Observations from a very unusual first day of rookie minicamp for Washington

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Notes from an odd first day of rookie camp for Washington originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Know how schools and colleges try to brag about their teacher/professor-to-student ratio? Well, the coach-to-player ratio during the first practice of Washington's rookie minicamp on Friday was very skewed toward the coaches, thanks to an unusual set of circumstances.

Due to a positive COVID-19 test for one of the club's tryout candidates, head coach Ron Rivera chose to be cautious and only allow his squad's 10 draft picks and a handful of others to participate in the Ashburn action. That led to a bit of a strange vibe on the field, as those in white and burgundy jerseys were far outnumbered by staff members (and media, too).

The main consequence of the small turnout was the complete lack of offense vs. defense drills and situations that are typically the norm at such a session. Even so, there were some useful (hopefully) observations to be made, and those can be found below:

  • Originally, the plan was to have Steven Montez, who joined Washington as an undrafted quarterback last year, to serve as the signal caller for this weekend's work. Unfortunately, Montez wasn't eligible due to the amount of service time he accrued in 2020, so passer Jordan Ta'amu was instead present and the one throwing passes on Day 1 of the proceedings. Ta'amu was once the starter for the XFL's St. Louis Battlehawks, where he was backed up by... Taylor Heinicke. Ta'amu probably won't be around much beyond Saturday considering how crowded the current QB depth chart is, but it was still an interesting little twist to a largely quiet event. 

  • Undrafted running back Jaret Patterson is listed as 5-foot-9 on the team-issued roster, but that team-issued roster is really giving him the benefit of the doubt. As you'll see in the tweet at the end of this bullet point, Patterson is strikingly small; his position coach, Randy Jordan, had a few inches on him, and Jordan was only listed at 5-foot-10 during his career. However, a lack of height can actually be an advantage for a running back, and Rivera compared Patterson to Darren Sproles on Friday, which was quite notable.

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  • Receiver Dyami Brown is going to wear No. 2 for Washington, thanks to the league's recently-altered uniform policy. He looks awesome in it. Moving on.

  • While Friday marked every rookie's first-ever professional practice, for tight end Sammis Reyes, it was essentially his first-ever football practice, period. Reyes, who's trying to break into the sport after playing college basketball at Tulane, showed his fluidity as an athlete while running longer routes down the seam and toward the sideline, yet he still (obviously) has plenty of work to do on the quicker change of direction stuff and as an actual pass catcher. He's got an unbelievable attitude and work ethic by the sound of it, though, traits that'll come in handy on what'll be an arduous climb toward truly suiting up on a Sunday: 

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  • The defenders were on the facility's far field like normal, making it difficult to see much of the likes of Jamin Davis, Benjamin St-Juste and Darrick Forrest. Yet afterward, both Davis and St-Juste expressed relief that they finally could simply put on a helmet again after lengthy pre-draft and post-draft processes. Those guys and their fellow comrades have spent months being interviewed and researched and measured and analyzed over and over; getting to get back to their specialty no doubt felt great.

  • The organization, with Rivera leading the way, has placed an emphasis on improving its playing surfaces — and damn were those surfaces in spectacular shape on Friday. They weren't exactly Augusta caliber, but compared to how they once looked, it was a massive difference.

  • Lastly, it was nice to watch Rivera go about his duties without any sort of limitations like the ones he so often battled in 2020. With his cancer in the rearview, he can now focus on coaching this team the way he truly wants to, and that is with a hands-on, intense approach. All his players will be better for it.