Training camp is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its second season under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.
Dax Milne's name might not have been one that got fans excited at the start of training camp. Aside from being the second-to-last pick in the NFL Draft, he was behind more notable names like Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.
My, how things have changed over the past four weeks.
Milne, one of the most productive wideouts in college football last year, has started to turn some heads, including that of head coach Ron Rivera. He's been a reliable target all offseason, and that has put him in a good spot as he fights for a roster spot.
"He has progressed very well. He really has," Rivera told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "You see his natural route running ability showing in certain situations, circumstances."
It didn't take long for Milne, a former walk-on at BYU, to stand out among his peers. For Rivera, rookie minicamp was the first time he got to see the receiver in person, and he noticed that Milne's 6-foot, 190-pound frame came across as "a lot bigger and stouter" than he anticipated. What impressed him even more was how well Milne moved with that size.
"He is a good route runner with good size. To me, that is a pleasant surprise," Rivera said. "For a guy that plays slot, you usually have a smaller guy. This guy had a little more size and he looked good out there on the football field."
Milne started training camp working with the third group on offense, but lately he has earned his way into the second group and even gets reps with the starting offense. He's matched up against Benjamin St-Juste, another rookie who has stood out in camp, and managed to beat the cornerback in 1-on-1s. During Tuesday's practice, he was working with Taylor Heinicke in goal line drills and caught a touchdown against Troy Apke.
Milne has been a constant in the punt return rotation, which was part of his skillset with the Cougars. And he got to show that off against the Patriots, which resulted in a 19-yard return. He also made two receptions for 16 yards.
"Excited about what Dax Milne did," Rivera said last Friday after the game. "He's a solid young football player. Dax, he's a guy that's caught our attention."
Rivera pointed out that Milne came prepared because he caught a lot of balls for BYU, and he's right. He had 101 catches in college, 70 of which came in 2020, when he recorded 1,188 receiving yards -- the fourth-most in college football -- and eight touchdowns.
On top of that, Milne has listened to his coaches and taken pointers from McLaurin and some of the other more experienced wideouts. That has helped him increase his favor in the coaches' eyes.
"You see him coming out of his own element and starting to create who he is, his own persona," Rivera said.
The reality of Milne's situation is that there are only so many spots for receivers on Washington's roster, even if the team decides to keep seven in the group. With that being said, the best way for Milne to earn a spot on the roster is by making plays. So far, so good for the rookie in that category. And because of that, his coaches want to see more from him.
"I think he's ahead of where you would think a lot of young guys would be at this time," Rivera said. "I'm real pleased of what he's showing us."