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Training Camp Notebook: Sam Cosmi's Blessings

Sam Cosmi prepares to run a play during Washington's minicamp. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Sam Cosmi prepares to run a play during Washington's minicamp. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)

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

Some would consider going against Chase Young and Montez Sweat a tough out. To Sam Cosmi, he sees it as a blessing.

"I've definitely seen progression in my own skill and development as camp has progressed," Cosmi said. "I'm really happy where I'm going."

Head coach Ron Rivera is pleased with where the rookie is headed, too. The former Texas Longhorn has caught his attention, as he's been working with the starting offense since camp began. The fact that he's matching up against Young and Sweat has helped him grow a lot, according to the head coach, and has improved in pass protection while in pads.

When asked if Cosmi has a chance to be a starter, Rivera simply answered, "yes."

"But he's got to continue to work and continue to...have the success that he's having."

Here are some more observations from Wednesday's practice.

-- Cole Holcomb, who has been looking "excellent," according to Rivera, showed once again why he is still one of the best run defenders on the team. The offense ran a stretch run to the right, and it looked like Peyton Barber was going to follow a blocker and turn upfield. That was before Holcomb got there, though, stuffing the open gap and forcing Barber to bounce to the outside even further. At best, the play resulted in a one-yard gain. Holcomb has been one of Washington's top tacklers, grabbing 177 tackles since 2019. But it's plays like the one made today that show why he's a valuable member of the defense.

-- The battles between Dyami Brown and Benjamin St-Juste have been fun to watch over the past two weeks. The pair of third-round picks were matched against each other on several plays, and their specific skills -- St-Juste's physicality and Brown's explosiveness -- were on display. Their first reps came during 1-on-1s in individual drills; Brown got the better of the Minnesota cornerback on an out route and got open just enough to make the reception. The next came during 9-on-9 drills, when St-Juste batted the ball away while in press coverage.

-- Speaking of Brown, the rookie had another chance to flash his skills as a deep threat. He managed to beat Holcomb and Jeremy Reaves while getting some reps with the starting offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick saw Brown get open and let loose a 40-yard bomb, which Brown then caught over a defender. It isn't the first time Brown has made such a reception in practice, and with the first preseason game against the Patriots coming next week, there could be more deep targets coming soon.

-- Over the past two days, officials have been making calls during 1-on-1s and team drills, which Rivera said has helped the defensive backs learn how much contact they give to pass-catchers. They're getting a feel for how "handsy" they are, Rivera said, and the head coach has already seen the secondary adjust their playing styles. They've been talking on the sidelines about how to get a feel for the officials' interpretations, which hopefully will carry over to games.

-- Steven Sims had a strong practice today with three catches during team drills. The first was undoubtedly the best, as he hauled in the pass in the middle of the field and made a move on Cole Luke, which allowed him to scamper uncontested to the end zone. Sims admitted after practice that last season was not his best. He caught 73% of his targets for 265 yards, but he only had one touchdown as opposed to four during his rookie season. Now that he's heading into his third season and feeling healthy, he wants to prove he deserves to remain on the roster.

-- James Smith-Williams, a seventh-round pick last year, has impressed his coaches throughout camp and got some reps with the starting defense today. It seems like that's part of the plan for Rivera, who said Smith-Williams is going to be part of the rotation at defensive end. Rivera wants to have a third edge rusher to keep rushers fresh. Ryan Kerrigan was that player last year, and the head coach said Smith-Williams has "got some big shoes to fill." Obviously he's not comparing the second-year player to one of the best in franchise history, but Rivera's confidence in Smith-Williams shows how far he's come.

-- A couple smaller, but still notable notes at the end of practice. Jared Norris -- who joined Washington last year after three seasons with Rivera in Carolina -- ended practice with an interception on a pass from Steven Montez and sprinted down the sideline. As Rivera was addressing the media, Fitzpatrick and Adam Humphries were working together on a particular pass pattern. The duo has already connected a lot in practice, but it looks like they're continuing to get a firmer grasp on the offense together.

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