The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the team.
It's a dress rehearsal week for the Washington Football Team as it prepares to wrap up the preseason against the Baltimore Ravens. With about a week until final cuts are due, it's the last, best opportunity for players to earn a roster spot.
The next few practices will give players a feel for how the weeks will unfold during the regular season. Washington will have a game plan for the Ravens, unlike the previous two games, and the starters will get a sizable chunk of playing time. But aside from seeing how the team reacts to the changes, Ron Rivera wants everyone to take advantage of their opportunities.
"We have some guys who will play an awful lot," Rivera said. "And we're gonna look for them to be put in situations, and do they capitalize on those things?"
Rivera said every player has a chance to make the roster, so he's in for some tough decisions over the next week. Everyone has something to offer, so making the call on who will be on the team in September will come down to the minor details.
"We'll really get a chance to see if they get it," Rivera said. "We're looking for guys who are gonna take advantage of their opportunities, make plays, make things happen and handle the situation."
Here are some key notes and quotes from Monday's practice.
-- When Rivera referred to players who will get plenty of playing time, there's a good chance he was partly referring to Dax Milne. The seventh-round rookie has caught the coaches' attention for his steady hands and his preparation. He saw work with all three offensive units and had impressive plays regardless of when he was on the field. The best part: it looks like he has the Terry McLaurin seal of approval. Milne beat Troy Apke on an end zone fade, and as he hauled in the catch, McLaurin could be heard screaming, "Good release!" to his teammate. That's about as good a compliment as Milne can receive from the team's best receiver.
-- Apke's miss against Milne was probably the only negative the cornerback had today. In fact, Apke has had a great stretch of practices recently. He more than made up for the touchdown in red zone drills with two interceptions and a pass breakup. His final pick came in two-minute drills, when he grabbed a pass from Taylor Heinicke. Rivera said Apke is starting to understand his situation better, and Kendall Fuller added to that by saying "he's been showing out a lot." The past month has been an adjustment for Apke, as he's switched from safety to corner, but it looks like he's hitting his stride at the right time.
-- Randy Jordan wanted J.D. McKissic to work on turning the intermediate plays he made last season into more splashy moments that result in 40-yard gain. That exact thing happened during team drills; McKissic blew by his defender as Heinicke unloaded a shot down the sideline. McKissic made the easy grab, which would have ended in a touchdown, had he been allowed to keep running. On top of that, the play earned a "Hell yeah!" from Jordan as McKissic jogged back to the huddle.
-- One of the best highlights from Washington's 17-13 win over the Bengals was Landon Collins’ tackle against Thaddeus Moss for just a two-yard gain. For Rivera, plays like that have become a regular occurrence for the veteran who has recovered from a torn Achilles last season. Collins has done a great job from the beginning of camp, Rivera said, and he loves the way the safety is handling his recovery. And more importantly, he's been developing a strong rapport with his teammates.
-- Ereck Flowers has slowly increased his playing time over the past month. For the past two weeks, he's been a more permanent member of the starting offensive line at left guard. Rivera said Flowers is a "big, physical presence" -- for those wondering, he's 6-foot-6 and weighs 330 pounds -- he's "a lot to get by" for defensive tackles. His size hasn't hindered his mobility, either; he's athletic and has a quickness to his playing style. That, along with his impressive arm length, has stood out Rivera lately.