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Wake Up Washington | First preseason game can influence confidence, build important first impressions


After over two weeks spent ramping up for real game action, the Washington Commanders will get their first taste of football against an opponent on Saturday against the Carolina Panthers.   

And while few would claim that any outcome or specific moment from a preseason game could predict how the regular season unfolds, these games are important benchmarks for coaches to evaluate. When it comes to the Commanders offense, a big focus of Saturday will be getting into a rhythm.  

"You want to see some consistency out there," said coach Ron Rivera. "You want to see some consistency in the huddle, breaking the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage and then being successful with the plays that are called."  

The first time the offense takes the field will be important. How that first group seizes the moment can settle nerves, establish a tone and offer indicators as where they are at as a unit.  

"When the starters play, you want that first drive to be seamless, you want to convert on third down, you want them to get a big play, you want them to score points," Logan Paulsen said.  

The same applies for the other side of the ball.   

"Defensively, you want to get off the field on third down," Paulsen said. "It sounds really simple, but just that level of confidence in those situations, with that first group specifically, shows a lot about where this team is at."  

Playing against the Panthers offense comes with an opportunity that the Commanders will enjoy. Both Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold have a good chunk of NFL experience under their belt, so the first two Commanders group that goes out there will be tested at a high level.  

"It's a good measuring stick for the depth of the roster," Paulsen said.  

On both sides of the ball, Saturday will be vital for players clawing to stay on the roster.  

"Those guys who are fighting for a spot, this is a real football game for those guys," Santana Moss said. "They're going to eat right this week, they're going to sleep right the day before the game, and they're gonna go out there and play with their hair on fire."

Here's a morning roundup of what the local and national media have to say about the Washington Commanders on Friday, August 12, 2022. All reports, rumors and conjecture are a reflection of the media conversation and are not endorsed or confirmed by the Washington Commanders.

The reports and deals expressed in this article have not been confirmed by Washington, nor do they reflect any insider information from anyone in the front office.

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