The Washington Commanders season is just around the corner with training camp and the preseason drawing to a close. As the franchise makes cuts and other moves, there are still areas of concern on the Commanders roster heading into September.
Injuries have certainly played a part in where this team stands before Week 1. The interior offensive line dealt with multiple absences this summer, a linebacker retired and that only added to questions regarding the depth and talent on the roster. While quarterback is no longer a worry, with three quality options on the depth chart, there are several other positions worth monitoring as we head into the regular season.
Related: Washington Commanders schedule
As Washington wraps up its preseason schedule and holds its final practices of the summer, let’s evaluate three specific concerns on the Commanders roster right now.
Interior offensive line
Ron Rivera has a type. After coaching the Carolina Panthers from 2011-’19, the 60-year-old coach loves scooping up seemingly every player he already knows well. It’s certainly the case on the offensive line with Andrew Norwell (Panthers’ guard 2014-’17) and Trai Turner (Panthers’ lineman 2014-’19) brought in this offseason by Washington.
Unfortunately, Turner and Norwell’s tenures in Carolina also mean they have a lot of tread on the tires. Norwell just recently started position drills after missing time with an undisclosed injury. As for Turner, reporters haven’t seen miuch of him since he suffered a quad injury in July. That’s two starting interior linemen tasked with protecting Carson Wentz – who makes ugly mistakes under pressure – missing time in training camp.
It further highlights what Ben Standig of The Athletic notes. There are questions around the NFL about whether or not Norwell and Turner are headed for a steep decline, accelerated by injuries and their style of play. It’s even more problematic because Wes Schweitzer missed time in training camp and there is no player that can be trusted to start behind this group of injured guards. Washington will keep a close eye on the waiver wire and you can bet Rivera will prioritize any lineman he coached in Carolina.
We’ll start with the good news. Jamin Davis is in great position to have a breakout season, reportedly addressing the mental lapses he dealt with as a rookie and playing with more confidence. If he lives up to his billing as a first-round pick, linebacker won’t be as much of a concern. For right now, though, it’s a position that needs to be monitored.
Washington saw rookie linebacker Tre Walker walk away from football weeks into training camp, delivering an early blow at the position. As training camp draws to a close, Davis and Cole Holcomb are the only two players who the coaching staff can really feel confident in. Nathan Gerry is nothing more than roster filler, Drew White is on injured reserve and there haven’t been any standouts at training camp.
While a 4-2-5 defense does mitigate some of the weakness at linebacker, it won’t take much for all of this to fall apart very quickly. The Commanders had all summer to address it and largely did nothing. We’ll have to see if that changes when all 32 teams make their final wave of cuts, putting some intriguing options on the market for Washington.
Logan Thomas can be an impact player in the Commanders’ offense when he’s healthy. However, the 31-year-old tight end Is recovering from a torn ACL and he might not be quite as explosive on the wrong side of 30 in his first year back from a season-ending injury. Even if he can play immediately in Week 1, there’s another problem.
John Bates is sidelined with a calf injury and his backup Cole Turner (hamstring) is also not cleared by the medical staff. Even with a few weeks remaining before the Week 1 opener, these lower-body injuries can be aggravated. If that happens, the Commanders have essentially nothing behind Thomas outside of undrafted free agent Armani Rogers. This is a position of weakness right now that could get even worse if Thomas doesn’t return to form.