Washington’s offensive struggles in training camp have been documented. While some of those struggles are likely overblown due to the defense knowing what’s coming — and being one of the NFL’s best — there is some cause for concern.
The good news for the Commanders is the two joint practices they have with the Ravens next week. Washington and Baltimore will practice together on Aug. 15 and 16 at the Ravens’ complex before the teams meet for a preseason game at FedEx Field the following Monday.
Head coach Ron Rivera said Sunday those practices could determine the quarterback rotation for the final two preseason games.
“Well, I think what’s going to really impact it more than anything else will be just the thought of knowing we’ve got Baltimore, and we’ve got two days of practice with them,” Rivera said.
“I think that’s something that’s really going to play into our thought process as we get ready to make decisions on how much everybody’s going to play.”
Ron Rivera is excited about the Washington Commanders offensive line and the depth it provides.
“I think the play of offensive line has been solid,” coach Ron Rivera said. “Sure they made some mistakes, but again, they’re learning a whole new system and they’re going to have mistakes and you’re talking about a defense that’s, you know, again, way ahead in terms of just what they do and knowing what to do and how to do things.”
The uncertainty of the team’s starting lineup is giving new opportunities for players like Saahdiq Charles, Chris Paul and Sam Cosmi, who had different roles a year ago for Washington. It also gives opportunity for those like Ricky Stromberg and Braeden Daniels, who had high draft picks used on them in this year’s draft. And then there’s Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates, two free agents who could also make an impact.
“Well, I think with the 16 guys we got right now or 17 guys we have right now, it’s a good group,” Rivera said. “I mean, I think the depth, the young depth is very good. We’re a young football team this year. We really are and we expect those guys to be, you know, in development mode and we’re expecting certain guys that get opportunities to step up and play really well.”
Young and Sweat are extremely close. They spent most of this offseason working out together, and Young brought Sweat with him to Ohio State recently to meet with Young’s former college defensive line coach, Larry Johnson.
What did Sweat pick up during his time with Johnson?
“Just honing in on some of the techniques from Coach Larry Johnson,” Sweat said. “He was actually great. We brought some of the things that we did in Ohio back out here just for pre-practice and stuff like that we do, so yeah, it was great. It was a great experience.”
If Sweat feels any pressure in 2023, he’s not showing it. Through four NFL seasons, Sweat has 29 career sacks. He’s been durable —outside of 2021 when he broke a jaw and missed time due to a family tragedy —playing in every game in three of his four seasons.
The one knock on Sweat from outsiders is he needs more sacks. Washington isn’t disappointed in Sweat, reportedly wanting to lock him into an extension. However, in order to get paid elite money, stats do matter.
“I don’t feel like that’ll necessarily change. It’s who I am, and it’s what got me here,” Rodriguez says, “I feel like I do need to add…one cut stuff.”
“This is a guy that Eric was very high on,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “He’s a guy that Eric thinks will most certainly have a role for us on the offensive side. Adding a physical player in Christopher is a guy that, talking to Eric and what Eric wants to do and how he wants to use him, in Eric’s mind, this is a guy that will fit what he wants. And so we’re pretty excited about being able to pick him. We had a higher grade on him, too as well. So, we thought we got a lot of value here.”
Washington Commanders’ rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes is already making an impact.
The Washington Commanders rookie cornerback has been disruptive throughout training camp with multiple breakups and interceptions before a minor injury to his groin on Friday. Forbes’ play along with his ability to improve mentally and recognize plays quicker has caught the eye of veteran cornerback Kendall Fuller.
“I think he’s just starting to play faster,” Fuller said. “When you first get in there, trying to learn the defense and things like that sometimes you allow your mental process to slow you down. He’s been coming out here mentally starting to pick it up faster, so you see him reacting faster to certain plays and certain routes and things like that. So, he’s definitely improving each and every day.”
Ziggy Hood, who spent a decade as an NFL defensive lineman, including a stint with the Washington football team, may have prevented a school shooting in his role as a high school teacher.
Hood, 36, who teaches biology and is an assistant football coach at Palo Duro High School, spoke to a student whom he thought was struggling mentally and emotionally. According to KAMR, police later became involved and made an arrest after finding a weapon on the school premises.
“After talking with him for a little bit, trying to explain to him, there’s multiple ways of going about this,” Hood said. “And one way was not the way which he had planned.”
Hood communicated through the media to encourage students to reach out to friends and family and adults if feeling overwhelmed “by the pressures of social media and trying to live up to a certain standard.”
It was just a typical day for Palo Duro High School Biology Teacher Ziggy Hood when he noticed a student who was clearly struggling. https://t.co/c9qfVKVSFK— KAMR Local 4 News (@KAMRLocal4News) August 5, 2023
The former Washington Commanders cornerback is transitioning well to the coaching circle.
the three-time Pro Bowler is embarking on a new challenge this summer after taking a coaching gig with the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers spared no expense this offseason to mold an elite-caliber staff under Frank Reich. Hall took on the role of assistant defensive backs coach and looks to assist a talented yet underperforming unit heading into the 2023 campaign.
Hall’s presence is already being felt positively based on the improvements made by C.J. Henderson and Keith Taylor Jr. this offseason. He has also drawn praise from players and coaches for his smooth integration and ability to get information across effectively.
When discussing his shift in approach from a player to coach, Hall stated via the Panthers’ website that it’s taken some adjustment. Especially considering he can only do so much in the grand scheme of things.
“It’s totally different because you can’t go out and physically affect the game; you’ve got to affect it with your work, you got to affect it with the process, your due diligence. Coaching is a partnership between me and that player to try to get the best out of them. And, you know, I want them to make plays more than I think I wanted to make them for myself. I think the passion and the desire to want to put those guys in a position to make plays is probably even bigger than it was for myself.”
- DeAngelo Hall via Panthers.com
Hall’s playing days are long gone and some who’ve reached the pinnacle find it frustrating when the next generation cannot reach that same level. But the Virginia Tech product is preparing more now than he ever did as a player to ensure the group he’s responsible for has no excuses when crossing the white lines.
“I told somebody, I thought I watched a lot of film as a player. But I’m watching a whole hell of a lot as a coach. And it’s almost like, damn, what if I watched this much film when I played? I thought I knew what was going on, and now it’s ten-fold. And part of that is just a commitment to serve those guys, to make sure I’m crossing every T and dotting every I and making sure I’m watching that film with the intent to put those guys in position to make plays.”
- DeAngelo Hall via Panthers.com
This could be the start of a blossoming career for Hall, who has commanded instant respect within the locker room and brings a certain level of credibility having reached the top of his profession. The Panthers are quietly fancied to win the NFC South next season, which will see some eyes cast on their coaching staff with a view to potential promotions elsewhere.
Podcasts & videos
Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Training Camp: Curtis Samuel Added to Injury List | Sam Howell Watch | Defense
The Washington Commanders kicked off Week 3 of camp with another day in full pads. Check out the top photos from Sunday morning.
The Commanders are anxious to play against another team, and it should provide plenty of opportunities for the coaches to evaluate where the roster is at this point in camphttps://t.co/MWTpJx6rIA— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) August 6, 2023
NFC East links
Which veteran is closer to the chopping block than most fans believe?
Standig: Fourth-year lineman Saahdiq Charles might end up the Week 1 starting left guard. Coaches have raved about his potential over the years. The issue, whether because of injuries or slow development, is he’s yet to become a reliable piece. Chris Paul, a 2022 seventh-round selection, is also working with the first-team offense, and undrafted free agent Mason Brooks’ recent play has garnered attention. Factor in the possibility of keeping three centers or four tackles, and Charles feels like a boom (starter) or bust (cut) player.
Carroll: Slot cornerback Darnay Holmes feels like the name to watch as he rotates through the first team and beyond. He’s even taken reps as the third-string corner. But beyond just his play, this is a move that could make financial sense for the Giants as they look to scratch together enough cap space to make it through the season. Cutting or trading Holmes would create $2.7 million in savings.
Football Morning in America
I left Philadelphia after camp thinking Howie Roseman has constructed the deepest team in football. Ironic, really, that the most important depth piece he drafted tore this team apart. I’m exaggerating there, because Jalen Hurts didn’t tear the team apart—the immaturity of the oft-injured Carson Wentz did. Wentz handled the drafting of Hurts in the second round three years ago childishly when it was an excellent team-first move.
And today, on Hurts’ 25th birthday, one thing is clear: The quarterback who took the Eagles within a whisper of winning the Super Bowl six months ago is a long-term keeper with the kind of fire coaches pray they’ll get to coach at least once in their lives.
“What’d you try to improve this offseason in your game?” I asked Hurts the other day.
“I think just the overall development. Every time you go into an offseason, for me at least, I look at guys like MJ (Michael Jordan) and Kobe [Bryant] and how they diagnose their game. Obviously two different sports, but trying to get better at my strengths and then turning my weaknesses into my strengths. I’ve always been a unique player. But embracing the rarity of being a true triple-threat … Throwing, running, and mind. For a long time people said guys like me couldn’t think or couldn’t process.
“Trying to put that to sleep.”
Bleeding Green Nation
Philadelphia is clearly looking for more help in the middle of the defense.
The Philadelphia Eagles are signing free agent veteran linebackers Myles Jack and Zach Cunningham, according to NFL insiders Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport.
Each player reportedly signed a one-year contract worth up to $2.5 million. It’s not currently clear how much of that money is guaranteed.
This news hardly comes as a surprise; the Eagles were looking thin at the linebacker position. Whereas last year the likes of T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White were making plays in training camp, this year’s group has been pretty quiet. The top trio of Nakobe Dean, Nicholas Morrow, and Christian Elliss have failed to really stand out in a positive way this summer.
Why was Jack still a free agent? Here’s some insight from our friends over at Behind The Steel Curtain:
Jack played the majority of the 2022 season injured, dealing with an ongoing groin injury which many thought severely hampered his overall ability to play on the interior. It is possible the Steelers thought this injury wasn’t getting better, and chose to go in a different direction.
Set to count $11.25 million towards the 2023 salary cap, the $8 million in Jack’s salary for the season is what the Steelers will save against the salary cap. The $3.25 million prorated bonus will go under the category of dead money.
Jack has recorded nary an interception nor a forced fumble in each of his last two seasons. According to Pro Football Reference, he allowed a 107.4 passer rating while targeted in 2022 and a 108.3 passer rating while targeted in 2021. Jack also ranked 70th out of 90 linebackers graded by Pro Football Focus (minimum 20% snaps played).
As for Cunningham, he entered the league as the No. 57 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s logged 76 career starts in 82 games played. Cunningham mostly recently played for the Tennessee Titans. Here’s more on his exit from there via our friends over at Music City Miracles:
Cunningham is Tennessee’s fourth notable release of the day after new general manager Ran Carthon also released left tackle Taylor Lewan, wide receiver Robert Woods, and kicker Randy Bullock. Releasing Cunningham creates approximately $8.9 million in cap space while creating a manageable dead cap charge of roughly $4.5 million, per Spotrac. It was an expected move.
Recurring elbow injuries derailed Cunningham’s 2022 campaign. Cunningham finished the year on season-ending IR and did not feature in Tennessee’s AFC South-deciding title showdown versus the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18.
So, like Jack, Cunningham was a cap casualty.
NFL league links
Pro Football Talk
As recently reported by Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal, NFL Network has a current distribution of 51.1 million homes. That’s a steep drop from its all-time high of 72.5 million in October 2013.
Just since the start of last season, the league-owned broadcast channel has lost five million homes.
It’s not specific to NFL Network. More and more people are dumping cable, and more and more people are relying on streaming services.
It explains the recent effort to push audiences to NFL+, the league’s in-house non-linear product. We’ve repeatedly heard that NFL+ has been a significant disappointment for the league; absent live events (like games), it’s hard to persuade people to choose to add NFL+ to an ever-expanding menu of monthly streaming charges.
DC Sports King
The former No. 2 overall pick remains a free agent. He’s had a tumultuous three-year stretch ending with him getting traded by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021 and the Indianapolis Colts in 2022 before getting released in February by the Washington Commanders.
Wentz showed the NFL world he is available, and working to get back, while poking some fun at himself.
He posted several images of him working out while wearing an Eagles helmet, his Commanders practice jersey, and a pair of Colts shorts.
The caption read, “Back in the lab… just looks a little different so far this year #alternateuniforms #trainingcamp2023.”