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2023 training camp preview | Linebacker


The Washington Commanders are inching closer to the start of training camp and a critical year for the franchise. 

We're about a month away from the players and reporting to Ashburn after taking some time off. There were high expectations for the team in 2022, and while there were some positives, including a 6-1 stretch to get in playoff contention, it fell short of its goal with an 8-8-1 record. Now, with a new quarterback and offensive coordinator leading the offense, the expectations have continued to rise all offseason. will be breaking down each position and how they've changed in the past year. Next up are the linebackers. 


  • Cole Holcomb 


  • Cody Barton

Key storylines 

-- Jamin Davis' expectations for Year 3: Linebacker Jamin Davis needed to play better after an up-and-down rookie campaign in 2021. Both Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio made that clear to him, both publicly and privately. 

Apparently, that tactic worked on Davis, and the former Kentucky Wildcat showed steady improvement in just about every category, leading the team with 104 tackles. That is now the standard Davis is expected to surpass in 2023, and his coaches are eager to see his upward trajectory continue. 

"Year three now, we should expect him to be at his best," Del Rio said. 

Davis dealt with a cleanup procedure that kept him out of OTAs, but he showed enough last season for the team to be excited about his future. He had a better grasp of his assignments, so much so that he was allowed to make the on-field calls during the season, and he used his athleticism to make game-changing plays like his third-down stop against the Colts near the goal line. 

Davis should be healthy for training camp, and there will be high hopes for how he performs.

-- Cody Barton's fit on the defense: Washington needed to retool its linebackers this offseason, especially with Cole Holcomb hitting the open market this offseason. The team has found an adequate replacement in Cody Barton, who coaches and staff members believe has his best years ahead of him.

"We think he's ready to step his game up," said general manager Martin Mayhew. "He showed that last year, and we're excited about the opportunity to work with him."

Barton, who is coming off a career high 136 tackles and two interception season, mostly worked with the backups in OTAs, but that was only done to let him learn the defense at a more manageable level.

Barton has done some intense studying since being signed by the Commanders in March. He's a self-described "flash card guy," and he would even walk through his assignments at his apartment while watching film.

So far, Barton loves the way the Commanders run their defense.

"It's not just, 'You have to do this because it's your job,'" Barton said. "At the same time, if the ball's over there, go to the ball. And it helps with the DBs we got and the D-Line we got. It definitely makes my job easier."

We'll soon get to see how much all that studying paid off in camp.

-- Can Khaleke Hudson take another step forward: The 2022 season was a full circle moment for Khaleke Hudson. He started the year being cut and signed to the team's practice squad. Five months later, he was starting the Commanders' Week 18 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Hudson was signed to a one-year extension this offseason, in part because of how well he played in the Cowboys victory. Now that he has his coaches' attention, they are expecting him to become a more meaningful contributor at the position.

"Guys like Khaleke Hudson have really been playing outstanding," Del Rio said. "I think gained a little bit of confidence from that last outing against Dallas. He went out there and played really well, and so he's coming to the offseason full of energy and getting a lot of reps because Jamin is not going."

Hudson, a 2020 draft pick, has played well at times but struggled to get on the field for most of his career. He was one of bigger standouts from OTAs, and if he can manage to keep that momentum going into the season, it would bolster one of the thinner positions on the roster.

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