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Notes from Commanders' third OTAs: Collision sets Rivera off originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
ASHBURN — Ron Rivera had everyone's attention. That much is for sure.
About halfway through the Commanders' final open session of OTAs on Wednesday, safety Jeremy Reaves collided hard with wideout Dyami Brown.
Both players were vying for a Carson Wentz pass that was thrown a little bit ahead of Brown, and in doing so, ran into one another, with Reaves responsible for most of the power behind the hit.
As the ball fell incomplete, Brown remained on the ground — and then, Rivera exploded.
In what was his most outward display of anger since assuming control of Washington, Rivera first ripped into Reaves for being overly aggressive and then called a team-wide huddle to demand smarter behavior from everyone. Many, many curse words were loudly used during the coach's near minute-long tirade.
Afterward, Rivera told reporters he was disappointed in Reaves because the defender knows better than to be so reckless in June, and Reaves took the blame for the run-in in a separate meeting with the media. There was nothing especially dirty about it, but it still was wholly unnecessary for June.
Fortunately, Rivera revealed that Brown should be fine and simply has a "sore shoulder" as of now.
Here's a recap of all the other important events from Wednesday's action, beginning with an injury update that wasn't meant to cause alarm but will inevitably cause alarm anyways...
Curtis Samuel made his opposite-of-triumphant return to the side field on Wednesday and didn't participate in any sort of football activities. According to Rivera, Samuel showed up feeling some general soreness stemming from what the coach characterized as a very busy Monday practice. Now, Rivera shared that the soreness isn't specifically related to Samuel's 2021 groin problems, expressing that the Commanders are simply being cautious and also expect Samuel to be good to go for next week's mandatory minicamp, but still, this was a very unwelcome development.
Antonio Gibson was also on the side field Wednesday after pulling his hamstring a bit on Monday. Overall, Rivera had this to say about both Samuel and Gibson's absences: "We're just trying to be smart and not let little things become big things as far as both of those guys are concerned." Chase Roullier, Logan Thomas, Tyler Larsen and Saahdiq Charles were among the other guys who didn't suit up, while Sammis Reyes was missing because...
Terry McLaurin and Daron Payne were both not around at all as each seek a better contract from the franchise. Rivera said he anticipates that those two and everyone else will make an appearance at next week's minicamp "because it's mandatory."
This was the third media-attended workout of the offseason and once again Washington's defense chose to deploy a ton of two-linebacker looks, replacing that third linebacker with either an extra lineman or another corner/safety. Though the NFL is certainly trending toward schemes that are less-reliant on linebackers, what the Commanders have shown thus far has been extreme. Jamin Davis and Cole Holcomb or David Mayo and Holcomb were the combinations of the first-stringers, with Davis only slightly outpacing Mayo. Without more reinforcements at that spot, the unit could be taken advantage of by opposing rushing attacks.
Wentz and Taylor Heinicke were both pretty dialed in on Wednesday, even though Wentz was picked off by Kendall Fuller and Holcomb on two different throws. Wentz's seamless connection with Jahan Dotson stood out just like it has at previous OTAs, while Heinicke and Marken Michel were dicing up the backups together. Michel thrived without McLaurin or Samuel in the lineup. There could be a path for some unknown receiver to sneak onto the bottom of that section of the depth chart, and Michel is doing what he can to make his case:
A little more background on Holcomb's interception: Darrick Forrest was the one who caused it. Forrest saw where Wentz was going well before Wentz reared his arm back and got his fingers on the toss, deflecting it to Holcomb. Forrest is someone that Rivera praised at the podium for taking promising steps following his rookie campaign, and that sequence was a real highlight for him.
For those wondering about Sam Howell, by the way, he hasn't flashed anything too exciting or discouraging in May or June. He did score on a read-option carry on goal-line 11-on-11s Wednesday, which is an area he excelled in at North Carolina. The good part, of course, is he can come along at his own pace thanks to Wentz and Heinicke being so entrenched above him.
Perhaps Wentz's best rep, at least in the eyes of coaches, was one that resulted in only a couple of yards. After dropping back for one attempt, Wentz scanned the deeper portion of the secondary before ultimately side-stepping the pass rush and side-arming a checkdown to a running back. "Nice play 11," Scott Turner said when the whistle was blown, obviously proud of Wentz for not risking a turnover.
When punt returners were sent back to catch blasts from Tress Way, Dotson, Alex Erickson, Kyrie McGowan, Jequez Ezzard and Dax Milne were the five doing so.
Lastly, it was "Family Day" for Commanders players and coaches, as tons of partners, kids and other relatives got to witness the goings-on at the facility. Here's Way's crew greeting the Pro Bowler: