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Commanders announce captains for 2023 season

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The Washington Commanders have announced their captains for the 2023 season.

Quarterback Sam Howell, wide receiver Terry McLaurin, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, cornerback Kendall Fuller, safety Jeremy Reaves and punter Tress Way were voted as captains by their teammates. Allen has been named a captain for the fifth time in his career, meaning that he will receive a gold patch. McLaurin and Way will be captains for a fourth season. Howell and Reaves were voted as captains for the first time in their careers.

Allen is coming off another Pro Bowl season that saw him record 65 tackles, 17 quarterback hits, 7.5 sacks, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and an interception. As one of the clear leaders on defense, Allen has missed only one game in the last five seasons, and since receiving a contract extension ahead of the 2021 season, he has been recognized as one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

"You realize the impact he has on the game," said Washington receiver Jahan Dotson. "It seems like every single play, he's in the backfield clogging up holes, making his presence felt."

Like Allen, McLaurin has been one of the Commanders' permanent fixtures since he was drafted and is considered to be among the best at his position. He's coming off another career performance, amassing 1,191 yards and five touchdowns 77 receptions.

"Ultimate professional," said Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. "Does a hell of a job of showing up to work every single day. You want everybody to be like Terry. Terry works his tail off. He sets an example by his work ethics and what he does. He's also a man of his word."

Way, who has a decade of NFL experience under his belt, earned a second Pro Bowl nod for recording 37 punts inside the 20-yard line with a touchback rate of six percent. In 83 punts, Way allowed just 212 return yards -- the second-lowest total of his career.

As the leader of the Commanders' secondary, Fuller put together one of the best campaigns of his career in 2022. He caught three interceptions last season, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He also broke up 13 passes, marking the fifth time in seven seasons that he recorded double-digit deflections.

Howell was named the starting quarterback in the second half of training camp, but he has been considered "QB1" since the start of OTAs. It has not taken long to prove himself as a leader to his teammates. McLaurin has noticed that Howell has "a quiet confidence" to him, and his poise leading the offense has been a guiding force for the entire offense.

"He's taken the bull by the horns, and he's really led us a lot this offseason," McLaurin said.

The confidence and growth that Howell showed in camp made it an easy decision for Ron Rivera to name him the starter for the 2023 season. While Howell showed noticeable improvement in several areas, he also knows that he still has much to learn.

"I'm still not satisfied with my development," Howell said. "I still think there's things I can improve on, but I do feel like I've put myself in a good spot."

An example of Howell's leadership that specifically impressed Rivera came during the Commanders' joint practices with the Ravens. The two teams were chippy throughout the week, but Howell remained calm in the commotion and recentered the offense.

"There was a lot of emotion out there, and he had to stay cool and...calm and kind of exude that to his teammates to get them refocused and practice," Rivera said. "And that's probably the most important thing is you lead your guys through situations like that...and it kind of showed today. I was really pleased with that."

Reaves has been a strong example for his teammates over the years, and his hard work finally paid off in 2022. He was named to the 53-man roster for the first time in his career, and he turned that opportunity into a Pro Bowl performance as well as a First Team All-Pro selections by The Associated Press and the NFLPA.

Last year, Reaves was tied for third in the NFL with 17 special teams tackles and set a career high with 33 stops.

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