Commanders waiver claims: The one time they struck gold

Washington has struck gold with waivers before. Could it happen again with either of the new cornerbacks?

What benefit will the Commanders receive from claiming two cornerbacks off of waivers last week?

Yes, the reality is both Rachad Wildgoose and Tariq Castro-Fields were not valued as the top 53 players on their respective teams. Consequently, Wildgoose was let go by the Jets and Castro-Fields by the 49ers.

Did you notice head coach Ron Rivera looked to GM Martin Mayhew while admitting, “I think he’s (Wildgoose) a second-year player from the Jets,” and Mayhew confirmed that was correct.

It illustrates the league has too many players out there for a head coach to know everyone available. This is why you hire scouts and rely on Mayhew and Marty Hurney. One man cannot do it all, nor should he attempt to.

Mayhew himself was a good corner in the NFL with Washington (1989-92) and Tampa Bay (1993-96). You don’t last in the NFL eight seasons (starting the vast majority of your games) unless you know much about the position and are a great athlete.

Mayhew spoke highly of Washington’s new corners. After all, would anyone else in the organization know as much about what it takes to play corner as Mayhew?

Most of the time you claim a player off waivers, and he reminds you why he was on waivers. But then there are times the guy was maturing and blossomed when provided another opportunity.

Such was the case when Washington drafted an offensive tackle in the 11th round (272 overall). It didn’t work out, he went to Kansas City, but they waived him a month later.

The next season the Cowboys claimed him, but he didn’t impress enough there either and was waived during the preseason. The very next day Washington claimed him off waivers, hoping it would work for him the second time around. 28 days later, they again waived him.

Thinking he could play, they tried again a third season. He broke through, making the roster, even starting 7 games. His fourth season he started every game, playing well enough he started at right tackle for 12 consecutive seasons.

When he retired he had played in 156 games (all for Washington) starting 146. He had become good enough to be the starting right tackle for 6 Redskins playoff teams, 2 Super Bowl teams and 1 Super Bowl championship team.

He deservedly became an original member of “The Hogs,” and the Washington football organization does not regret having claimed George Starke off of waivers.

 

Preseason finale was serious for Reggie Bonnafon and Dax Milne

Dax Milne felt like he’s earned a spot on Washington’s 53-man roster.

An NFL preseason finale is boring for some and crucial for others.

The last preseason game is often viewed as meaningless because most teams rest the vast majority of their starters, choosing to not risk injury.

Yet, for some players, it is that final preseason game that provides them the largest opportunity they will experience prior to the regular season. Consequently, it means they can feasibly win one of the final roster spots of that team, or perhaps put enough on film that another team will claim them.

Saturday’s Commanders game was momentous for running back Reggie Bonnafon and receiver Dax Milne. Bonnafon is attempting to make the Commanders roster for the first time, after being with the Panthers (2019-21). While Milne is attempting to keep his spot earned last year as a rookie.

Bonnafon was in on 38 offensive snaps (50%), experiencing the thrill of scoring a touchdown on a 13-yard completion from Sam Howell. Reggie also rushed 10 times for 24 yards, and caught 3 passes for 19 yards.

“It was a nice read from Sam (Howell), and he caught me in stride. I turned and headed downfield, and I thought I had the goal line and was surprised they called me out at the one. But thank God for review, and they got the call right. It’s exciting to score.”

Reggie also rushed 10 times for 24 yards, and caught 2 passes for 19 yards. After the game he said he was expecting the workload in the game. “(I’m) not surprised, and I always appreciate it. We knew going into the game that it would basically be me and Jaret (Patterson). Now, we’ll see where the chips fall. It’s a weird time, because you’ve done all you can, and now it’s just a waiting game.”

The game was also urgent for Milne. He was drafted 258th in 2021, catching 9 passes for 83 yards last season. So what guarantee did he possess coming to training camp that he would be on the team for a second year?

“This is something the coaches continue to mention to us – not paying attention to what we’re hearing, just putting our best out on the field at all times. It’s what we put on our resume. Some guys don’t handle it well, but others do. I think I’m handling it OK, and I’m putting enough out there.”

Milne was targeted 4 times, catching all four, gaining 37 yards, including one for 21 yards.

Milne was asked if he feels like he deserves a spot on the team.

“I do. I do.”

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Commanders Jamin Davis ‘played with a lot of energy’

Jamin Davis finished the preseason on a strong note.

Jamin Davis got a surprise Saturday.

The second-year linebacker out of Kentucky was told he would be one of the many Washington Commanders sitting out the preseason finale in Baltimore. However, after coaches did their number-crunching, Davis was then later informed he would indeed be playing against the Ravens.

Head coach Ron Rivera pointed out the he liked the way Davis played Saturday night. “It was great to see Jamin running around early on. He played with a lot of energy.”

Davis was in on 7 defensive snaps (18%) but he still felt there was some benefit to getting in those seven reps.  “Of course. I mean, any opportunity you get to go out there and make plays and you make the most of it.”

Davis made an aggressive pursuing tackle on a wide running play and was asked about it post game. “That’s me just trying to play fast and not do all the extra things. Just playing ball at the end of the day.”

He was asked about being told he would not play, then later being told he would play after all. “I mean, regardless what the situation was, you prepare like you’re going to play at the end of the day. So, when they told me, ‘You’re going to go out there and play.’ I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

Davis is well aware of his disappointing rookie season and the disappointing 2021 season for the defense. He believes things are going better thus far in 2022. “Pretty comfortable. Just trying to go out there to play fast. Not even just the linebacker room; the whole defense as a whole. Getting off the field on third down, trying to get all of us to the ball. Just doing what we are doing. Playing to our standards at the end of the day.”

Davis feels he has made a stride and was asked what was the biggest forward step he has made this summer. “Just playing a lot faster. Honestly, that was the main focus for me. Just trying to eliminate the extra thinking.”

Many, including Davis are hoping he indeed has made great strides going into the 2022 regular season. If he has, it could be a big boost to the Commanders’ defense.

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Ron Rivera offers some good news regarding the tight end position

Ron Rivera expects John Bates will return to practice this week. That’s more good news for Washington’s tight ends.

It’s been a difficult summer for the Washington Commanders’ tight ends. The Commanders have been shorthanded at tight end throughout training camp, but the injuries also opened the door for some younger, unknown players.

When training camp began, starter Logan Thomas was rehabbing from a torn ACL and began training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Top backup John Bates missed most of training camp with a calf injury, returning briefly before going back out again. And rookie fifth-round pick Cole Turner was the talk of camp in their absence until he suffered a hamstring injury, missing all of Washington’s preseason games.

That opened the door for a pair of undrafted rookies in Armani Rogers and Curtis Hodges. Unfortunately for Hodges, he also missed time with an injury.

After Washington’s preseason loss to the Ravens on Saturday, head coach Ron Rivera offered some good news regarding Washington’s tight ends.

This would be excellent news for the Commanders. Thomas was activated from the PUP list last week, and for the first time, Washington could have both of its top two tight ends on the practice field together. In addition, Turner should be close to a return after it was initially expected to be a two-week injury.

As of now, expect Washington to keep four tight ends. Thomas, Bates and Turner are locks. Rogers is essentially a lock. The former college quarterback has terrific size and athleticism and looks like a natural at the position. That would give the Commanders a strong and diverse group.

It’s been a tough summer for Washington’s tight ends, but brighter days are ahead as the Commanders begin the regular season.

 

 

Commanders WR Dyami Brown missed an opportunity

Dyami Brown missed some opportunities on Saturday. Could it impact his roster spot?

Dyami Brown was likely the talk of the first half.

Brown, a third-round draft selection in 2021, was really being counted upon this preseason, and the results have been less than was expected.

On Saturday night against the Ravens in Baltimore, Brown raised eyebrows again, more for what he did not do than what he actually accomplished.

Brown was matched up with former North Carolina Tar Heel teammate and quarterback Sam Howell. Sure enough, Howell provided Brown with five targets in the first half. However, the five targets would produce only 42 yards, and there was a big one that got away from Brown.

On Washington’s initial offensive possession, a 1st & 10 from the 33 saw Howell go over the middle to Brown, but the pass was incomplete.

On a 3rd & 4 from the 50, Brown held on to a Howell pass for 26 yards, taking the ball down to the Baltimore 24.

Brown then dropped a slant from Howell on third down and Washington had to settle for a Joey Slye field goal attempt, which he missed.

On the Commanders’ second offensive possession beginning at their own 27, Howell on the first play went to Brown over the middle. Brown made the catch, gaining 16 yards for a first down up to the Washington 43.

Then the big one that got away occurred. On 3rd & 9 from the Ravens 26, Howell found Brown down the right sideline. The pass was slightly up; but by no means was it overthrown. Brown really needed to make that catch. Perhaps after watching the replay, he might think he should have gone up with two hands to make the catch? It was a sure touchdown that got away from Brown when he really needed it.

Brown made two nice plays, but he also certainly dropped two balls he should have caught. Last year coaches were very hopeful Brown would become a second option after Terry McLaurin. Now, he might actually be behind Cam Sims and be the team’s fifth receiver. With Dax Milne and Alex Erickson offering the ability to return punts and kicks, might Brown be in trouble for a roster spot?

 

Ravens defeat Commanders in preseason finale: Everything we know

Sam Howell went the distance for the Commanders in their preseason loss to the Ravens. Here is everything we know from Baltimore’s 17-15 win.

The Baltimore Ravens extended their preseason winning streak to 23 games by defeating the Washington Commanders 17-15 in the preseason finale Saturday.

The Commanders started rookie quarterback Sam Howell, and he played the entire game. Howell looked as if he might lead Washington to a come-from-behind win late in the fourth quarter. After a touchdown pass to running back Reggie Bonnafon, Washington’s defense held, giving the Commanders one more chance.

However, after one first down, Washington’s offense bogged down, and Baltimore escaped with a narrow two-point win.

Here is everything we know from the Commanders’ preseason finale.

Commanders fall to Ravens in preseason finale

Washington ends the preseason with an 0-3 record. Next up is Week 1 and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Washington Commanders 17-15 in the preseason finale Saturday night. Washington ends the preseason with an 0-3 record, while the Ravens win their 23rd consecutive preseason game.

Rookie quarterback Sam Howell started and played the entire game for Washington. Howell completed 24 of 35 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 62 yards on eight attempts.

At one point, it looked like Baltimore may run away with the win. The Ravens led 17-6 in the third quarter and had the ball before Washington’s defense tightened up.

Howell led the Commanders on an impressive eight-play, 66-yard drive to make it 17-15. Washington went for two as Howell found Matt Cole in the end zone, but multiple Ravens defenders hit Cole as the ball arrived.

The Commanders’ defense forced another punt, giving Howell and the offense another chance to end Baltimore’s meaningless preseason streak. Unfortunately, after a first down, the offense came up short as Howell and the wide receiver had a miscommunication on a fourth-down pass, turning the ball back over to the Ravens.

While the Commanders didn’t come away with a preseason win, head coach Ron Rivera is happy to see it end now, as Washington looks ahead to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1.

Ravens mascot is carted off the field

Baltimore’s mascot, Poe, is carted off the field.

It’s not every day your mascot is carted off the field. That’s precisely what happened before the start of the second half in the preseason finale between the Washington Commanders and Baltimore Ravens from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Baltimore’s mascot, Poe, was injured during halftime of the NFL game after participating in a mascot football game against a youth team.

Hopefully, Poe is fine. Fortunately, Jamison Hensley, who covers the Ravens for ESPN, will ask Baltimore coach John Harbaugh for an update on Poe.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are looking for their 23rd consecutive preseason win.

 

Ravens lead Commanders 7-6 at halftime in preseason finale

The Ravens lead the Commanders 7-6 at halftime.

The Baltimore Ravens lead the Washington Commanders 7-6 at halftime in the preseason finale from M&T Bank Stadium.

The Commanders sat almost every starter for the game except linebacker Jamin Davis and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste. Rookie quarterback Sam Howell got the start under center for the Commanders.

Howell looked good early, connecting with former college teammate Dyami Brown on two completions for 45 yards. However, Brown dropped a third-down pass on one possession, leading to a field-goal attempt, which Washington kicker Joey Slye missed.

On the next possession, Howell found Brown down the right sideline, but with a Baltimore defender approaching, the ball skipped off Brown’s hands, and Slye came in for another field goal, making it this time for a 3-0 lead.

Washington’s defense was solid except for one breakdown when cornerback Danny Johnson lost his coverage on a 67-yard touchdown from Anthony Brown to Demarcus Robinson to give Baltimore a 7-3 lead.

The Commanders would have a first & goal but came up short, settling for another field.

Howell completed 10 of 16 passes for 116 yards in the first half. Running back Jaret Patterson led the Commanders with 34 rushing yards, while Brown had two receptions for 45 yards. Dax Milne caught four passes for 37 yards.

It was a tough first quarter for Dyami Brown in the preseason finale

An up-and-down first quarter for Washington wide receiver Dyami Brown.

The stage was set for second-year wide receiver Dyami Brown to have a big night in Washington’s preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens. Washington’s top receivers were inactive, meaning Brown would see plenty of action. Even better, Brown’s former college teammate, Sam Howell, would start at quarterback.

Things started well for Brown, as Howell found him twice for 45 yards. However, it’s the one miss that will have everyone talking.

As the Commanders faced a 3rd & 9 from Baltimore’s 26-yard line, Howell dropped back and found Brown down the right sideline for a surefire touchdown. Unfortunately, the ball bounced off Brown’s hands, and Washington settled for a field goal.

One miss happens, but this happened to be Brown’s second drop on third down in back-to-back drives on good throws from Howell.

Here is a look at one of Howell’s completions to Brown.

The good news is Brown is winning on his routes. He should, as a recent third-round pick playing against mostly backups. But he needs to finish. Entering training camp, no one thought Brown would be on the bubble. Perhaps he isn’t on the bubble, but he is playing significant minutes in the preseason finale, so it’s clear the coaches want to see more.

There’s still plenty of time for Brown to finish the preseason on a strong note.