- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 3, 2021

ATLANTA — Logan Thomas seemed to know as soon as it happened. The Washington tight end hobbled off the field in anger, on the team’s very first drive, no less. The following trip to the trainer’s table confirmed what was apparent: He had a hamstring injury. 

Washington pulled out Sunday’s 34-30 victory over the Atlanta Falcons — but not before losing a number of notable players to game-ending injury. In total, five players left the game and did not return: Thomas, All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff (knee), linebacker Jon Bostic (shoulder) and wide receivers Dyami Brown (hamstring) and Cam Sims (hamstring). 

A sixth player — cornerback Torry McTyer — collided with a player in the end zone on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s last-ditch throw to end the game and had to be carted off.

Washington coach Ron Rivera did not provide details about the injured players afterward, but credited his team for carrying on.

“It’s kind of that ‘next man up’ mentality and that’s kind of what has to happen,” Rivera said. 

Of the injuries, the losses of Thomas and Scherff are arguably the most notable. Thomas, in particular, was one of the few position players last season to log more than 1,000 snaps. And heading into Sunday’s contest, Thomas had played 100% of the team’s snaps.

Tight end, too, is a thin position on the Washington roster. Veteran Ricky Seals-Jones replaced Thomas as the team’s pass-catching tight end, though he doesn’t have a strong track record of production in his four previous seasons. And against the Falcons, Seals-Jones finished with two catches for 19 yards on four targets. Behind Seals-Jones, the team has rookies in John Bates and Sammis Reyes, who’s been inactive for all four games this season.

Scherff’s loss is also damaging if the four-time Pro Bowler has to miss additional games. Scherff was hurt in the third quarter on an extra point attempt, clutching his knee as he was evaluated by trainers. Scherff, in a contract year, hasn’t played a full season since 2016, and Washington generally has struggled when he’s not in. 

But on Sunday, Rivera praised the way backup Wes Schweitzer filled in. The offensive line blocked well for quarterback Taylor Heinicke, particularly on the team’s final drive. On the game-winning touchdown, Heinicke had enough time to make it through his fifth progression — hitting running back J.D. McKissic in the flat for a 30-yard score. 

“The offensive line is doing a great job these last four games,” Heinicke said. “I want to keep saying that because they don’t get enough credit.” 

Washington, for the most part, was healthy last season. According to Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost metric, Washington was the sixth-healthiest team in the league. Its most notable injuries were safety Landon Collins (Achilles) and Matt Ioannidis (biceps).

But Sunday’s game was more reminiscent of the last few seasons before 2020 — when Washington regularly was decimated by injuries. 

The Brown and Sims injuries were striking, in part, because the team had just gotten back wideout Curtis Samuel, who made his season debut after missing the first three weeks with a groin injury. Samuel finished with four catches for 19 yards, converting two first downs.

Aside from the game-ending injuries, Washington had a few others banged up. Wideout Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson both briefly exited in the fourth quarter, though both returned. Linebacker Cole Holcomb also went back to the locker room with a trainer, but came back.

“We fought to the end,” Rivera said. 

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