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Commanders 2024 training camp preview | Running back


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 an overturned 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 are the running backs.

On the roster

  • Austin Ekeler
  • Austin Jones
  • Jeremy McNichols
  • Brian Robinson Jr.
  • Chris Rodriguez Jr.
  • Michael Wiley

What to watch

  • How will Austin Ekeler affect the backfield? The Commanders set out to bring in experienced veterans to help direct a young roster in Quinn's first season. Ekeler, one of the most accomplished running backs in the league, was an easy choice for them, both in terms of production and leadership. Injuries limited Ekeler in 2023, but he still managed to put up 1,000 yards of total offense. He has proven himself as a potent runner and receiver, catching 79.1% of his targets for 3,884 yards. The hope is that having Ekeler on the roster will diversify the offense, giving Daniels a reliable pass-catcher if plays downfield don't materialize. We haven't seen much of how the Commanders will use Ekeler yet, but we should get a clearer picture as camp unfolds.
  • A breakout year for Brian Robinson? Robinson has had an interesting first couple of years in the NFL. He missed the first five games of his rookie year with multiple gunshot wounds, which limited him even after he returned to the field. He was better in 2023, but since the Commanders ran the ball at the lowest rate in the league, his workload was reduced by almost 30 carries. He still managed to put up 733 yards and five touchdowns, though, and with a new coaching staff that is certain to run the ball more often, that should mean more opportunities for Robinson to emerge as one of the best young running backs playing today. It will all depend on how he handles the situation, but given that Robinson has been successful despite his injuries and decreased usage, there's confidence that he will take the increased snaps in stride.
  • Who will be RB3? It's clear that Robinson and Ekeler are at the top of the Commanders' depth chart at running back. However, the rest of the position is murky. Rodriguez, a sixth-round pick from the previous regime, veteran McNichols as well as college free agents Austin Jones and Michael Wiley are all vying for that third spot. McNichols is the most experienced of that bunch, but Rodriguez showed some promise later in the season. It's possible that special teams will play a role in deciding the final spot. None of the players at the bottom of the running back roster have much experience in that regard, although Wiley did return some kicks with Arizona. It's not the sexiest position battle that will happen in camp, but if the Commanders do end up running the ball more often, it could be an important one.

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