Commanders lose to Ravens in preseason finale, 17-15


BALTIMORE — If the Washington Commanders’ remaining preseason sport mattered in any respect — and there’s a case to be made it didn’t — the which means was largely discovered within the small moments that in the end contributed little to the 17-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The highlights: A number of younger defensive position gamers completed the sport wholesome; broad receiver Dyami Brown continued to battle with consistency; and kicker Joey Slye missed a area aim for the primary time with Washington, although he redeemed himself by later nailing a 44-yarder and a 29-yarder.

Long run, one of the notable performances was by rookie quarterback Sam Howell. He flashed a variety of promise — finishing 24 of 35 passes for 280 yards, a landing and no interceptions — and absorbed a variety of contact, together with 5 sacks, eight tackles and 12 quarterback hits.

This season, Howell is unlikely to play a big position in figuring out whether or not the Commanders take a step ahead in Coach Ron Rivera’s vital third 12 months. Taylor Heinicke, who didn’t play, stays entrenched because the backup, and whereas Rivera stated he believes Howell has a shiny future, the younger passer additionally “has some growing to do,” together with in commanding the offense and refining his five-step drop.

Halfway by way of the fourth quarter, Howell led an extended scoring drive that arrange a two-point conversion that might’ve tied the sport. However Howell’s slant to Matt Cole bounced off Cole’s shoulder pad and fell incomplete. Washington completed its tuneup slate 0-3, whereas Baltimore prolonged its report preseason successful streak to 23.

Subsequent, the coaches will grade and focus on the movie. Then Rivera will meet the personnel division, led by Basic Supervisor Martin Mayhew and government vp of soccer and participant personnel Marty Hurney, and so they’ll determine what number of gamers to maintain at every place. On Tuesday, they’ll reduce the roster from 80 to 53. Rivera stated there have been 4 to seven aggressive spots heading into the sport.

“We just felt there was a pretty good battle going on,” he stated.

Earlier than the sport, Washington declared 32 gamers inactive, together with all the offensive starters, many of the defensive starters and some on the bubble battling accidents. The vital defenders who performed — slot nook Benjamin St-Juste, security Darrick Forrest and ends James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill — had been all younger gamers who might use the additional expertise.

Regardless of being dominated out earlier than the sport, linebacker Jamin Davis jumped in as effectively. On the second play, he squared up Ravens energy again Mike Davis in a spot and dropped him for a one-yard loss.

Early on, the offense moved the ball effectively. Howell’s first drive went 12 performs and 61 yards, a large chunk of which got here when Brown elevated on the run for a formidable 26-yard snag.

However for Brown, the sport encapsulated the inconsistency that has outlined his younger profession. He reeled within the massive achieve — after which dropped two straight third-down throws. The primary was a simple slant and the second was a harder go route, although he ought to’ve been at his finest on the latter. Washington made Brown a third-round choose in 2021 largely as a result of he excelled at catching go routes from Howell at North Carolina.

In three preseason video games, Brown caught 6 of 14 targets for 65 yards. Whereas his roster spot because the fourth or fifth receiver appears protected, the shaky efficiency hasn’t impressed confidence that he’ll meaningfully enhance on his rookie 12 months, when he caught 12 of 25 targets for 165 yards. Rivera stated consistency will include reps.

“I’m not overly concerned,” he added.

To finish the opening drive, Slye pushed a 43-yard area aim try broad left. Late final season, the 26-year-old from Virginia Tech led the Commanders out of kicker purgatory as he went 9 for 10 on additional factors and 12 for 12 on area objectives.

However the wide-left miss was his second this preseason. Within the opener towards Carolina, Slye missed an additional level.

“He overkicked the ball,” Rivera stated. “You go back and look at his first kick in every game, he fricking [kills it]. Then he relaxes and he bangs ’em through.”

Rivera stated he instructed Slye: “Just calm down. Stroke it like you’re hitting a golf ball.”

Later within the sport, the coaches’ utilization of depth gamers supplied hints for a way the entrance workplace would possibly form the margins of the roster this week. Within the battle for sixth receiver/punt returner, Dax Milne appeared to have an edge on Alex Erickson. Outdoors linebacker Milo Eifler performed forward of Khaleke Hudson for the second sport in a row. If the group retains a fourth operating again, which appears unlikely, it in all probability received’t be fan favourite Jaret Patterson, who stayed within the sport till its remaining moments.

Late within the second quarter, security Jeremy Reaves, who’s preventing for a remaining spot at defensive again, made one of many performs of the sport. On third down, he acknowledged the formation and knew the Ravens had been about to ship operating again Nate McCrary left.

On the snap, he burst into the backfield, dove low and flipped McCrary into the air. The play symbolized the expansion in Reaves’s sport and a leap in confidence. It encapsulated what the ultimate preseason sport is all about.

In every of the final 4 years, Reaves has been reduce on the ultimate day. The previous undrafted free agent actually believes this 12 months can be completely different. So, within the hours earlier than Washington should make its choice, he has a easy plan.

“Watch Jacksonville tape,” he stated. “That’s the next opponent.”

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