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Christian Holmes looking forward to adding man coverage ability to Commanders defense

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There are two things Christian Holmes wants Washington Commanders fans to know about him as he enters his rookie season.

The first is that he's also known as "Sip." It's a nickname he earned at Oklahoma State because he grew up in Mississippi before playing high school football in Georgia.

The second is that he prides himself on his ability in man coverage, which he feels is one of the strongest traits he can add to the secondary.

"It's no secret," Holmes said on what it takes to succeed as a man corner. "It's all about having tools in your arsenal."

Holmes has a history of using the weapons at his disposal to his advantage. Prior to transferring to Oklahoma State, Holmes played at Missouri from 2016-18, and once Holmes became a more active member of the Tigers' secondary in 2018, there was a stretch where he was tied with Greedy Williams, a second-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2019, for the lowest passer rating allowed on third and fourth down among defensive backs with at least 10 targets.

That season, Holmes led the Tigers with 12 pass breakups, as they went 8-4 and earned a berth in the Liberty Bowl. Throughout his five years playing at the college football level, Holmes recorded 28 pass breakups and three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

"What we do like is his physicality, his quickness and speed in which he plays," said coach Ron Rivera. "He's a raw talent that does have some man skills about him and some opportunity, I think, to show what he can do."

Check out the top shots from the Washington Commanders beginning Phase 2 of the offseason workout program. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)

Holmes knows that having a diverse set of tools has become even more important now that he's in the NFL. In college, every team has quality receivers, but there is a short list of players with talent that rises above the rest.

In the NFL, though, teams have rosters full of talented pass-catchers, meaning the margin for error has drastically shrunk.

"You can't come out there every game and pulling out the same technique," Holmes said. "You gotta have so many different things in your toolbox, and that's the only way you can be successful."

Having a reliable set of moves is important, but winning in man coverage also involves a high level of competition. And Holmes is looking forward to that, too.

"Everybody comes out there [in] the first series of the game, light in their eyes, running as fast as they can, running the best routes they can," Holmes said. "But when you got a 200-pound guy in your face, slapping you every play, hitting you in the shoulder…things like that wear a guy down."

Holmes, who was taken with Commanders' final pick (No. 240 overall) of the draft, will have "no pressure," according to Rivera, to make an immediate impact during his rookie season. For now, his job will be to develop his skillset and learn behind Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III.

But if he makes strides, Rivera does believe his traits provide a foundation for a solid career.

"They got a guy where I'm a sponge, I'm soaking in all the information," Holmes said, "because I know I'll be around a lot of great players."

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