Rick Leonard joined the Washington Football Team’s practice squad a little more than a month ago, eying a chance to establish roots with the team of his childhood not far from where he grew up in Middletown.
Monday he signed a contract that will extend the opportunity to the 2021 season as the team looks to build on a season that came to an end Saturday night in the wild-card playoffs.
“It’s a privilege to be able to play for my home team of Washington and Head coach Ron Rivera,” the Middletown High alum said in a text message to the News-Post, confirming the new pact. “I’m grateful and excited, ready to get back to work.”
Leonard, a 6-foot-7, 311-pound offensive lineman, hopes his stop in Washington halts what has been a meandering NFL journey that’s taken him to five organizations in just three years since getting drafted in the fourth round by the New Orleans Saints out of Florida State.
Washington was the third team he was a part of in some capacity since the start of the 2020 season, going from Houston to Arizona to the nation’s capital.
As his professional development continues on a team that made the postseason as the NFC East division champion, Leonard insisted last month that he has a good feeling about his future in Washington.
Leonard said he’s come a long way since being a raw 2018 draftee who had only switched to the offensive line less than two years earlier with the Seminoles (he’d been a defensive stalwart at Middletown). If all goes well with Washington in the future, he could accomplish a career first by earning a spot on the team’s 53-man roster and being active on game day for a regular-season contest.
“I really feel like things are coming together,” he said earlier this season. “I’m going to watch it come together here in Washington.”
Leonard is one of three Frederick County players on NFL rosters as the 2020 season comes to a close.
Rob Havenstein (Linganore) is in his sixth year as the Los Angeles Rams’ starting right tackle, and he’ll take the field Saturday against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional round. He helped the Rams defeat Seattle 30-20 last weekend in a wild-card matchup.
Meanwhile, fourth-year cornerback Nate Hairston (Thomas Johnson) ended his season on the Denver Broncos’ active roster, playing in five games for them after spending time with the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens organizations in 2020.