ASHBURN, Va. — Washington is putting Curtis Samuel on short-term injured reserve because of a lingering groin injury, meaning the wide receiver will miss at least the first three games of the season.

Coach Ron Rivera confirmed Samuel’s upcoming absence Friday. Samuel had been listed as “did not practice” on the mandatory injury report each of the previous two days, and it was looking increasingly unlikely he’d play this weekend in the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Samuel missed all of training camp with the groin injury and stint on the NFL’s COVID-19 list. Rivera insisted surgery was “not on the table” and that the team wanted to give Samuel time to get healthy after pushing him too much this week.

“We’re just trying take a little bit of pressure off him in terms of his rehab program,” Rivera said.

Labor Day was Samuel’s first practice since the groin injury happened during offseason workouts. The 30-year-old wideout tried to practice Wednesday but appeared to aggravate the injury during individual work and was held out of team drills.

Washington signed Samuel to a $34.5 million, three-year contract with the hope he’d add a different dynamic to an offense that struggled last season. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick this week said Samuel will “be a big part of what we do” when healthy.

The Chargers are facing their own injury question with running back Austin Ekeler, who is questionable due to a hamstring injury after being a limited participant in Friday’s practice. Coach Brandon Staley said Ekeler tweaked the hamstring during Monday’s practice, which caused him to miss Wednesday and Thursday.

Last season Ekeler injured his hamstring during the first quarter of a Week 5 game against Tampa Bay and proceeded to miss the next six games.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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