Way back when Sam Cosmi, the Washington Football Team's second-round pick, was a kid in southern Texas, his mother had kept a dream board that motivated him to achieve his goals. Making it to the NFL was obviously at the top, but right beside it was being voted to the Hall of Fame.
There's still a long way to go before he does the latter, but at least he is learning from the right person in offensive line coach John Matsko.
It should not surprise anyone that Matsko holds his players to a high standard. It's an approach that has led to helping a few players get their busts placed in Canton or at least have successful careers. Cosmi is just getting started on that path, and while it seems like the coaches intend for him to play sooner rather than later, there is no telling exactly how much Cosmi will play this season. For now, Matsko's advice to him is simple: compete and learn as much as he can.
"He just wants me to come in and work hard, be dedicated, put in the time, put in the effort, be all ears and be focused on every little detail that they coach me [on]," Cosmi told senior vice president of media and content Julie Donaldson.
If the coaches intend to ease Cosmi into the professional game, then Washington's two-day rookie minicamp last weekend was an ideal opportunity for it. Where normally there would be dozens of players on the practice field at Inova Sports Performance Center, Cosmi and fellow offensive tackle Rick Leonard were the only offensive linemen on the field because of COVID-19 protocols. So, Cosmi received plenty of one-on-one time with Matsko as they worked to fine-tune his technique.
"It was really good, really productive," Cosmi said after the team's May 14 practice. "A lot of individual work, just working on technique, working on being explosive, working on my punch. Those are things I've been looking forward to working on and getting better throughout the days."
Of course Cosmi wants to play as much as possible, but Washington has a deep group of offensive linemen he'll compete with for the next few months. He will need to stand out if he wants to get playing time, and he has a plan for how to do that. He wants to show off his athletic ability -- he had 36 reps on the bench press and ran a 4.84 40-yard dash at his pro day -- and his explosiveness to let his coaches know what he can bring to the group.
"I think those are two really big things when it comes to widening myself away from the competitors," Cosmi said. "Just constantly working and really putting 100 percent into everything I do."
It's good that Washington has put more of an emphasis on technique to start OTAs, because Cosmi has already noticed more minute details he needs to work on. He wants to improve his punch, which his offensive line Tom Moses said is already like getting hit with bricks, and work on getting his hands on defenders.
"Just watching film on them, they're hard-working guys," Cosmi told Donaldson. "Guys that have a lot of tools under their belts. I gotta bring it every play. I know going against those guys is going to make me better."
It is clear Cosmi has the talent on the field, but off of it, the best way he can stand out is by getting to know his teammates, namely All-Pro right guard Brandon Scherff. Comsi has had his eye on Scherff for some time now, and even though they have only had a few interactions so far, he feels like there is a lot he can learn from the four-time Pro Bowler.
He hasn't forgotten about the quarterbacks he'll be protecting this year, either. He's heard that Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke all like to take care of their offensive lines, and they're good sources for information during games.
"I'm looking forward to having those types of guys where I can have that open communication," Cosmi said.
Head coach Ron Rivera's words on Cosmi were that Washington would "put him out at left tackle and see how he does." But given how excited he is to be in the NFL, it doesn't sound like he cares where the coaches put him as long as he gets to compete.
"This football team is going to get a very dedicated guy," Cosmi said, "a guy that loves the game and one of the most hard working guys on and off the field."