Ron Rivera explains why Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson sat out OTAs on Wednesday

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Rivera explains why Samuel, Gibson sat out OTAs on Wednesday originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

ASHBURN, Va. -- Already absent star wide receiver Terry McLaurin due to a contract holdout, the Washington Commanders' offense was missing two more notable contributors when the unit took the field for OTAs on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Curtis Samuel (overall soreness) and running back Antonio Gibson (hamstring) both did not participate in the most recent session. Following practice, head coach Ron Rivera downplayed the severity of both injuries, particularly Samuel's.

"Curtis was a rest day out of an abundance of caution," Rivera said. "He had a real good day on Monday. Worked really hard. He came in the next day and he was a little bit tight. Talking with him and talking with [trainer] Al Bellamy, we decided, hey, let's just be smart."

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For the Commanders, the hope is that by holding Samuel out of practice both on Wednesday and Thursday, he'll be able to return for the team's mandatory minicamp that begins next Tuesday.

"He's had a really good offseason. He's participated, he's been in the middle of everything, so we backed off," Rivera said. "We thought if we backed off these two days and we're really looking forward to seeing him back on the field at minicamp on Tuesday."

It's worth noting that despite being unable to participate in drills, Samuel was still present at practice and in uniform. The 25-year-old did catch some passes from coaches off to the side but nothing that required any running or movement on his part.

Samuel's absence is particularly notable, though, considering the injuries he went through last season. Roughly this time last summer, Samuel suffered a groin injury that kept him out for minicamp and all of training camp. The groin injury lasted into the start of the regular season, too, as Samuel began the 2021 campaign on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

When Samuel did return to the lineup in Week 4, he was on a strict snap count. A hamstring injury would follow in a couple of weeks, one that would linger for the remainder of the season. In all, Samuel -- who signed a three-year, $34.5 million deal with Washington in 2021 -- played in just five games last year, totaling just six receptions for 27 yards and zero touchdowns.

Rivera made it clear that Samuel's current ailment, though, has nothing to do with his injuries from a season ago. Rather, the wideout's soreness is a testament to the overall body of work he's put in throughout Washington's offseason program thus far.

"The soreness is from the work," Rivera said. "He came in -- like I said, he had a really big day on Monday. He came out and just said 'I feel tight, sore,' overall [and] generally. That was just one of the things where we said, look, we've had a real good run with him. Let's just be smart and let's see if we can get him back and ready to go for Tuesday. He's been doing everything he's supposed to."

With Gibson, Rivera said the running back felt a "twinge in the hamstring" during Monday's practice and immediately came over to the sideline. After the training staff checked him out, they advised Rivera to hold the running back out of practice.

Although hamstring injuries can tend to linger, Washington's head coach did not seem too concerned about Gibson's injury overall.

"We're just trying to be smart and not let little things become big things as far as both of those guys are concerned," Rivera said.