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Logan Thomas injury isn’t as bad as WFT feared, but it’s unclear how long he’ll be out

Washington tight end Logan Thomas suffered a knee injury against the Raiders that may not be as severe as the team initially feared. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Washington Football Team received better injury news than it expected after its win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. Tight end Logan Thomas, who suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter, appears to not have torn his ACL, Coach Ron Rivera said during a video conference call with reporters Monday.

“There is some damage there. It’s not as extensive as we first thought, so we’re sending for a few more tests just to make sure, and we’ll go from there,” Rivera said. “So we’re still waiting on a little bit more of an evaluation, but it is a little more positive than we first anticipated.”

Thomas underwent an MRI exam Monday, which Rivera said showed no tear in the ACL, an injury that typically requires surgery and a lengthy rehab. It’s still possible that Thomas will be sidelined for a bit or even miss the last five games of the regular season, plus any potential playoff run. But Rivera was hesitant to provide more details until the team had more information.

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Rivera also said Washington may get two starting defenders back this week against the Dallas Cowboys, bolstering a group that was especially depleted Sunday in Las Vegas. Defensive end Montez Sweat, who is on injured reserve with a fractured jaw, is eligible to return to practice this week. Once he does, the team will have 21 days to return him to the active roster. And safety/linebacker Landon Collins, who suffered a foot injury against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12 and did not play against the Raiders, could return Wednesday as well.

“Landon came in, got treatment and looked actually very good,” Rivera said. “I know the doctors are going to take another look at him and we’re going to continue to monitor that the next couple of days, but I am anticipating — I got my fingers crossed — that he is cleared for Wednesday’s practice.”

The reinforcements will be helpful for Washington’s defense, especially as it gears up for its closing stretch against NFC East opponents. But losing Thomas would be another blow to the offense.

Thomas was injured when Raiders defensive end Yannick Ngakoue went low on his block and took out his knees. Thomas, who was only in his second game back in action after suffering a hamstring injury earlier in the season, writhed in pain as trainers and the team physician tended to him on the field. He eventually walked off on his own and later was seen limping out of the stadium. But there was concern that the injury was significant.

Ngakoue was not penalized, but the hit created a stir among fans and players on social media.

“I thought the play was avoidable,” Rivera said. “It was unfortunate that the hit occurred and it was low. As a defender, you’d like to see him use his hands upon impact. It’s an unfortunate play, but for the most part as far as I was concerned, I just felt that was something that was avoidable.”

If Thomas does miss time, he will join a lengthy list of Washington starters who are dealing with significant injuries, including quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (partially dislocated hip), defensive end Chase Young (torn ACL), center Chase Roullier (fractured fibula) and linebacker Jon Bostic (pectoral). Washington played Sunday’s game without running back J.D. McKissic, who is in the concussion protocol, and guard/center Wes Schweitzer, who has an ankle injury.

After an impressive first year as a full-time starter at tight end, Thomas, a former quarterback, signed a three-year deal with Washington in July worth roughly $24 million. The expectation was his role in the offense would expand, along with his production. But because of injuries, he has played in only six games this year and has 18 catches for 196 yards and three touchdowns.

Because of injuries at nearly every position, Washington has relied on younger, less experienced players to fill the void. Along the way, those necessary moves have revealed the depth of the roster.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Rivera said. “Our personnel department has done an excellent job for us, and last year we did some good things, and we were able to build upon it this year. That’s been good. Then you got to give credit to the positional coach. I think the coaches have done a really good job in preparation. We’ve had good depth; we have players that we’ve been able to plug in and have them play because they’ve been ready to play.”

Yet Rivera also admitted that he’s concerned about how many more injuries his team can take. Washington is playing its fourth center, Keith Ismael. It signed its fourth kicker, Brian Johnson, last week. And it has rearranged personnel at multiple positions to compensate for injuries.

At 6-6, riding a four-game winning streak and sitting in sixth place in the NFC, Washington has gained control over its playoff chances. But it faces a gantlet in its final five games. After hosting the first-place Cowboys on Sunday, Washington still has road games against all three of its NFC East opponents — Philadelphia, Dallas and the New York Giants — plus a home game against the Eagles.

“What’s going to happen to the Washington Football Team is now in our hands,” Rivera said. “If we go out and play the way we’re capable of, we give ourselves a chance, and that’s where we wanted to be. That’s one of the things we talked about when the schedule first came out: If you can get to this point, you have a chance, you have an opportunity, and now you’ve got to make the best of it.”

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Penalized: The NFL fined Commanders head coach Ron Rivera $100,000 and docked the team two OTA practices in 2023 for excessive hitting during their offseason program this year, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

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