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Training Camp Notebook: First Day In Pads

Terry McLaurin hauls in a pass during training camp. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Terry McLaurin hauls in a pass during training camp. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)

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

The pads were popping throughout Tuesday's practice, and there was a distinctly different energy on the field as the Washington Football Team rolled through drills.

Head coach Ron Rivera could tell the players were "anxious" to get the pads on and experience a little more contact. They really got into it, he said, and there was a different energy on the field.

While it still isn't the most accurate representation of what the players will see on the field, it still offers more useful film for coaches to evaluate. And that doesn't stop at breaking down individual film, either; plays unfold differently when players are allowed to hit each other, so it gives coaches a better idea of what plays they need to continue working on for the rest of camp.

Here are some more observations from today's practice.

-- 1-on-1 drills made a return to practice, and Terry McLaurin looked as efficient as ever working against the defense's top corners. His first grab was against William Jackson III, and that was followed up with another against Kendall Fuller by wrestling the ball away from the sixth-year corner. Fuller took a second after practice to praise McLaurin's growth over the past year, saying that the wideout has "a lot of tricks in his bag." Jackson said Monday the two have fun going against each other and help each other improve.

-- On the other side of the field, while the rest of the team was working through 7-on-7 drills, the offensive and defensive lines were battling in 1-on-1 pass protection. Saahdiq Charles and Wes Martin had some of the more impressive reps; Charles managed to put his man in the ground, while Martin sunk his hips and had solid footwork to lock down a defender. Another small detail worth pointing out: Will Bradley-King was working on the same side as Chase Young during the drill. Bradley-King had mentioned how he watched plenty of film on Young in college, and now he gets to pick Young's brain on the field.

-- Troy Apke has quietly been putting together a solid camp over the past few practices. He's consistently gotten praise from Chris Harris for his ability to recover and knock passes away. That trend continued during red zone drills; it looked like Isaiah Wright, who made a few grabs during 1-on-1s, was going to make another catch in the front corner of the end zone. But then Apke reached out and made a play on the ball, which got some props from Harris and his teammates.

-- Rivera had some positive things to say about Sam Cosmi when asked about the rookie offensive tackle. He's coming along very well, the head coach said, and holding his own against the likes of Young and Montez Sweat. There have been a couple of losses, which is to be expected against some of the best edge rushers in the league, but that actually works in Cosmi's favor because they create coaching points that he can use to fix the smaller details of his game. Young said he's going to keep giving Cosmi everything he has; that's the best way he knows to help Cosmi improve.

-- Washington ended the day with two-minutes drills, as all three quarterbacks took some time under center. Fitzpatrick started things off with two of his first three passes to J.D. McKissic, only for Kam Curl to end the drive with an interception. Fitzpatrick was able to bounce back his mistake, though, as he drove the unit into the red zone. On fourth down, Fitzpatrick scrambled and launched a pass to Logan Thomas, who was covered by Jackson in the end zone. Thomas jumped over Jackson and made the grab, ending the drive and causing the offense to give some cheers.

-- Heinicke was up after Fitzpatrick and had a solid connection with Dyami Brown on a pair of downfield throws. The offense drove the ball down to the 7-yard line, and with the help of an impressive run from Jaret Patterson and back-to-back carries by Antonio Gibson, the offense powered its way to a touchdown. Heinicke held up his arms as Gibson plowed through players to cross the plane, and once the officials at practice ruled it a touchdown, Heinicke gave a shout and a fist pump.

-- Here's a small update on the rest of the tight end group: Fitzpatrick seems to be developing some chemistry with Temarrick Hemingway. Fitzpatrick managed to find him for a decent gain during team drills, but it isn't the first time the two have connected to the offense's benefit. There's still plenty of time for Washington to fill out the rest of the position, but so far, Hemingway has been making his case.

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