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Commanders praise 'remarkable' progress from Armani Rogers

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Eric Stokes has seen several players make position changes during his 22 years of experience as a scout and executive, including Richard Sherman moving from receiver to cornerback and Cam Chancellor shifting from quarterback to safety. 

None of them have been as "remarkable" to him as what Armani Rogers has accomplished in the past month. 

"I can't say that I've really ever really seen anyone move at this type of pace and that's why I'm so excited about where he's going, his trajectory really moving forward," Stokes said. 

Rogers, who was a quarterback for the Ohio Bobcats this time last year, has only been considered a tight end for about eight months, and most of his on-field experience has come in the past five weeks. The transition has been a grind, he told reporters on Wednesday, from learning routes to blocking, but the speed at which he grasped those skills, coupled with his production on the field, was enough to earn a spot on the Washington Commanders' 53-man roster. 

It is a testament to Rogers' dedication to making an impact at the professional level. 

"It's...just putting my mind to it and giving everything I have," Rogers said.

Rogers' first opportunity at tight end came during the East-West Shrine Bowl in January after wrapping up a five-year college career with Ohio and UNLV, during which he completed 50.8% of his passes for 2,847 yards while rushing for 2,215 yards and 27 touchdowns. He "did a little training" about two weeks before the all-star game.

About five months later, he signed with Commanders as an undrafted free agent.

There were few connections between quarterback and tight end for Rogers to grasp. Identifying coverages was a benefit, but he had never run routes, and as a quarterback, blocking was certainly not on his list of responsibilities.

It is a move that Logan Thomas, also a former quarterback in college and the NFL, is familiar with. Rogers did not spend much time with Thomas on the field during training camp, as the veteran started August on the Physically Unable to Perform List, but he has been valuable mentor to Rogers.

"When I first got here, I was able to talk to him about...what to expect," Rogers said. "What to expect, how to pick up the position a little bit faster, how to use my quarterback background."

Rogers had plenty of chances to put that tutelage into action, as both John Bates and fifth-round pick Cole Turner missed the majority of camp. The athleticism that Rogers showed at quarterback carried over to his new position, as he started building a rapport with Carson Wentz with multiple catches in practice.

Rogers finished the preseason with five receptions for 33 yards, including a 15-yarder against the Kansas City Chiefs. His growth in such a short amount of time was an impressive sight to general manager Martin Mayhew.

"I can't say enough about this kid, because we had some injuries in the tight end group," Mayhew. "He had some injuries as well, but he was able to get out there every single day and go and compete every single day."

Although he knows he is far from finished improving his skill set, Rogers is confident in his progress thus far.

"They gave me an opportunity," he said. "I went out there and was able to showcase what I'm capable of doing."

The Washington Commanders have released their initial 53-man roster for the 2022 season. Here are all the players who made the cut. (Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Stokes described his experience with Rogers as "a three-year process" from the first time he and Marty Hurney, executive vice president of football/player personnel, saw the now-tight end at UNLV. "He had this kind of Cam Newton look," Stokes said of Rogers, but it was clear that he was not going to be an NFL quarterback.

As easy as that was to predict, it was impossible for Stokes to know that Rogers would make such a drastic transition. "I'm almost speechless," he said, "because he really has done a fantastic job in terms of where he is."

Rogers' emergence created a wealth of value for Washington as it prepares for the 2022 season. Now, in the event that one of the team's top options misses time, it has a reliable piece that can fill in during their absence.

"I'm really excited about what the future holds for him," Mayhew said.

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