On-field storylines get sidelined on the oddest of Wednesdays for Commanders

On-field storylines sidelined on oddest of days for Commanders originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Many storylines at Wednesday's Commanders' practice were supposed to matter.

A former No. 2 overall pick was making his return to practice, for example. That's enormous. So, too, is the goal of turning a three-game winning streak into a four-game run. Then there's the upcoming weekend meeting with a longtime ex-quarterback who'll be playing at FedEx Field in a different uniform for the first time.

But with one refresh of a Twitter timeline, those topics were pushed — no, shoved — aside. Chase Young's comeback, the chance to get above .500, seeing Kirk Cousins again, those all became irrelevant in an instant, as did every other thought anyone once thought was worth thinking.

That's what happens when the name Dan Snyder and the word "sell" appear in the same sentence.

And yet, those on the Washington beat still had to report on the daily items related to the playing of football while also processing the potential of the franchise they cover and fans care so much about changing hands.

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That dynamic made Wednesday feel very, very strange.

With any other NFL squad, Young donning a jersey and taking part in drills nearly a year after tearing his ACL would be enough for 72 hours of discussion, debate and pure excitement.

For those in Ashburn, VA, however, capturing Young rejoining the defensive line turned into somewhat of an obligation as opposed to a fun exercise. Yeah, here's that past Defensive Rookie of the Year you've all been dying to see suit up. Here he is doing some stuff. Here he is doing some other stuff. OK, you happy?

Another to-do item that's always a must at practice — taking attendance and searching for previously-injured guys, — was also relegated to, essentially, get-it-over-with status. Is Jahan Dotson back from his hamstring issue? Where's Cole Holcomb? And by the way, has anyone spotted any stray billionaires hanging out who aren't usually around?

The bizarre nature of the afternoon carried over into the press conferences and media scrums, where members of the Commanders tried to avoid talking about what the entire area was talking about.

"Well, I don't know what that's all about," Ron Rivera said when the Snyders' situation was brought up. "But I do know we play the Vikings come Sunday and that's kind of where I'm gonna stay as far as that's concerned because that's an ownership and front office question."

"That's been the talk around town for a while now," Taylor Heinicke said in his presser. "At the end of the day, we can't control any of that."

"We all see it on our phones and it’s out there," Terry McLaurin explained at his locker. "We all know things are going on outside of [football] but we try to put our focus elsewhere."

It was Charles Leno Jr., however, who delivered the best quote about the entire set of circumstances.

"There’s noise for every team," the left tackle said.

"More so for us," he tacked on.

On Wednesday, there literally was more noise at the organization's headquarters than there typically is thanks to the presence of what appeared to be a news helicopter circling in the sky.

The chopper was presumably there to gather B-roll footage for Snyder-related TV and web segments — or Kevin O'Connell and Minnesota were seizing the moment to sneakily pick up scouting tidbits ahead their Week 9 trip to Washington's stadium.

Things were even louder on social media, as a chunk of Commanders supporters did their best to withhold their enthusiasm regarding a possible sale while others unleashed their enthusiasm like Heinicke chucking a 50-50 ball to McLaurin. 

One particular user resorted to performing numerology, asserting that Wednesday's date (11/2/22) was tied to the date Washington changed its name (2/2/22) because, if you separate and then add the pair of 1s that represent November, you land on 2, which represents February, and you therefore realize that the two slivers of the calendar are both related and massively important.

Mhm. Pretty standard.

Of course, come Thursday, come Friday and definitely come kickoff, the specter of all this will fade, at least a bit and at least temporarily. Rivera's uneven bunch is firmly in the NFC Wild Card picture, and their tilt with the Vikings will help decipher whether they should truly be taken seriously.

Nevertheless, Snyder considering and maybe one day executing a sale of his beloved operation will inevitably loom behind all conversations about the club, and each subsequent update to the matter will revive the hysteria. Even for a crew that's as well-versed in weirdness as the Commanders, Wednesday will be tough to forget.