Camp observations, 7/27: First impressions of Carson Wentz plus other notes

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Camp notes, 7/27: First impressions of Carson Wentz originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

ASHBURN — The time for lists and rankings and hypotheticals and all other bluster is (mostly) over, because on Wednesday, the Washington Commanders took the field for their debut training camp practice of 2022.

No, Washington wasn't in pads, but it was still a welcome sight to see the full roster (well, again, mostly) shaking the summer rust off and beginning their prep for preseason action and, after that, Week 1.

So, for the first of many times over the next couple of weeks, allow me to point you to my observations:

  • The top update isn't exactly a pleasant one, as Antonio Gibson was off to the side and a non-participant on Wednesday. Gibson had a minor hamstring issue at minicamp, and afterward, Ron Rivera told reporters that he wanted to take an "abundance of caution" with that and that Gibson will be ramped up shortly. That doesn't sound all that concerning, yet it is interesting that it didn't fully heal during the recent month-plus break.

  • As for someone going the other way in terms of availability, Sammis Reyes was active on Wednesday after missing basically all of OTAs and minicamp. That's fortunate for him, as the tight end room is very packed, even with Logan Thomas on the PUP list. He's probably still on the outside looking in/trending toward a practice squad spot, but at least he's healthy enough to try and change that. John Bates, Cole Turner and Reyes all rotated in with the starters as Thomas continues to rehab from a December torn ACL.

  • Carson Wentz was described by Rivera as a tad "hyper," and to me, that seemed like a fair assessment. He's definitely more willing to attack, which will make coordinator Scott Turner happy, but he was (understandably) out of sync for stretches of the session. He can fling it, but when he's off, the results can be rough. However, this is totally normal at this stage of the schedule and, on the flip side, his successful plays are resounding.

  • Wentz surely appreciated the return of Terry McLaurinwho was present after skipping May and June activities to negotiate his new contract. Though the two did get together in California earlier this month along with other pass catchers, having them find their rhythm in camp will be essential to this offense. So far, so good on that front:

  • For your final Wentz takeaway, he revealed that he treats camp as more like a game than some of his peers under center. There's a section of passers who will let it rip more in July and August since turnovers don't count and they can get away with experimenting. Wentz, for the most part, prefers to do it differently: "I want to be clean, I want to be efficient, I want to be effective," he said.

  • Taylor Heinicke came out in a test-the-defense kinda mood, as the backup signal-caller launched a couple of deep balls in the first 11-on-11 portion. On one, Heinicke was trying to pick out Cam Simsyet the pass fell incomplete thanks to sticky coverage from Darrick Forrest. Forrest, who's entering his second year, is known as a special-teams difference maker, so it was encouraging to witness him produce deep as a traditional safety. The starters back there are set — Curl and Bobby McCain will fill those roles — but behind them, Forrest, Jeremy Reaves and rookie Percy Butler will be competing.

  • Elsewhere in the secondary, Benjamin St-Juste was patrolling the slot with the first-string defense, and on one play, he poked one away from Sims after it looked like Sims had secured a first-down grab. Sims hauled in a dart from Wentz and was about to step out of bounds to finish the sequence, but St-Juste was able to dislodge the ball for a clutch break-up. There are so many Commanders who need to improve off of 2021 and St-Juste is absolutely one of them; the former third-rounder has elite size and impressive awareness that could really boost the cornerback depth.

  • Chase Young was here despite being on PUP. On Tuesday, Rivera explained that of the guys on PUP — Young, Thomas, Chase Roullier and Tyler Larsen — Young is the one who'll likely come off of it last.

  • A new staple of this daily post will be a Curtis Samuel Practice Tracker, where I track how many consecutive practices Samuel has lined up for. Samuel was a full-go Wednesday, which runs his number up to 1. Hopefully, that tally only goes upward, because he would really elevate the offense.

  • Lastly — and this is going to be insufferable bragging — but I freaking PREDICTED who would be the first player to appear on Wednesday. Here's proof of me being a mega-genius with an IQ of 10,000. Talk to you all tomorrow: