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Commanders’ offense looks sharp with Curtis Samuel back at practice

Notes from training camp

Receiver Curtis Samuel participated in team drill at Commanders practice on Aug. 3 after missing several days. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

On Wednesday, the Washington Commanders’ offense continued to catch up to the pace the defense set early in training camp. Quarterback Carson Wentz recorded his second consecutive day without an interception, one of numerous positives in a practice Coach Ron Rivera called a “good day for both sides of the ball.”

“We really haven’t had a day where I’ll get into the team meeting and tell the guys I was truly disappointed,” Rivera said. “So, to me, that’s important.”

Rivera emphasized the importance of not repeating mistakes, a sentiment cornerback Kendall Fuller stressed last week and again Wednesday when asked about the defense’s potential. Pointing to conversations among players about taking pride in not making mistakes twice, Fuller said he thinks the unit can be as good as it wants to be.

“That’s up to how hard we work, how hard we make each day count when we’re out here,” Fuller said. “That’s something that we’re working towards every day.”

Another positive sight Wednesday: Wide receiver Curtis Samuel lined up alongside Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson and participated in team drills for the first time this week as he progresses through an ongoing plan to ensure his health for the regular season. The sight of the trio on the field together is a heartening sign for the position, especially because second-year wide receiver Dyami Brown sat out practice.

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Rivera doled out high praise for Dotson, the first-round draft pick from Penn State, complimenting the awareness he demonstrated on a handful of impressive completions from Wentz during 11-on-11 play.

“He understands the importance of [the] depth of your route … where to put yourself to present that target, finding those windows of opportunity,” Rivera said. “He’s been a really good target for our quarterbacks.”

Injury updates

Rivera confirmed that rookie linebacker Drew White, who was carted off the field Tuesday, suffered a torn ACL.

Also not participating in Wednesday’s practice were Brown, guard Trai Turner (quadriceps), defensive end James Smith-Williams (hip), tight end John Bates (calf), safety Troy Apke and defensive tackle Daron Payne (vet day).

Brown didn’t participate in individual or team drills, instead spending much of the practice on the side field and exercise bike. Though he didn’t expand on any specifics, Brown said his injury isn’t serious.

The wide receiver was in good spirits during practice, at one point joining a cheerful game of hot potato with position coach Drew Terrell and the other wideouts. (Brown won the first rep of the game; McLaurin was victorious in the second.)

Meanwhile, starting center Chase Roullier participated in individual drills but sat out of team drills as he continues to ramp back up from ankle surgery.

Samuel was a full participant, receiving significant targets in 11-on-11.

“Our ideal plan for him is just to continue with that, get him ready to play the regular season,” Rivera said. He later said Samuel is not constrained by a snap count, adding that “it’s about getting as much of the peak performance” as possible.

Could Washington add a linebacker?

For most of the offseason, Rivera said he resisted signing a veteran linebacker because he wanted to give more snaps to three young linebackers, presumably White, Tre Walker and Bryce Notree. (Ferrod Gardner, who was signed as a linebacker, is now used as a safety and big nickel.)

But with White out for the year and linebacker still looking like a need, Washington could look to add one in the near future. Linebackers available include A.J. Klein and Reggie Ragland.

Mills will travel to Hall of Fame induction

Washington defensive line coach Sam Mills III will travel to Canton, Ohio, after practice Thursday in advance of his father’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A member of the 2022 class, Sam Mills played 12 years as a linebacker in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Following his playing career, he coached with the Panthers. After he was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, he gave an emotional speech to the team that inspired Carolina’s “Keep Pounding” mantra. He continued to coach through that season, when Carolina lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, and the next before his death in 2005.

I’m extremely proud,” Sam Mills III said of his father’s enshrinement. “I’m happy he’s getting his just due because I understand what the game meant to him and what he tried to give to the game.”

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