ASHBURN, Va. — Whereas the Washington Commanders are nonetheless making an attempt to determine if quarterback Carson Wentz can bounce again from his back-to-back divorces with the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts, the group ought to really feel fairly assured in its protection by way of two days of training camp. On Thursday, Jack Del Rio’s unit dominated almost each snap in crew drills in opposition to Wentz and the offense.
Washington Commanders’ protection dominates Day 2
Whereas the offense stored issues easy throughout the first spherical of 11-on-11 work with a mixture of brief throws and handoffs, the group’s second set of crew drills set the tone for the remainder of the day, as Washington’s sticky again seven flustered and foiled the offense.
Throughout a 9-on-9 session, Wentz threw six consecutive incompletions. These failures weren’t solely on Wentz, as his targets and the protection shared within the enjoyable (or lack thereof, for the offense not less than).
The primary throw hit the bottom after a wide-open drop by tight finish Cole Turner. On the subsequent play, a suffocating defensive sequence left nobody open and Wentz basically threw to nobody. On the third throw, Wentz tossed a laser to wideout Dyami Brown, however cornerback Kendall Fuller jumped on the ball and batted it within the air as linebacker Cole Holcomb plucked it for the primary choose of observe.
On the fourth play, Wentz tried to attach with Turner close to the sideline, however the ball was off the mark. Linebacker Jamin Davis tried to make a leaping interception however as an alternative settled for a go breakup to verify the goal couldn’t be miraculously hauled in. Then, tight finish Sammis Reyes dropped a positive throw by Wentz, and Fuller locked down Brown on one other goal.
Fuller was the standout of the day on protection, as he was everywhere in the area, and even broke up a display screen go behind the road. Whereas Fuller may not be talked about among the many higher echelon of cornerbacks within the league, he regarded dynamic in observe, seemingly seeing the play earlier than it occurred. Total, the secondary was lights out, displaying a mixture of pace and physicality that largely shut down the offense.
Based mostly on the reviews from Wednesday and the efficiency placed on by Wentz on Thursday, it’s secure to say that the quarterback remains to be looking for his rhythm together with his third crew in as many offseasons. Usually, throughout the early days of camp, the protection is forward of the offense, as a result of the unit is requested to do much less. There are additionally fewer new items on the protection than on the offense.
That stated, Wentz’s accuracy was all over the place. He threw excessive and behind targets and had bother getting the ball out shortly at instances. There have been a number of protection sacks, and whereas the protection performed nicely, it’s truthful to criticize the shortage of effectiveness from the QB and his weapons, who’re perceived to be upgraded with the addition of first-round choose Jahan Dotson (extra on him later).
Nevertheless, there’s clearly loads of time for Wentz to catch up and discover his groove.
In the direction of the top of observe, Wentz settled down a bit and made a pair of very nice performs back-to-back. He hit wideout Dax Milne on an out route for a 15-yard achieve in tight protection. He then got here again and made the offensive play of the day, tossing the ball 30 yards with an easy flick of the wrist to Dotson, who made the contested catch over cornerback Benjamin St-Juste.
Chemistry between Carson Wentz and Jahan Dotson has grown
Professional Soccer Community spoke with Dotson concerning the play following observe.
“Any probability I really feel just like the ball is within the air, I’ve bought to go get it,” Dotson informed PFN. “Carson gave me an opportunity, left in it inbounds, and I used to be capable of go get it and make a play for the offense.”
Whereas Wentz and Dotson weren’t capable of join repeatedly on Day 2, their relationship and chemistry has grown all through the offseason, and Dotson says the veteran QB has mentored him all through the summer time.
“Carson has helped me tremendously,” Dotson stated. “He’s been an excellent chief, somebody I can look as much as within the locker room, and somebody I do know I can go to once I want recommendation. He’s been serving to me tremendously — beginning in OTAs — simply being round him and studying what he likes to do on the sphere, and simply making an attempt to be there when he wants me.”
Fellow wideout Marken Michel, who performed with Wentz in Philadelphia in 2020, feels just like the QB will likely be affect on all the receivers within the Washington locker room.
“Truthfully, I feel he did a helluva job in Philly, main us and ensuring we have been all on the identical web page,” Michel stated. “Particularly, the younger guys and new guys that got here in, he at all times stepped up and understood the playbook and knew precisely what we have been doing, and he does the identical right here. Any time he will get an opportunity to step to the facet and provides anyone a pointer, he does that.”
Commanders’ damage updates
Facilities Chase Roullier and Tyler Larsen, tight finish Logan Thomas and go rusher Chase Younger remained on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list throughout observe. Offensive sort out Cornelius Lucas remained on the non-football damage listing.
Together with these absences, projected beginning proper guard Trai Turner was additionally absent from observe, although the reasoning is unclear. Roullier and Turner will likely be within the beginning lineup each time they return, so the first-team offensive line regarded a bit totally different on Thursday.
Beginning tackles Charles Leno and Sam Cosmi have been joined by beginning left guard Andrew Norwell. The 2 different “beginning” linemen have been Wes Schweitzer at heart and Saahdiq Charles at proper guard.
Following observe, the Commanders activated Roullier from the PUP listing. Roullier suffered a fractured left fibula in Week 8 of final season, and he’s prone to be eased into motion over the subsequent few days and weeks.
As soon as-promising prospect retires at 24
Wideout-turned-tight finish Antonio Gandy-Golden was absent from the observe area on Thursday. Whereas he did have a few good performs on Day 1, he informed Rivera previous to observe that he deliberate to retire and return to high school, Liberty College, following two seasons with the crew.
Gandy-Golden was a media-scout darling coming into the 2020 NFL Draft. He ended up dropping to the fourth spherical of that draft class. Washington chosen him, however he solely ended up taking part in in 10 video games for the franchise, producing 25 complete yards on two touches.
This offseason, the Commanders had moved the 6-foot-4, 223-pound receiver to tight finish in hopes of revitalizing his profession. That transition lasted only one coaching camp observe.
Rivera stated he was shocked by the information however understood the choice.
“He simply felt the time was now,” Rivera stated. “He informed me he was going again to high school to proceed his training, after which go from there. He’s a heck of a younger man, he did a pleasant job for us, actually do recognize who he’s and who he was for us as a soccer participant. And since he’s a shiny younger man, I do consider he has a shiny future forward of him and need him all the perfect as he goes ahead in his life.”
Younger safeties shine in protection
Two different standouts from Thursday’s session have been safeties Jeremy Reaves and Percy Butler.
Reaves made an distinctive play throughout an early portion of crew drills. Wideout Kelvin Harmon slipped previous cornerback DeJuan Neal in protection, and because the ball floated towards the open receiver, Reaves got here from over prime and knocked it down on a bang-bang play.
Butler, a fourth-round choose in April, additionally had a few highlights. He bought scored a go breakup on a deep go from Wentz to wideout Cam Sims. In equity to the offense, Butler was very “grabby” as Sims ran down the sphere. Butler then got here again just a few performs later with a near-interception, as he jumped a route on a throw from backup QB Taylor Heinicke.
- The observe ended after fourth-string QB Cole Kelley threw two interceptions in three performs. First, Kelley was picked off by defensive finish William Bradley-King, who slipped into protection, intercepted the go, and ran it again for a rating. The ultimate of the day was cornerback Channing Stribling, current signing from the USFL, gathering a choose on Kelley. Stribling, who performed for the Philadelphia Stars within the spring league, led the USFL with seven interceptions on the season.
- Wideout Jequez Ezzard was the primary Washington participant on the sphere. Rookie QB Sam Howell was the primary quarterback out of the tunnel for warmups.
- Cornerbacks DeJuan Neal, Josh Drayden, and Christian Holmes all made spectacular go breakups throughout crew drills. Sure, it was that form of day for the protection.
- Wideout Curtis Samuel had a pleasant play the place he caught a brief go then shimmied and shook a defender to interrupt free for a pleasant achieve. Certain, it was a shirts-and-shorts observe with restricted contact, however that was nonetheless a pleasant sight.
- Operating again Reggie Bonnafon fumbled a handoff from Taylor Heinicke.
- Operating again Brian Robinson Jr., a third-round choose, appears fluid regardless of working at a excessive padded stage. At 6-foot-1 and 225 kilos, he’s an even bigger again, however he has a variety of explosiveness in his one-cut fashion.
- The Professional Soccer Community coaching camp tour will proceed on Friday with the Philadelphia Eagles on the NovaCare Complicated.