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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Bryan Manning

Takeaways from Day 1 of Commanders/Ravens joint practice

The Washington Commanders headed north to Owings Mills, Md., for the first of two days of practices with the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday.

The biggest highlight from Tuesday’s practice was the number of fights. Commanders rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes got into a scuffle with Ravens wide receiver Tylan Wallace and punches were thrown.

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Shortly after, Ravens tight end Mark Andrews picked up Washington cornerback Danny Johnson and tossed him to the ground for no other reason than breaking up a pass intended for Andrews.

Commanders center Nick Gates was also involved in a minor altercation.

In the end, cooler heads prevailed as both coaches talked to their teams and explained to them the point of the practices was for everyone to get better; nothing was personal.

Here are some thoughts and observations from Tuesday’s practice.

Forbes showing fight

Here’s the dust-up between Forbes and Wallace. Wallace apparently took exception to something Forbes did and took a shot at him. How did the rookie respond? By punching him back.

You love to see it. Not the skirmish, but the fight in the rookie corner. So much was made of Forbes’s size in the pre-draft process, yet he continues to prove why it’s a non-issue. His physical stop near the goal line in Friday’s preseason opener was impressive. And on Tuesday, Forbes told everyone he’s not going to be pushed around.

Not sure what to make of Devin Duvernay coming in from behind Forbes with the cheap shot. That’s the kind of stuff that can get someone seriously injured.

More from Forbes

You’ll likely read that Forbes was torched all day by Ravens wide receivers. He was beaten at times, including by Odell Beckham Jr. and fellow rookie Zay Flowers. But Forbes more than held his own. Some of the 1-on-1 stuff with wide receivers is designed to favor the offensive player, but that didn’t deter Forbes. On the above rep, he runs with Beckham to break up the play. Unfortunately, if this were an actual game, he probably gets called for a DPI here for not turning around and looking for the football.

Overall, more good experience for Forbes.

A good day for Sam Howell

How did Sam Howell build off his impressive preseason-opening performances against the Browns? It was a good day for Howell. Here’s this from Nicki Jhabvala and Sam Fortier of The Washington Post.

Quarterback Sam Howell followed a strong preseason debut with a sharp practice full of quick, decisive throws. He might not have thrown a pass more than 15 yards in the air, but as the completions piled up, the tough Ravens pass rush seemed to grow frustrated.

It’s been a long time since Washington has frustrated a good defense. Sure, it’s one practice, but it’s another encouraging sign for the Commanders offense under new coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

Commanders matched the Ravens' physicality

Former Washington linebacker London Fletcher knows a thing or two about intensity. He also knows Baltimore’s reputation. Fletcher was impressed with the Commanders on many fronts, but most importantly, by matching Baltimore’s physical nature.


DE Chase Young was in pads but did not do any team work. Young suffered a stinger in the preseason opener. Washington is taking it easy with Young.

“We’ll see,” Rivera said when asked about Young. “But for the most part, right now, we’re just being smart with it. Again, we’ve gotta continue to go through it. He will come out, and he will do all of the individual, and then we’ll see what the doctors say or how they’re feeling about it.”

TE Logan Thomas missed practice again, but Rivera sounded encouraged about Thomas:

“This is a real good step for him,” Rivera said of Thomas doing work on the side field. “And you know, he’s been running; you guys haven’t seen him, but he’s been running in the ultra G and underwater treadmill. Just taking some of that weight off of it right now.”

At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Commanders just held Thomas out until Week 1.

CB Benjamin St-Juste didn’t participate after tweaking his ankle in Sunday’s practice. Rivera doesn’t seem concerned about St-Juste.

Ricky Stromberg working at guard

Washington Commanders center Ricky Stromberg (53). (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ORG XMIT: OTKEV106

The Commanders drafted Ricky Stromberg to be the future center. However, Nick Gates has that spot occupied for now. Stromberg is obviously making the 53-man roster, Tyler Larsen likely makes it, too. The coaches like and trust the veteran Larsen. He’s done a good job in relief over the years.

So it was important for coaches to see Stromberg play multiple positions as backup offensive linemen must show they can play more than one spot. So Stromberg has been getting work at right guard. This is more of the coaches wanting to get him some work in case he’s needed at guard during the season.

Rivera talked about Stromberg after practice.

“Good,” Rivera said of the early impressions of Stromberg at guard. “I mean, I really like what we’ve seen, especially on tape. I thought there’s some really good positives. I think the thing about it again is the position flex is gonna help us, and it’s gonna pay dividends down the road.”

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