Commanders’ preseason opener: Glimpses of modifications on protection, rookie RB

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The Washington Commanders misplaced, 23-21, to the Carolina Panthers within the preseason opener, however upon nearer inspection, the sport revealed a number of notable developments, together with an rising plan on protection, what a wholesome Curtis Samuel may do for the offense and one massive change by offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Listed here are 5 takeaways from the sport:

Scott Turner: New spot, related scheme

Regardless of having a brand new quarterback, many elements of offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s scheme seemed acquainted. In three collection with the primary staff, he used excessive charges of play motion and pre-snap movement to create simple throws. Final season, Washington was among the many NFL leaders in each classes.

Maybe the largest distinction for Turner was location. For the primary two years as coordinator, he referred to as performs from the sales space. On Saturday, he referred to as them from the sideline. After the sport, on his approach out of the locker room, Turner defined he made the swap “just for communication.”

Coach Ron Rivera complimented Turner and quarterback Carson Wentz for locating a very good rhythm.

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“You can almost see Carson anticipating . . . the call, step right into the huddle and really just take command of it, spit it out and then get to the line,” Rivera stated. “You know, we weren’t close to delay of games, we weren’t running out of play clock time, and that told me that we had a really good day.”

Defensive personnel coming into focus

Regardless of two key gamers sitting with accidents — cornerback Benjamin St-Juste (hamstring) and defensive finish Chase Younger (ACL) — the three collection for the first-team protection hinted at how coaches plan to fill the 2 positions with out locked-in starters.

Within the slot, Washington used nook Danny Johnson at nickel, although when St-Juste is wholesome, he in all probability will begin over Johnson. Within the massive nickel subpackage, Kam Curl slid from security to fit, and second-year security Darrick Forrest changed him. Forrest appears to have the sting on rookie security Percy Butler for the function.

“The one thing about Darrick that you like is that he is a high-impact guy,” Rivera stated. “He runs around. He runs into things. He is physical by nature, and he’s got tremendous athleticism.”

The top who changed Younger reverse Montez Sweat was James Smith-Williams. The staff seems to love Efe Obada and Casey Toohill because the second set of ends.

A glimpse of wholesome Curtis Samuel

In his first preseason sport, extensive receiver Curtis Samuel had two catches for 14 yards — about half of your complete output from his injury-plagued final season (six catches, 27 yards). However numbers belie Samuel’s influence. Turner appeared to make use of him in movement greater than some other receiver, maybe making an attempt to drive the protection to account for Samuel’s versatility and explosiveness.

If Samuel can stay wholesome — Rivera stated the staff continues to comply with the plan to get him again in form — he may develop into the elusive, yards-after-catch weapon the offense lacked final 12 months. Turner hinted at it by calling a display screen to him on the second play of the sport.

“I’ve seen it in camp,” Wentz stated. “I’ve seen … how explosive he is with the ball in his hands, so that’s good for him to get out here, and it’s good for me to feel that and start developing that chemistry in-game.”

Rookie operating again shines

After prime operating again Antonio Gibson fumbled on the second drive, rookie Brian Robinson Jr. impressed with six carries for 26 yards and a landing. In a single collection he showcased a number of expertise — catching a display screen, utilizing imaginative and prescient to discover a slender gap, operating bodily on a short-yardage scenario — and seemed each bit the polished again who spent 5 years at Alabama.

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On the one-yard landing run, Turner confirmed religion in Robinson by motioning two tight ends from left to proper after which operating left.

“Brian showed us why we drafted him, and that’s the downhill, physical presence on the inside,” Rivera stated. “He runs with a good lean. He moves the pile, one of those things to create energy and sets a tone for the offensive line. … I was pretty excited of what we got.”

Robinson stated he hadn’t anticipated to play as early as he did and that whereas he was able to step in, he would want extra reps to really feel acclimated to the NFL.

“I still don’t feel comfortable,” he stated after the sport. “I still don’t feel like I’ve played enough to gain the comfortability that I need to play at this position. But the series that I was in gave me a good feel for what’s to come. The more I continue to get game reps, the more comfortable I’ll get.”

Washington introduced an attendance of 44,855, which displays the variety of tickets bought, not the variety of followers who went by the turnstiles.

This season, Washington is hoping to rebound from its dreadful 2021, when it completed thirty first out of 32 groups within the NFL with a median residence attendance of 52,751. The group appeared smaller than the introduced determine Saturday, however earlier than the sport, staff president Jason Wright spoke extremely of the progress the enterprise employees has made, together with that the rebrand is forward of schedule and that ticket gross sales are up largely due to the rebuilding of the bottom of season ticket holders.

“We feel like we’re in a really good spot,” he stated. “We’ve got other teams calling us to figure out what we’re doing, which is good.”

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