Samuel, who signed a three-year, $34.5 million contract as a free agent this offseason, will be out of action for at least three weeks. The former Carolina Panther began training camp on the physically unable to perform list because of a groin injury and was activated last month, but he recently began missing practice after a flare-up. He also spent time on the COVID-19/reserve list this summer.
Terry McLaurin and slot receiver Adam Humphries are expected to start for Washington. The rest of their wide receiver corps is made up of Cam Sims, rookies Dyami Brown and Dax Milne and return specialist DeAndre Carter. Washington also kept 2020 fourth-round pick Antonio Gandy-Golden on its practice squad.
Brown, a big-play threat, impressed Washington in training camp this summer as a third-round pick. Sims started 10 games last season in Washington. Carter also was used as a replacement for Samuel in practice on designed plays.
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Other WRs stepped up in Samuel's absence this preseason: Samuel played zero preseason snaps for Washington this preseason. The team leaders in snaps played among receivers still on the team’s roster were Dax Milne (94), Dyami Brown (57) and DeAndre Carter (42). Click here to find PFF's NFL premium stats.
Curtis Samuel Career Numbers
|Season||PFF Grade||Targets||Receptions||Avg. Target Depth|
McLaurin, Brown expected to start on outside: With Samuel missing time and veteran Adam Humphries expected to play the slot, Terry McLaurin and the rookie Brown should be Washington’s two starting outside receivers. Brown ranked 13th among all FBS receivers in PFF receiving grade (82.9) in 2020 and was listed as the No. 45 overall player and No. 9 overall receiver on PFF’s 2021 NFL Draft board. Click here to find PFF's NFL player grades.
More work for Washington's top two pass-catchers: Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas will more work in Samuel's absence. This offense will take significantly more shots downfield with Ryan Fitzpatrick than in 2020, and no player benefits more than Washington’s No. 1 wide receiver. McLaurin’s PFF receiving grade (94.7) and passer rating generated (118.8) on 20-plus-yard throws rank seventh-best in the league since 2019. Click here to find PFF's fantasy stats.
Dyami Brown set for expanded role: The rookie from North Carolina was an elite deep threat at the college level. No college football player had more total yards (1,116) or catches (26) on targets of 20-plus yards over the past two seasons. Brown is ready-made to take the top off defenses. Click here to find PFF's 2021 fantasy rankings.
Brown has chance to prove himself: Samuel likely assumes a big role when he returns, but this opens the door for Brown to assert himself as the primary option in 11 personnel groupings. We could see Samuel kick inside and Brown stay outside rather than Adam Humphries in the slot.
Washington still the side for Week 1: Washington should be closer to a -2 favorite against the Chargers, per PFF Greenline. Dynamic playmakers still exist for Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Dyami Brown could easily turn into an upgrade over Samuel. The moneyline looks like the play if it moves any closer to the Chargers. PFF's Betting Futures Tool reveals betting opportunities within season win total and future markets.
Terry McLaurin reception prop: Expect an adjustment to the price of McLaurin's 5.5-reception line by Sunday. At -107, the juice should run quickly onto the over. He is projected for 33 snaps against Michael Davis in this contest, a top-five matchup Sunday. Click here to explore PFF's wide receiver/cornerback matchup chart.