Washington could be getting reinforcements as the team goes for a third straight win Monday night.
Coach Ron Rivera was hopeful Saturday about injured wide receiver Curtis Samuel and tight end Logan Thomas returning against the Seahawks. Neither has appeared in a game since early October.
Thomas’ recovery from a hamstring injury has been more straightforward, and he’s made a linear return. The same can’t be said for Samuel, whose groin injury has hampered his season and caused him to miss all but two games.
“He’s doing a lot of good things. I like the way he’s been working and practicing,” Rivera said Saturday. “Feeling very comfortable and confident with him right now.”
The team’s marquee free-agent acquisition this past offseason, Samuel hasn’t played since Oct. 10 against New Orleans. He played the previous week against Atlanta, catching four passes for 19 yards before aggravated his injury in the second quarter against the Saints.
“I’m feeling good,” Samuel said after practice Saturday. “I’m just happy to be back running around. Being back out there with the guys feels good.”
He said the difference this week that has led him to likely suiting up Monday is being able to put together a full week of practice.
“I was able to put together a good week of practice, being out there every day,” Samuel said. “That’s something I haven’t been able to do in the past. I feel like it’s definitely taken a step in the right direction.”
Samuel, who the team inked to a three-year, $34.5-million deal in March, was signed to bolster the wide receiver corps alongside Terry McLaurin for now-injured quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
How things have changed.
The former Carolina wideout who played for three years under Rivera has the skillset to play both wide and in the slot, be an underneath and deep target, and even has shown the ability to play out of the backfield. Last season, Samuel had a career year, catching 77 passes for 851 yards and three touchdowns as mostly a slot wideout and adding 200 yards and two scores as a rusher.
Prior to 2020, when playing out wide in Scott Turner’s system in Carolina, Samuel’s numbers weren’t as good, but he caught more touchdowns and had higher yards per reception.
“Everything we’ve done, he’s done. That’s why, plugging him back in, it’s not going to be that difficult,” Rivera said. “A lot of things that, you know, some of the other guys have been doing or things that he does, he knows how to do and he knows how to fit into it. So, nothing’s changed.”
Samuel, who sustained the groin injury in late May during OTAs, missed almost all of training camp and was placed on injured reserve before the team’s first game.
“It’s definitely been tough,” Samuel said. “I didn’t imagine for it to go this long. It’s really crazy. It’s frustrating.”
Samuel, who has dealt with hamstring and ankle injuries before in his career, said a groin injury is something he’s never gone through, adding it’s tougher for a shifty player like him to overcome.
“Groin [affects] more cutting, lateral movements. If you watch my game, you know how I play. I do a lot of cutting,” Samuel said. “It depends on what position you play, what type of athlete you are, a groin can affect people differently.”
Rivera said Saturday that Samuel’s snaps will be limited Monday.
“There’s going to be a pitch count and we’re going to stick to the pitch count,” Rivera said.