With one juke, Curtis Samuel provides hope for what his 2022 could be

If it were a game, Benjamin St-Juste probably would’ve been tagged with a missed tackle. The reality, though, is that Curtis Samuel decided he didn’t want the play to end and there was nothing St-Juste could do about it.

The highlight came well into Thursday’s practice, the second of training camp for the Washington Commanders. Carson Wentz hit Samuel on a quick stop route, and as the wideout turned up field, St-Juste was preparing to greet him.

Instead of trying to wiggle around the defender, Samuel stuck his foot in the ground to make a cut. However, he didn’t opt for a typical side-to-side juke; to shake St-Juste, Samuel actually lunged backwards, pulling off a step-back as an NBA guard does before launching a three-pointer.

The creative reversal left St-Juste flailing, caused a wide group of players to react with enthusiasm and, most importantly, hinted at what Samuel could do for the club in 2022.

“That showed, in space with the ball, how dynamic he can be,” Ron Rivera said. “That’s what we need, the kind of explosiveness that you’re looking for.”

When asked afterward for his thoughts on the sequence, Samuel declared that it was the first of many such dekes.

 

“You’re going to see a whole lot of that,” Samuel told NBC Sports Washington’s Jordan Giorgio. “I just feel like when I touch the ball, I’m going to make somebody miss.”

And for Terry McLaurin, he was reminded of the Ohio State version of Samuel, whom McLaurin saw up close throughout their careers in Columbus.

“That gave me, definitely, flashbacks of college and seeing what he can do,” McLaurin said. “Most guys catch that ball on a five-yard pass and they may get two or three extra yards, but that move he made on a dime, that gets you 10 to 12 extra yards with his ability.”

One juke in July means very little, if anything — in most cases.

Yet for Samuel, who was hardly able to shed an injury designation, let alone an opponent, in 2021, it was promising.

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Even so, Samuel’s status is so precarious and crucial that it almost seems risky attempting to project any kind of serious production for Week 1 and beyond. McLaurin, for one, was hesitant to get too ahead of himself.

“I’m just going to let him take it a day at a time,” he said.

In his interview with Giorgio, Samuel expressed excitement over simply being a practice participant in back-to-back sessions. That’s how miserable his debut campaign with the franchise was, and the fact that he was in and out of OTAs and minicamp earlier this summer has only re-upped the scrutiny over the health of his groin.

So, because of how little he’s played for the Commanders since signing with Washington in March of 2021, moments like the one versus St-Juste on Thursday are considered noteworthy.

If he can remain available, then they have the possibility of shifting to routine.

“It’s cool for other people to see that, get to feel that,” McLaurin said. “He looks like he has a good spring in his step.”

Hopefully that spring is there in the fall and winter, too.

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