches view St-Juste's ability. St-Juste has a 6-foot-3, 200-pound corner and had some physical plays against the Patriots. Should St-Juste keep having good practices, it will likely lead to more playing time for him throughout the preseason.

-- Sammis Reyes has gotten noticeably better as a blocker. He sealed off the left side of the defense on a run by Jaret Patterson, which resulted in a four-yard gain, and he had strong technique in practice. Rivera doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself, but he said Friday that Reyes might be one of the most physical players at his position. Reyes has been trying to blend his physical style with using the proper technique as a blocker. The result, he said after practice, will be beautiful.

-- Kyle Allen and Curtis Samuel made a return to practice and were in full pads Sunday morning. Samuel participated in individual drills but not in team drills, while Allen was back in his original spot behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke. Rivera was not concerned about Samuel being held out of team drills, saying that it's all part of the process to get him ramped up. He's also expressed confidence that Samuel knows the system, so there's no need to rush him back on the field. The head coach summed up his answer by simply saying it's just a matter of time before Samuel is fully ready to go.

-- The secondary was having a field day against Washington's quarterbacks today. Over the course of just a handful of plays in 9-on-9 drills, the group came down with three interceptions. The first was from Jimmy Moreland, who perfectly read a throw by Heinicke. One play later, Troy Apke picked off Allen on the right sideline. Then it was Danny Johnson’s turn, as he knocked the ball away from Antonio Gandy-Golden and nabbed the interception just before stepping out of bounds.

-- There were even more interceptions later on in practice, including a pair from James Smith-Williams and Jamin Davis. Smith-Williams' came after a tipped pass, while Davis made an impressive grab in the end zone when Fitzpatrick was targeting Logan Thomas. The defense had a total of six interceptions on the day, with the final one coming from Torry McTyer. There were also six deflections from the likes of Davis, McTyer, Cole Holcomb and Khaleke Hudson. The offense has made progress lately, but the defense is still capable of having dominant performances.

-- A couple of minor details that are worth pointing out: John Bates and Reyes received reps with the starting offense in certain sets that allowed them to utilize their skills as blockers. Ereck Flowers rotated with Wes Schweitzer as the starting left guard during team drills. Patterson also got reps with the starters and second group after having a strong performance against the Patriots. On defense, Montez Sweat was disruptive once again, as he blew up a run play at the start of practice for a five-yard loss.

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