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The Washington Football Team will be without multiple starters for its Week 5 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Brandon Scherff, Cam Sims and Dyami Brown were all ruled out Friday afternoon, while Logan Thomas and Jon Bostic were placed on Injured Reserve.
There are two ways to look at the news. Washington has elected not to view itself as being undermanned with a chance of improving to 3-2 on the line. Instead, the team sees it as a chance for other players to step up and take advantage of the extra playing time.
"It's kind of a next man up philosophy around here," said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. "As the week finishes up, we're getting our guys prepared for different roles and different assignments."
With Bostic likely out for the year, according to Rivera, that leaves an opportunity for first-round pick Jamin Davis to fill some of that void. Davis has been used in a limited role; he averages about 36 defensive snaps per game. Plays like his third-down stop against the New York Giants and fourth-down stop against the Buffalo Bills show he has gradually improved each week.
The extra playing time will be good for the rookie's development and the defense as a whole, Del Rio said.
"He's a good player. It kind of heightens the need for him to continue to grow and become the player we know he can be."
The Washington Football Team finishes its week of practice leading up to its Week 5 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Karlee Sell/Washington Football Team)
Other members of Washington's linebacker corps like Khaleke Hudson will likely see more playing time as well. Hudson has mostly been a special teams player in his first two seasons, but in fairness to the former Michigan Wolverine, he had eight tackles in his extended role against the Seattle Seahawks in 2020.
"I thought he played well in the pre-season and it's just a matter of getting an opportunity and this will be an opportunity to see exactly where he is," said head coach Ron Rivera. "I think he's a guy that plays fast and physical, has good quickness, has played pretty much what we consider the Sam position."
On offense, Washington will have to do without the veteran Sims and talented Brown, who had started to become a more active piece for Taylor Heinicke. Fortunately, Washington invested heavily in receivers this offseason by bringing in longtime slot option Adam Humphries and drafting Dax Milne, one of college football's most productive pass-catchers in 2020. DeAndre Carter, a return specialist, came up big for Washington last week with a 21-yard reception during the team's game-winning drive.
And with Thomas gone from the gameplan, Ricky Seals-Jones will need to step into the No. 1 tight end role. The team won't ask him to churn out miraculous plays like his touchdown against the Giants, but they do expect him to be consistent. His coaches believe he has the talent to do it.
"Ricky is a good target and he's a tough guy," said offensive coordinator Scott Turner. "He can run and it isn't too big for him at all, you know, he's played before, and he did an outstanding job on Sunday of stepping in and making plays."
Despite being down some critical starters on Sunday, Washington has confidence with the players at its disposal. It made a concerted effort to build a deeper, more talented roster over the offseason. This weekend offers a chance to prove why that was worth it.