Tulane’s Sammis Reyes, left, battles for a rebound against Cincinnati’s Nysier Brooks in a game on Jan. 1, 2017. Reyes has never played organized football, but now has an NFL contract with Washington. John Minchillo/Associated Press

Marty Hurney, executive vice president of football and player personnel for the Washington Football Team, was at Florida’s pro day two weeks ago when a 25-year-old prospect who had never played organized football caught his attention. Sammis Reyes, a former college basketball player, was hard to miss. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Tulane forward ran a 4.65 40-yard dash, posted a 40-inch vertical and looked like an elite athlete at the tight end position.

Afterward, Reyes’s agent, Tabetha Plummer, sent out a chart comparing Reyes’s measurables to more than 20 other NFL draft-eligible tight ends. Reyes wasn’t eligible for the draft and planned to enter the NFL’s International Players Pathway Program, a league initiative placing international athletes with teams to train for a season. But Hurney saw something in Reyes, and on Tuesday morning, Washington opted to sign him outright instead.

“Mr. Hurney saw the numbers, but the one thing that he also expressed was that he saw process,” said Plummer. She praised Reyes’s workout regimen and remembered how he filled notebooks last year as he studied tight ends while preparing to switch sports. “(Hurney) indicated that he’s been doing for this years, and there was something that he saw (in Reyes). I’m glad he did.”

This was a somewhat remarkable turn of events for Reyes. He moved from Chile to South Florida when he was 14 and had a singular focus on basketball. In 2014, as Hawaii recruited the power forward, Reyes told WarriorInsider.com: “The football coaches at my (prep) school have been asking me (to play) every year, but I love basketball too much.”

Now, he’s a member of the Washington Football Team. If he were to appear in an NFL game, he would be the first Chilean-born player to do so.

Reyes hopes he can follow in the footsteps of other college basketball players who became tight ends, such as Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. This is the second year in a row the team has added a developmental tight end for position coach Pete Hoener, though Reyes is significantly less experienced than even former quarterback Logan Thomas was when he signed last spring. Thomas had a breakout season last year with 72 catches, 670 yards and six touchdowns.

The team is likely not done addressing the position. Reyes is just the third tight end on the roster behind Thomas and Marcus Baugh, who yo-yo’d between the active roster and practice squad last season. The team also has Temarrick Hemingway on the reserve/injured list and Dylan Cantrell and Tyrone Swoopes on futures contracts.

BILLS: Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz announced Tuesday that the plan is for Buffalo Bills games to have a full return to in-person attendance for the 2021 season, but there’s a catch.

Poloncarz said that he’s spoken to the Bills and he believes they’ll support the county’s initiative to allow 100% attendance to games for fans who have been fully vaccinated.

“Our goal is to have a 100% full house for the Bills and the Sabres, starting in the fall,” Poloncarz said, who also went on to say that people have the right to not get vaccinated but they don’t have the right to attend Bills games if it puts other fans at risk. “There is no God-given right to attend a football game.”

Fans would have to show that they’ve been vaccinated by downloading the Excelsior App, which would have their vaccination information.

WORKOUTS: Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks players announced they are shunning in-person voluntary offseason workouts because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Players on other teams were expected to follow suit.

NFL teams can start holding offseason programs next week. But NFL Players Association President J.C. Tretter has been advocating for a repeat of last year’s offseason when the global COVID-19 outbreak forced teams to do everything online until training camps opened in August.

Except for one minicamp, the offseason programs are voluntary, although most players participate in them and many players have contractual incentives to do so.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted, “We find ourselves still in the midst of a pandemic with no comprehensive plan to keep players as safe as possible, yet teams are pressuring players to attend voluntary workouts.

“The union has advised players that given the continued risk of exposure and the goal of a full 2021 NFL season, that they should not attend these voluntary workouts,” Smith added. “It is every player’s decision, but our advice is to continue to use an abundance of caution given the current environment.”

The NFL played its full schedule last season despite having to do some juggling of the schedule because of COVID-19 outbreaks. Players were tested daily, were under a mask mandate and for the last half of the season only met virtually outside of practice.

A statement posted Tuesday on the NFLPA Twitter account on behalf of the Broncos, said Denver players had decided not to participate in in-person workouts this spring in part because of inadequate “protocols in place in order for us players to return safely.”

BUCCANEERS: Running back Giovani Bernard has agreed to a one-year contract with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

Bernard was released this month after spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted him in the second round in 2013. In addition to rushing for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns, the 29-year-old has 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 TDs.

CARDINALS: The Arizona Cardinals signed running back James Conner to a one-year contract.

The 25-year-old Conner played his first four seasons in Pittsburgh and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2018. He ran for a career-high 973 yards and 12 touchdowns that year.


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