Bryce Love is back, and he’s better, with an eye on carving out a role with WFT (2024)

ASHBURN, Va. — It was Bryce Love Day at the Washington Football Team’s practice facility on Thursday. The day he was set to speak to reporters for the first time since being drafted in April 2019.

The second-year player is 20 months removed from the ACL tear he suffered in his final game at Stanford in December 2018. And after watching him for the first two days of padded training camp, between all of that, there was simply a lot of ground to cover.


But when reporters stepped out for practice, there was no sight of the 2019 fourth-round selection. It was a beautiful day on the field, so the field conditions weren’t the issue, especially since Love had participated in Wednesday’s soggy session. Love looked good the day before and didn’t appear to have any nicks or bruises.

Mr. Love didn’t make his grand entrance until the 12th and final period of Thursday’s extended session. And when we did see him, he was sporting a yellow jersey and lined up as a defensive end. All right didn’t see that coming, but boy, did Love look excited, gearing up to rush the passer. Then he moved positions to play safety, and Love just breezed along the field as he played on the scout team.

Forty-five minutes later, he sat with the biggest smile on his face as he sat down to field questions from reporters. Every question was greeted with a huge grin, details about what the last nearly two years of recovery have been like, and on a few occasions, jokes. When asked about his impressions of head coach Ron Rivera, Love said with a laugh, “For a Cal guy, he’s a pretty cool dude, so I’ll give him that. …We go back and forth about it. It’s hard to talk junk right now because they’ve got the ax, but we go back and forth about it.”

After nearly two years away from the game, one may think there might be some rust for Love discussing these matters, but just like how he’s looked on the field, he handled his first conversation with reporters seamlessly and lightheartedly.

He’s so delighted to be back in this position, and it shows in how he’s been on the field interacting with coaches and teammates. It’s rare not to see a big smile on his face when he’s out at practice. Even though the coaches gave him an off-day, so he has two rest days thanks to no practice on Friday, the 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up is finding any and every way to stay around the game after his prolonged absence.


“I look at it as everyone’s kind of in the same situation,” Love said. “Me, I am a little bit of a step behind in the sense that I didn’t get to play last year, so that’s even more time. But again, I was looking at it through the bright spots and being able to take more time to rehab and more time to getting the playbook and learning different things like that. I looked at it as an opportunity to compete. Coach Ron says all the time, the people who took advantage of that time will already be a step ahead when it comes to these times now. I really wanted to take advantage of that and I’m happy to be where I am.”

Around February, Love said that he started to feel like he was back to his usual self. He had help in reaching that point. Adrian Peterson, who dealt with an ACL tear of his own before winning comeback player of the year the following season, and Chris Thompson, who dealt with a litany of injuries, showed him how to be pro — from handling the recovery process to also how to interact with the media, people around the building and finding success in the league. Thompson and Peterson are well-known for always holding court with reporters, being accountable after tough games and knowing that there can be levity in those interactions.

He also had a front-row seat as he watched quarterback Alex Smith work through his rehab process after his broken leg. Their injuries happened a month apart from one another, and though different in terms of severity, they both worked out together. Love said he caught passes from Smith as they worked through routes and trained to get back on the active roster. Now, they’re both back, and Love echoed some of Smith’s comments from the day before regarding being grateful to be back in a position to go out on Sundays and play.

That positive outlook combined with the additional time he’s had to rehab and learn the playbook has helped Love look as fluid as he had through the first two days. Rivera added that one of the additional benefits that Love has is offensive coordinator Scott Turner using a running scheme similar to what Love had with the Cardinal. And for Love, even though he made the joke about being Pac-12 rivals, he said that he trusted Rivera and had a chance to meet him when the Carolina Panthers brought him in during the pre-draft process.

Since his return, Rivera acknowledged that he has watched him closely, seen how he’s absorbed hits when he’s gone into the hole and up against the defense and how he’s responded to it all. Love, by contrast, never focused too much of his energy on what being tackled would feel like after months away from the game. Still, he has spent time learning how to run the routes in Turner’s offense, catching passes out of the backfield, building up his confidence and regaining his confidence.


“He’s shown some versatility, he really has,” Rivera said. “He’s shown that he can run the ball inside, he can run the ball outside, he can run it from the gun, he can run it from the dot. It’s interesting because knowing his background, having played at Stanford, knowing Stanford uses its own read-and-gap scheme which we do, a lot of things we do fit what he’s grown up in as a college player. So we think we can take some of those elements and incorporate them when he’s in the ballgame. He’s a guy who is going to continue to grow, and if he does and shows us what he’s capable of, he’ll have an opportunity.”

One of the other elements that brought Love comfort and confidence he could have success in this offense was watching his former Stanford teammate Christian McCaffrey go off in the Panthers’ offense that Turner ran. Though some have tried to figure out who will be the McCaffrey in Washington’s personnel, Love hasn’t concerned himself with that thought. He learned quickly backing up McCaffrey that trying to be like him wouldn’t be in his best interest because there’s only one of him.

Right now, Love is solely focused on getting back that magical 2017 season when he gained 2,118 yards, 19 rushing touchdowns and 8.1 yards per play on 263 carries. If he focuses on working back to that version of himself and then improving from there, then he believes he can be another weapon to open up the offense for this team.

“Seeing Christian do those things, it kind of puts you at ease because I know what system he’s coming from, and I came from the same one,” Love said. “So just being able to be versatile. That was one of the things I really focused on. Being able to run routes, catch out the backfield, just gaining confidence and doing all of those things is what I wanted to focus on. I accept the opportunity, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

“I’ve talked to Christian about the system. I watched film on him pretty much every day, and I’ve seen him play every game that he was playing in. At the end of the day, my big thing was realizing that there’s only one Christian. I’m focused on trying to be the best version of myself and go be able to go out there and compete at the highest level. ‘C-Mac’ is amazing, as everybody knows, of course. The things he can do are special. I’m excited to, again, follow up behind his act and hopefully perform at a high level.”

(Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Bryce Love is back, and he’s better, with an eye on carving out a role with WFT (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kareem Mueller DO

Last Updated:

Views: 6120

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kareem Mueller DO

Birthday: 1997-01-04

Address: Apt. 156 12935 Runolfsdottir Mission, Greenfort, MN 74384-6749

Phone: +16704982844747

Job: Corporate Administration Planner

Hobby: Mountain biking, Jewelry making, Stone skipping, Lacemaking, Knife making, Scrapbooking, Letterboxing

Introduction: My name is Kareem Mueller DO, I am a vivacious, super, thoughtful, excited, handsome, beautiful, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.