Curtis Samuel feels like football was 'taken away' from him in 2021

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Samuel feels like football was 'taken away' from him in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

In his first year with Washington, Curtis Samuel registered six catches for 27 yards. For a single game, those stats would be called meager, yet that's what he put up over the course of the entire season.

A groin injury that first popped up in OTAs limited Samuel to just five games with his new team. In talking on Monday, he sounded like a guy who's desperate to increase that number, as well as his other stats, in 2022.

"I'm ready to get out there and play football," Samuel said at a commercial shoot for Easterns Automotive Group. "I feel like I had that taken away from me last year, everything I was dealing with."

Unfortunately, Samuel was a participant in just three out of the six open-to-the-media Commanders offseason practices this past May and June. While Ron Rivera tried to make it very clear that Samuel was held out as a precaution and that the coaching staff saw what they needed to with the playmaker, they were still alarming absences.

Yet one day before the entire club heads to the organization's facility in Virginia for the pre-training camp conditioning test, Samuel was rather bullish on his availability.

"My body feels good," he said. "I'm excited. I feel better than I did last year and that's exciting for me."

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As for the constant questioning about his status, Samuel understands that "it's something that I'll always be asked." Clearly, he and his offense would benefit from it being less of a topic once Week 1 arrives.

In the sessions that Samuel did suit up for in the past couple of months, he was heavily involved on a play-to-play basis. Coordinator Scott Turner deployed him in the backfield as both a runner and pass catcher, while Samuel also did damage on the edge on screens and quicker-developing routes.

In all, it was illustrative of what a ready-to-go Samuel could add to Washington's attack — one that he's been impressed by up to this point.

"We just have so many weapons," he said. "A team doesn't know who's getting the ball, where they're getting hit from. There's just so many things we can do out there on the field that opens up our offense."

A chunk of that group — led by Carson Wentz, Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson — got together recently in California for a minicamp of sorts, and when Samuel wasn't among those photographed at the workouts, there was, naturally, concern over his health. He said Monday that he was conditioning on his own, though, which is why he was not in attendance for the hangout.

As for McLaurin, who was one of the centerpieces of that meetup and is one of the centerpieces for the Commanders period, Samuel was overjoyed for his former college roommate's brand new contract.

"That's like a brother of mine," Samuel said of McLaurin. "I knew since day one. He didn't have to play for me [at Ohio State] to know. I saw him practice."

With Washington's camp officially opening on Wednesday, many will be watching Samuel at practice and then waiting for him to show up again for Thursday, then Friday and so on.

In 2021, he lost football and the trust of those on the outside. For his sake, hopefully 2022 will mark the return of both.