One of the best running backs in college football during his time with Buffalo, Jaret Patterson is battling for his livelihood with the Washington Commanders.
With Washington’s starters sitting out their preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, the undrafted free agent from 2021 was on center stage. He needed a stellar performance to break camp with Washington and earn a spot on its 53-man roster. That’s exactly what we saw from the 195-pound back.
Patterson, 22, gained 47 yards on 11 attempts while catching four Sam Howell passes for another 45 yards in Washington’s loss to Baltimore. The issue here is the numbers game. Fellow running back Jonathan Williams joined Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic and rookie Brian Robinson in being inactive for the otherwise meaningless game. It sure looks like head coach Ron Rivera has already made his decision about who will break camp with Washington among these running backs.
Whether it’s glass half-full or glass half-empty, Patterson just made Rivera’s decision that much more difficult. Here are a few reasons why.
Washington Commanders will have a hard time stashing Jaret Patterson on the practice squad
If Washington opts to waive Patterson ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline, any of the others 31 teams can pick him up. For a player that has produced at every level of football, it’s hard to imagine Patterson getting through waivers.
As a rookie undrafted free agent last season, Patterson registered 339 total yards at a clip of 4.3 yards per touch. These were nowhere near the numbers we saw him produce at Buffalo.
With that said, Patterson did produce when called on. That included putting up 98 total yards on 17 touches in a Week 17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Washington Commanders roster and Jaret Patterson
Right now, it seems that Robinson will be RB1 heading into Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. A star last season, Antonio Gibson has been pushed to second-team duties and the special teams after struggling with putting the ball on the turf. Meanwhile, McKissic is going to be the third-down back for new quarterback Carson Wentz.
That leaves the battle between Patterson and Williams, the latter of whom has seen limited success after entering the NFL as a fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills back in 2016. Last season with Washington, Williams put up 79 yards on 17 rushes. His best season came back in 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts when the Arkansas product gained 235 rushing yards while averaging 4.8 yards per tote.
It’s our humble opinion that Jaret Patterson offers more upside than Williams for a Commanders team that will be relying a lot on a running back by committee approach. As for his chances of making the roster, things seem very much up in the air right now despite Washington’s surprising decision to sit Williams.