ASHBURN, VA - There is always optimism surrounding the first day of any NFL training camp, regardless of any previous season's success.
The Washington Commanders finished 8-8-1 last year, missed the playoffs, and are not expected to contend for their division title this season. Yet the smiles and good vibes were unmistakable on day one. And the reason was that the Commanders are now under new ownership after Josh Harris officially took over the organization last week.
"It's new beginnings," tight end and former Virginia Tech standout Logan Thomas said. "Any time you have new beginnings there's an excitement. Yeah, we're all super excited."
“If you ask me, the potential is crazy," running back Antonio Gibson said. "I've actually been excited like to see how we put it together, the work we put in, and the outcome when it comes game one. We got a nice core and I'm really excited."
"I think we picked up where we left off in mini-camp and OTAs with the tempo," head coach Ron Rivera added. "We'll see how they are in three or four days when it gets a little bit hotter and practices get a little bit longer."
New principal owner Josh Harris was at practice on Wednesday.
His presence was noticed and his interest was appreciated.
"A lot of times it's not always what somebody can do, or what they can say, but it's just that presence," defensive back and former Virginia Tech standout Kendall Fuller said. "It's definitely fun to have him out here watching us."
"Super excited to have him out here," quarterback Sam Howell said. "Super grateful for him taking over the team. I think it's an awesome deal for us. The fans are excited. There's a lot of momentum for this team."
Harris addressed the entire team Wednesday afternoon and planned to be back at practice Thursday morning when fans are allowed in for the first time. The new optimism surrounding his ownership has translated into an expected 10,000 tickets being handed out for Saturday's practice.