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Commanders 2024 training camp preview | Defensive line

06122024 Minicamp EF192

We're now in July, which means that training camp is coming soon.

It's going to be an interesting period for the Washington Commanders, who are entering the next stage of a new regime. It will be general manager Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn's first season leading the Burgundy & Gold, and all eyes will be on Jayden Daniels as he begins to earn his spot as Washington's starting quarterback.

This year's training camp will also feature a new roster, half of which is made up of new players and draft picks.

For the next few weeks, will be looking at each position and highlighting some of the challenges they will face until the season begins. Next up is the defensive line.

On the roster

  • DE Dorance Armstrong
  • DE Clelin Ferrell
  • DE Dante Fowler Jr.
  • DE Jalen Harris
  • DE KJ Henry
  • DE Javontae Jean-Baptiste
  • DE Andre Jones Jr.
  • DE Efe Obada
  • DT Jonathan Allen
  • DT Phidarian Mathis
  • DT Haggai Ndubuisi
  • DT Jer'Zhan Newton
  • DT Daron Payne
  • DT Norell Pollard
  • DT Benning Potoa'e
  • DT John Ridgeway III

What to watch

  • How will Jer'Zhan Newton fit on the defensive line? Drafting Newton was a luxury the Commanders could not pass up when they saw he was available at No. 36 overall. Considered by many as one of the top defensive linemen in the draft, the Commanders consider Newton to be a Day 1 contributor because of his ability to crash pockets and fill running lanes. The question the Commanders will have to answer, though, is how will Newton fit into what they already have? Allen and Payne are going to be the starters, which would assumedly make Newton a fringe starter based on his talent. Regardless of how many snaps he gets, deciding how to use Newton is a good problem to have.
  • Who will be the starters at defensive end? The Commanders are going through a massive change at defensive end, considering that neither of last year's Day 1 starters are on the roster. The team signed three new players and drafted another to find an answer at the spot. During OTAs, Armstrong and Ferrell were the two starters. They have the most experience of Washington's options, and Armstrong is coming off the best two seasons of his career. Still, the team is encouraging competition at all positions, so perhaps Fowler, Obada or one of the other defensive ends will make a push in August.
  • Who will emerge behind Allen and Payne? As mentioned above, we know that Allen and Payne -- two of the best players at their position in the NFL -- are going to be the Commanders' starters in the interior. Newton will also factor in some way, but what about the other players on the roster? There are certainly some interesting options. Mathis was a second-round pick in 2022, but injuries have prevented him from being much of an impact player. Ridgeway has played well since the Commanders acquired him off the Cowboys' practice squad, and now he's reunited with Quinn. It will all depend on how many defensive linemen Washington keeps for the initial 53-man roster, but defensive tackle could be one of the deepest positions on the team.

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