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Daily Slop - 15 Aug 23: Mitchell Tinsley, Kaz Allen and Dax Milne all get into the headlines for good reasons; Commanders ready for joint practices with Baltimore

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Emilee Fails and Joe Noyes/Washington Commanders

Commanders links



‘It’s like playing three games’: Commanders’ joint practices with Ravens key for Howell, fast start

It’s just a joint practice, but it’ll also provide a lot of what the Commanders have needed in the past: more work in the summer that puts them in position to get off to a fast start. And with a young quarterback and new starters at four offensive line positions, practicing against another team will give a better idea of how — and where — the team is progressing.

“Important work,” right tackle Andrew Wylie said.

The Commanders will practice Tuesday and Wednesday with Baltimore at the Ravens’ facility in Owings Mills, Maryland. It’s Washington’s first joint practice since 2018, when the team started 6-3 before multiple quarterback injuries — Alex Smith was hurt in Week 10 — devastated and altered their season.

The preseason games matter, of course, but the joint sessions provide more opportunities to work on specific aspects — third down, red zone, two-minute situations.

“It’s like playing three games,” said center Nick Gates.

Washington tried to schedule a joint session last summer, but it fell through. It couldn’t do one in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic and its lingering effects.

But the time was right for this one, for good reasons.

The Athletic

Commanders rookie roundup: Quan Martin presses, Mitchell Tinsley catching on

“It was awesome,” said undrafted free-agent wide receiver and roster sleeper Mitchell Tinsley. “Knowing that it’s my first game and it’s something I’ve been dreaming about for years. And it was finally here.”

Now, Rodriguez, Tinsley and their teammates are taking lessons learned from that first taste into joint practices at Baltimore on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Commanders host the Ravens at FedExField on Aug. 21.

“I really don’t know what to expect,” Rodriguez said of Washington’s first joint practice since head coach Ron Rivera’s hiring in 2020. “But, it’ll be fine.”

The first touchdown reception Quan Martin allowed would come eventually. The second-round pick had that inevitable box checked with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Cleveland Browns WR David Bell beat the versatile safety and slot corner off the line of scrimmage for inside position and a 7-yard touchdown catch.

All four of the passes sent toward Martin were completed, according to Pro Football Focus. Rivera recognized “how hyped up (Quan) was” by his sped-up performance.

“He played really fast, probably a little too fast at times,” Rivera said. “I thought he did some good things. I saw he was very competitive, maybe overly aggressive a little bit, but he’s a guy I think that’s going to continue to grow and get better for us.”

Washington Post

Commanders takeaways: Sam Howell impresses in preseason win over Browns

When the offense was backed up at its own 5-yard line later in the quarter, Howell threw the ball away on a first and 10 instead of trying to force a play — a mistake Washington’s more veteran quarterbacks made often in recent years.

His finest sequence came in the early second quarter. On a fourth and three from Cleveland’s 39-yard line, Howell moved right to evade pressure, then hit tight end Cole Turner with a 13-yard dart on the right side. He followed with a 26-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jahan Dotson to cap a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive.

“We got man-to-man [coverage],” Dotson explained on the game broadcast. “That’s what we wanted. Two receivers, I had a safety lined up over me and that’s never a good thing for safeties. We took advantage of the matchup, I was able to beat my man and get in the end zone.”

The Athletic

Trotter: For Ron Rivera and Eric Bieniemy, Commanders’ victory brings needed relief

It was a meaningless victory in a meaningless game. That’s the typical response to NFL exhibitions, in which starters spend most or all of their time on the sideline and game-planning is almost nonexistent.

But the description does not apply to the Washington Commanders’ 17-15 win over the Cleveland Browns. The victory — and, more importantly, how it was achieved — was significant in that it allowed the organization a sigh of relief after spending the week fighting off a controversy of its own making.

The regulars played with tempo and efficiency, notably quarterback Sam Howell, who figures to be the key to the season. In just over a quarter, he completed 9 of 12 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions and a 119.1 passer rating. He showed command at the line of scrimmage and poise in the pocket, and he was on point with his decision-making.

“Very encouraged,” Rivera said afterward. “A lot of good things.”

The performance gave the offense breathing room from last week’s controversy. Does Bieniemy push? Is he demanding? Can he be abrasive? Yes, yes and yes. But he is all those things not only because he wants to maximize the potential of each player and the offense in general, but also because he has seen it work.

Bullock’s Film Room

Evaluating Charles Leno and Andrew Wylie’s performance against the Browns

Taking a closer look at how the Commanders starting tackles performed in their preseason opener.

So, how bad is the actual state of Washington’s offensive tackle play? Truthfully, nowhere near as bad as many fans thought it was against the Browns. Let’s start with Charles Leno at left tackle. It is true that he did get beat on the first play of the game.

On that opening play of the game, the Commanders looked to run an RPO (run-pass option) with Sam Howell having the ability to hand the ball off to Brian Robinson or pull the ball and throw it. The run portion of the play is directed to the left side of the line, so Leno has to block as if it’s a run play. The Browns brought in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz this offseason, known for his Wide 9 front where the defensive ends take an extra wide alignment to create the best rushing angles and also to help negate zone runs.

With the defensive end aligned so wide, Leno assumes the defender will charge up the field, so he rushes outside off the snap to try and reach and cut him off. However, the defensive end does a great job anticipating Leno’s movement and after his initial two steps up the field, he sharply cuts back inside. Leno wasn’t expecting the move inside and can’t adjust to cut him off, allowing the defensive end to get by him and make a big run stop.

I’d say the other four lineman played pretty well overall but Wylie really struggled and the vast majority of the pressure Howell faced came because of Wylie. However, a lot of Wylie’s bad reps came as the result of the same issue, which in theory is correctable.

[O]n each play that Wylie gets too far outside and leaves a big gap inside between himself and the right guard. For a pass rusher as accomplished as Za’Darius Smith, this is far too obvious and easy for him to exploit.

However, oversetting is a correctable issue in theory.

Riggo’s Rag

4 Commanders whose jobs are in danger after the 2023 preseason opener

Things aren’t looking good for these Commanders players.

Jaret Patterson - Commanders RB

Plenty of players got touches out of the backfield during the Washington Commanders’ preseason win over the Cleveland Browns. No fewer than eight individuals were credited with rushes throughout the contest, which also included quarterback runs from Sam Howell, Jacoby Brissett, and Jake Fromm.

In terms of the running backs, it was pretty encouraging. Chris Rodriguez Jr. was the standout performer, with projected starter Brian Robinson Jr. averaging almost six yards per carry from his three touches before being replaced.

It wasn’t all a bed of roses, however. Jaret Patterson struggled to get anything going when called upon, which resulted in just 16 rushing yards from six touchdowns for the player in Preseason Week 1.

Again, much will depend on how many running backs the Commanders end up taking through. One suspects the top three to be Robinson, Antonio Gibson, and Rodriguez, so the hopes of Patterson and others are hanging by a thread currently.

Sports Illustrated

Commanders ‘Dynamic’ WR Kazemir Allen Fighting for Roster Spot

Kazemir Allen had return duties for the Washington Commanders in their preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.

Allen, who went undrafted out of UCLA this spring, made one catch in the Commanders’ 17-15 win against the Cleveland Browns in the preseason opener.

If Allen makes the 53-man roster out of training camp, it will be large in part due to his return abilities. Allen returned two kickoffs and two punts in the preseason opener. His versatility and explosiveness have the coaching staff intrigued.

Allen played 36 games across five seasons at UCLA, but saw an increased role in his last two years. He recorded 49 catches for 403 yards and a pair of scores through the air, while rushing for 203 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He also averaged 27 yards per punt return in his last two seasons with the Bruins.

Commanders Wire

WATCH: Commanders WR Dax Milne makes one-handed catch

The Commanders have four wide receivers guaranteed to make the roster: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown. Washington will keep at least six receivers, perhaps seven, meaning there are several players vying for what are likely two spots.

Milne is one of those players. Perhaps one thing in Milne’s favor is his experience as a punt returner. Whoever wins a roster spot will likely double as a returner. Milne didn’t exactly light it up as a punt returner last season, but he remains an option there.

But where Milne really helps his case is at receiver. He can play multiple positions and catches literally everything. During Monday’s practice, Milne came down with a beautiful one-handed along the sideline.

Commanders Wire

Commanders dealing with some injuries on Day 15 of training camp

First, starting cornerback Benjamin St-Juste missed practice. Head coach Ron Rivera told the media after practice that St-Juste tweaked his ankle during Sunday’s practice.

“He’s got a little tweak on his ankle, and obviously, a guy that runs a lot, you don’t want to get out there and exacerbate the injury,” Rivera said. “We just wanted to be smart, see how he is. We slowed him down yesterday. Today, we just kept him out.”

Rivera doesn’t appear concerned with St-Juste’s injury. However, St-Juste injured his ankle in a Week 11 win over the Texans and played only one more game the remainder of the season.

Next, there was right guard Sam Cosmi. Cosmi went down in 11-on-11 drills with a leg injury. Cosmi limped off the field. Fortunately, he was able to return to practice.

After practice, Rivera offered an update.

“He hyperextended it,” Rivera said. “He went back out and finished practice.”

DC Sports King

Commanders O-line coach out after back surgery

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera announced that offensive line coach Travelle Wharton threw his back out and will miss “some time” as he recovers from surgery, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.

Wharton will not be with the team in Baltimore for the joint practices against the Ravens that start Tuesday.

Podcasts & videos

Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Training Camp Day 15 Won by Defense as Sam Howell and Offense Struggle


PHOTOS | Training Camp, Day 15

The Washington Commanders were back on the field in front of fans for a fully-padded practice. Check out the top photos from Monday morning.

Emilee Fails and Joe Noyes/Washington Commanders


NFC East links


Sources: Cowboys holdout Zack Martin agrees to reworked deal

Martin signed a deal that will guarantee him $36 million over the next two seasons, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, up from the $27.5 million he was set to earn in 2023 and ‘24. The reworked deal takes Martin from the eighth highest-paid guard to the third behind Atlanta’s Chris Lindstrom and Indianapolis’ Quenton Nelson, who reset the market at $20.5 and $20 million respectively.

Martin was fined $50,000 for his absence, which cannot be rescinded or waived by the team. But he was willing to sit out for what ESPN’s Adam Schefter called his belief that he was “woefully underpaid relative to the market.”

“I just think I’ve been here a long time. I’ve accomplished some great things but just felt like where I was in the market that it’s something that had been deserved and felt strongly about it,” said Martin, who praised his agent, R.J. Gonser. “Obviously it took a little time, but I’m super grateful to the Joneses. Once we started talking and having that connection we were able to figure something out that worked for both of us.”

At the start of training camp, Jones was resolute that the Cowboys did not need to rework Martin’s contract, adding that they needed the money to sign players like Micah Parsons in the future.

“Someone talked to me and was like, ‘When you step in the ring, you’ve got to be ready for whatever,’” Martin said. “I didn’t ever take it personal. He’s got to say what he’s got to say. I tried to stay quiet during it and never wanted this to be a media back and forth. I think he appreciated that.”

A voidable year was added to Martin’s contract for salary-cap reasons, but he remains signed through 2024.

Bleeding Green Nation

Amazon Prime announces Jason Kelce documentary airing Sept. 12

The Eagles’ veteran center had cameras follow him around last season, and fans will get a deeper look into Jason Kelce with this new documentary.

With Kelce’s podcast, fans have gotten a bit of an insiders look into some of the inner-workings of the team, as well as provided one of the more authentic interviews with Jalen Hurts. But, this new documentary will allow for a deeper look into Kelce himself, and let fans and viewers be a fly on the wall to what was an incredible season for the Eagles.

Big Blue View

Andrew Thomas, Dexter Lawrence named to The Athletic’s 25 Under 25 list

Thomas and Lawrence are two of the best young players in the NFL

The list was voted on by NFL coaches and executives from a pool of players 25 years old (or younger), who had received All-Rookie, All-Pro, or Pro Bowl honors.

12. OT Andrew Thomas, New York Giants, age: 24 (1/22/99)

As a third-year pro, Thomas surrendered just three sacks as the blind-side protector for a much-improved Daniel Jones and also played a role in Saquon Barkley’s resurgence while earning second-team All-Pro honors.

13. DT Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants, age: 25 (11/12/97)

Lawrence thrived in Don “Wink” Martindale’s defense last season, recording 7½ sacks, 68 tackles (seven for a loss) and 28 quarterback hits, all career highs. He has established himself as one of the best young interior linemen in the game.

NFL league links



Source: RB Dalvin Cook to sign 1-year deal with Jets

The Jets have said they’re optimistic about Hall’s availability for Week 1 against the Bills on Sept. 11, but he’s still on the PUP list and time is running out. Saleh professed his faith in backups Zonovan Knight and Michael Carter, but they both averaged only 3.5 yards per rush last season, ranking 58th and 59th among 59 players with at least 80 attempts, respectively. The Jets also have rookie Israel Abanikanda, a fifth-round pick out of Pitt.

Cook is still at least a week away from being able to practice as he recovers from shoulder surgery he underwent in February, a source told Schefter. His arrival to New York also will be delayed as he’s expecting to become a first-time father soon.

Cook is another high-profile player for the Jets, who revamped their traditionally moribund offense by trading for Rodgers, signing wide receivers Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman and changing coordinators.

In Cook they get one of the most prolific runners in the league. Since 2019, he has averaged 111 scrimmage yards per game, second only to the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry (126). Cook has a one-cut style that should fit nicely in the Jets’ outside zone running scheme. The Jets, who haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2015, get a back with four straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Report: Patriots Sign Three-Time Pro Bowl RB Ezekiel Elliott

The Patriots are reportedly pairing the former Cowboys star with Rhamondre Stevenson to form a formidable running back duo.

After lurking around the market for weeks, the Patriots are making a late splash by signing three-time Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, according to multiple reports.

The Patriots reportedly hosted the former Cowboys star on a free-agent visit earlier this summer and are now adding Elliott to a somewhat thin running back room. After releasing free-agent addition James Robinson in the spring, the Patriots entered training camp with five running backs on their 90-man roster, including versatile receiver Ty Montgomery.

Elliott, the former first-rounder was released by Dallas in March with a post-June 1st designation after seven seasons in a cap-saving maneuver following a down year in the 2022 season. Elliott was entering year five of a six-year contract extension he signed in 2019, playing through knee ailments in the last two seasons. With the veteran running back’s explosiveness declining, the Cowboys began relying more on backup Tony Pollard, who was franchise tagged by Dallas this offseason.

Former Seahawks, Ravens RB Alex Collins dead at 28 as result of motorcycle crash

Former NFL running back Alex Collins, who played three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks and two with the Baltimore Ravens, died on Sunday night as the result of a motorcycle crash in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, according to a Broward County (Florida) Sherriff’s Office report.

He was 28.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved Alex Collins this morning,” Collins’ family said in a statement released through the Seahawks. “Alex was cherished by his family and friends as well as supporters from all around the world. All who truly know him can attest to his drive, determination, and larger-than-life personality. We kindly request your thoughts and prayers for our family during this difficult time. We ask for privacy as we navigate through our grief. We will provide updates regarding funeral arrangements as they become available.”