The Washington Commanders make their preseason debut tomorrow against the Carolina Panthers at 1 pm. There are several players that the coaches, media, and fans alike are interested in seeing when the Commanders step foot on the field tomorrow. All for various reasons; Head Coach Ron Rivera stated yesterday that receiver Curtis Samuel is expected to play, and many are hyperfocused on his presence and impact on the offense and what that might look like. According to Rivera, the team is targeting between 15 to 20 snaps for the starting offense, and Carson Wentz is also expected to play. Defensively many eyes will be on rookie safety Percy Butler and second-year linebacker Jamin Davis. These are some key players of interest, but who are three additional players that people need to obtain more information on?
The rookie may be a bit obvious for most, but not for the reason I’ll outline now. Dotson has been among the more notable players this entire off-season and now during training camp for his maturity and vast toolbox that he has already as a rookie. He understands the coverages he is up against and has stems capable of threatening defenders and manipulating their leverage. Wentz has also been a fan of Dotson, favoring him throughout the off-season and training camp, along with rookie tight end Cole Turner.
Dotson is expected to see sufficient time in week one, and the big lights are on for him. The Commanders will likely present him with several schemed-up opportunities against the Panthers, whether a hand-off, a quick pass, or a shot play. The coaches will call a play for Dotson, and it will be interesting to see how Dotson responds in a game situation versus another team. While one shouldn’t expect an explosive play that goes for a touchdown, will the hype surrounding the rookie in training camp match what the viewers are seeing on game day? I lean yes.
While Mathis’s snaps in the regular season might be limited due to his projected role, I expect Mathis to see a good percentage of snaps this Saturday. Mathis has been quiet for the most part during the training camp period, but the games are where his impact can be most notable. Observing Mathis against professional linemen who are just as strong as him or quicker than him, how does Mathis adjust to the next level against another team, and can he plug the gaps that he will be responsible for on the majority of his reps? We will get an idea tomorrow.
Davis entering his second year, has some ambiguity behind his performance in training camp. Like Mathis, we should know more tomorrow with the reps he’ll see. I expect Davis to play most of the game, if not the entire first half. For Davis, it is not that he cannot play at all, but it is important to understand how far he has come in his development. If Davis is playing fast and consistently around the ball, it may indicate that he is processing quicker than he was at times last season.
What about in the run game?
There’s been a steady concern about his ability to take on blocks from offensive linemen and to maintain his gap integrity. Even though Saturday will not be a full game to evaluate Davis, a few plays to get a slight idea of what we can expect during the season is sufficient for the first preseason game.
Listen to the Hogs Haven Podcast, previewing the game between the Panthers and Commanders. We detail the top players to watch as the Commanders take on the Carolina Panthers this Saturday at 1 pm.