William Jackson III made some lofty claims as Week 1 of training camp wrapped up for the Washington Commanders: the communication in the secondary is "1,000% better" than last season.
It's been common for a Commanders defensive back to talk up the group. It's the same story they've been telling since OTAs began in June. The secondary backed up those claims in a big way to kick off Week 2 of camp.
The defense had Washington's receiving corps locked down throughout the day with five interceptions, three of which came in four plays spanning about five minutes. The defense has looked ahead of the offense for the most part through five practices, which is to be expected early in camp.
Still, It's clear that the defense has all the momentum as the team prepares for its first full day of pads. Let's take a look at some of the observations from Monday morning.
-- We'll start things off with what may have been the most impressive pick of the day. Kendall Fuller, who was one of the standouts from Week 1 of practice, perfectly jumped a pass from Carson Wentz to Cam Sims. Sims tried to take the ball away, but Fuller kept the ball in his grasp and ran a few yards downfield before the play was blown dead. Fuller only had one interception in 2021, despite a career-high 16 pass breakups. We could see that number bump up a bit more in 2022.
-- There were some bright spots for the offense, most notably Turner. The fifth-round pick is quickly turning into a reliable red zone target, as he had another touchdown catch today in the back of the end zone. Turner got a bit banged up after one incompletion and had to be taken out of the lineup for a few plays, but he was back on the field shortly.
-- The second pick came one play later, as Wentz was looking for Cole Turner near the right sideline. Kamren Curl was there for the leaping grab before running out of bounds. Curl has had a mostly quiet camp in terms of highlight plays, but Ron Rivera has been high on the third-year safety, saying his communication skills with Bobby McCain have been strong.
-- The third pick was from Taylor Heinicke, as the second group took the field. This time, it was Percy Butler who jumped the route. Another player who quietly does his job, Butler is certainly getting used to his role, which includes lining up at several positions. Rivera believes Butler, a fourth-round pick, will have an immediate impact on the defense. Today's play was a peak at what he could be as a rookie.
-- Rivera said after practice that they had a specific plan for Antonio Gibson’s return, and it seems like he's ready for the next step. Gibson participated in 11-on-11 and 9-on-9 drills, and Rivera said he looked spry. He even hurdled over an obstacle during individual drills. Gibson backed up those claims when he addressed the media, saying that he felt confident in his body.
-- Jeremy Reaves made an impressive pick in the left corner of the end zone from Sam Howell. Reaves has managed to make his way on the roster at various points over the past two seasons, but more plays like his interception should create a strong case for why he deserves a spot on the initial 53-man roster.
-- The final interception of the day came near the end of practice, as Wentz was targeting Terry McLaurin on a comeback route. Bobby McCain was there for the grab.
-- Some final notes: Chase Roullier was also a participant in 11-on-11 drills for the first time today. His addition should shake up the rotation on the offensive line, particularly at guard.