Washington Football Team has big plans for ‘ascending’ Curtis Samuel

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ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Soccer Crew coaches already knew the participant, having coached extensive receiver Curtis Samuel for 3 years with the Carolina Panthers.

They knew he was versatile, having switched him from operating again to receiver. Simply in case, Samuel reminded them what he may do in a December 20-13 win for the Carolina Panthers, burning the Washington protection from a number of spots. It served as a mannequin for what Washington hopes to see from Samuel each recreation this season.

In that recreation, Samuel ran the ball seven instances for 52 yards, together with a 45-yard run. He caught 4 passes out of the slot for 84 yards and one other out of the backfield for 22 extra. Samuel completed with 158 whole yards.

That versatility explains why Washington signed him in NFL free company.

“When the ball is in his arms, the manufacturing is large,” stated Washington coach Ron Rivera, who was Carolina’s coach when the Panthers drafted Samuel in 2017. “The factor we acquired to do is be certain that now we have him on the sector and ensure that he will get the chance to the touch the ball. The analytics present that it is a man that must be a giant a part of your offense.”

Not that Samuel is concentrated on what the analytics present. He goes by actions.

“I am fairly positive if I am getting the ball the analytics are saying one thing,” Samuel stated. “I simply should preserve making issues occur.”

Washington needed so as to add velocity this offseason, which Samuel gives. Rivera’s workers additionally needed somebody who may perform a little of every little thing. Washington plans to make use of him within the slot, outdoors and within the backfield. Below coach Matt Rhule in 2020, Carolina expanded on Samuel’s function, whether or not attributable to his personal development, a brand new workers or the lack of operating again Christian McCaffrey to harm. The underside line: Samuel was used throughout. Nevertheless, Rhule’s workers preferred utilizing him extra out of the slot and at operating again in comparison with his utilization below Rivera.

After catching 11 passes out of the slot on 25 targets in 2019 below Rivera, Samuel had 45 catches on 56 such targets this previous season. When aligned extensive, Samuel caught 41 passes (4 had been touchdowns) in 2019 in comparison with 14 and two this previous season. From the backfield, he caught one go in 2019; he grabbed eight final season. And, lastly, after he carried the ball 19 instances for 130 yards in 2019, these numbers jumped to 41 runs for 200 yards.

“Curtis has been, and is, an ascending participant,” Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner stated. “They handed him the ball a bit extra and that is one thing he can do, not simply be a large receiver, however be used as a operating again. He can play everywhere in the subject, whether or not it is outdoors, inside, within the backfield, in movement. These are going to be the issues he does … which is every little thing.”

However Turner additionally is aware of what he wish to see extra of in 2021. In 2019, Turner’s most up-to-date season teaching Samuel, he was focused 27 instances on throws of 20 air yards or extra in comparison with 12 final season, based on ESPN Stats & Info analysis. Nevertheless, Samuel caught 4 such passes two years in the past and 9 in 2020.

“The place he can develop in his recreation is … down the sector he could make numerous performs,” Turner stated. “He’ll make numerous performs outdoors as nicely.”

That, in flip, would assist his former Ohio State roommate, extensive receiver Terry McLaurin. Washington likes that each can run routes inside or outdoors. Samuel can be used on jet sweeps, whether or not simply stepping into movement or getting the ball.

Rivera stated the coaches hope this versatility can confuse defenses, or at the very least make it more durable to decipher what may occur based mostly on personnel. Rivera stated if Samuel aligned solely outdoors, a protection may extra simply account for him. However, within the slot, there’s extra to fret about.

“Is the nickel [cornerback] able to masking extra if he is within the slot or is {that a} linebacker over him,” Rivera stated, anticipating what a protection can be pondering. “Now he motions throughout the formations. Now now we have to be prepared for a jet sweep or be prepared for some type of pulling, lure, or serving to inside as a result of Curtis has the power to run inside as nicely. There are numerous variables that come into attempting to scout a multipositional participant like Curtis Samuel.”

Rivera’s workers transformed Samuel from a operating again in school to a large receiver in 2017. His receptions have elevated each season — from 15 as a rookie to 77 a yr in the past. Samuel stated he has matured as a participant; others have observed. Washington quarterback Kyle Allen, a teammate of Samuel’s for 2 years in Carolina, stated he is a extra polished receiver.

“Our first yr [together], he was extra of a gadget man,” Allen stated. “[Now] he is extra assured in route operating and extra assured catching the ball.”

And he is not frightened about what number of touches he will get or the place they arrive from.

“My mindset is each time I contact the ball, make issues occur for the crew,” Samuel stated. “The extra performs you make, the extra probabilities the coach gives you the ball.”

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