This fall, for the first time in 79 career starts, right guard Brandon Scherff will line up on offense without Morgan Moses. The release of Moses two weeks ago anointed Scherff the team’s longest-tenured lineman, and it spotlighted second-round pick Sam Cosmi, who took Moses’s old number (76) and will compete for his old job.
Scherff praised what his friend did for the franchise, including playing through injury even during down years.
“I hope everything works out for him,” Scherff said of Moses, who has visited the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets. “He’s a heck of a player and a heck of a friend to me, too. I love him to death.”
Scherff’s future with Washington is in question, too. He is slated to play on the franchise tag for the second straight season at a salary cap hit of $18 million, and in early April, Coach Ron Rivera said the team hadn’t discussed a new deal with Scherff’s camp since he signed the tag in March. It seems unlikely the two sides will strike a deal before the July 15 deadline, though Scherff said Wednesday he remains hopeful.
“But that’s between my agent and the team, so I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I’m worried about getting better these next couple weeks and getting ready for the season and being in the best shape I possibly can be.”
Now Scherff, 29, finds himself mentoring Cosmi in the same way Moses, Trent Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger once mentored him. Cosmi has mostly played second-team right tackle in camp, and Scherff said he was impressed when the 22-year-old from the University of Texas jumped in to dead lift with him last Thursday.
“I said: ‘Holy [expletive]. Where’d you come from? Jeez Louise!'” Scherff said. “He started laughing. He’s strong.”
During practice Wednesday, Cosmi showed off his speed. He ran a 4.84-second 40-yard dash before the draft, the fastest among all offensive linemen, and it was easy to see how it translated when he sprinted downfield to block rookie safety Darrick Forrest on one running play. The players wear GPS tracking devices, so even with the departure of Moses, Scherff has found another teammate with whom to compete.
“I told him I got to catch up to him,” Scherff said. “My challenge is to beat him every day.”
After Rivera’s news conference concluded Wednesday, he ushered in his backup quarterback with the call of, “Yo, Rocky, your turn!” Quarterback Taylor Heinicke appeared, looking like a boxer with a bandage above his right eye. Heinicke explained that last week, it was hot during practice and Rivera told the players they didn’t have to wear their helmets. On one play, while going half-speed, he caught an elbow from one of the running backs.
“I got seven stitches and a little chipped tooth,” Heinicke said. “Football season started pretty early for me.”
Heinicke didn’t seem to mind. The 28-year-old, who had been out of the NFL until December, said he felt as if this was his first offseason with firm standing in the league. He pointed out he had been headed toward an unwelcome retirement, but his reversal of fortune motivated him, and he gained 15 pounds of “good weight” this offseason.
“I wake up every day and I am stoked to go to work and play some football,” he said. “You’re getting paid handsomely to go play a sport. You can’t beat that.”
Second-year running back Antonio Gibson said the turf toe that forced him to miss two games late last year has lingered this offseason. He said he did not undergo surgery, and that while he rehabbed well enough to make his cuts Wednesday, the toe is something to monitor moving forward.
In practice, running back Peyton Barber appeared shaken up on one play, and toward the end, defensive tackle Daniel Wise was carted off while doctors looked at his right knee.
Defensive captains Chase Young and Jonathan Allen were the only two players absent for the last voluntary offseason practice open to the media. Three players who missed last week — defensive end Montez Sweat, wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. and left tackle Charles Leno Jr. — reported and were full participants.
Young and Allen notified their position coaches before skipping, Rivera said. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said he spoke with Young on Tuesday evening, adding, “He’ll be joining us shortly.”
Washington rolled out a potential Week 1 starting offensive line Wednesday. There were some variations, but the most common first-team combination was, from left tackle to right: Leno, Wes Schweitzer, Chase Roullier, Scherff and Cornelius Lucas. The second team was: Lucas, Ereck Flowers, Tyler Larsen, Wes Martin and Cosmi.
The only missing piece was Saahdiq Charles, who played left tackle in Leno’s absence last week and is expected to compete at left guard. Rivera praised Charles’s performance and said the team held him out of practice for load management while he works back from the surgery to his left knee he underwent in November.