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Five takeaways from Washington's preseason win against the Bengals


The Washington Commanders just wrapped up the preseason with a 21-19 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, pushing their record to 3-0. Here are five takeaways from the victory, presented by Maryland Lottery. 

1. The running backs were productive. 

It's unclear at this point what the depth at running back will look like behind Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr., and the Commanders have some tough decisions to make at the position. 

Washington outpaced the Bengals on the ground, 150-89, while averaging six yards per carry on 25 attempts. Most of this came from the duo of Jaret Patterson and Chris Rodriguez Jr., both of whom rushed for at least 50 yards. 

Other than a 25-yard run to finish the first half, most of Rodriguez's runs resulted in him chipping away at the Bengals' defense. That suited the Commanders just fine, though, because Rodriguez was able to push the pile forward with his physical running style. Runs like his eight-yard pickup on first-and-16 in the second quarter might not look particularly impressive, but they did manage to keep the offensive momentum moving in a positive direction. 

Like Rodriguez, Patterson was not afraid of contact, but he also added some elusiveness that resulted in explosive plays. He flipped the field for the Commanders in the third quarter with a 19-yard run, setting the offense up at the Bengals' 44-yard line. He also helped end the game for Washington with four straight runs on final drive of the fourth quarter.

Check out the best photos from the Washington Commanders' preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carrol/Washington Commanders)

2. The linebackers made critical stops. 

The Commanders' linebackers are not as highly touted as the secondary or defensive line. However, they came up with several critical stops that stymied drives for the Bengals. 

Let's start by talking about Khaleke Hudson, who came up with two tackles for loss in the first half. With the Bengals at the Commanders' 3-yard line ready to score, he broke through the line of scrimmage to take down Chase Brown for a four-yard loss. The second TFL was more impactful; on a third-and-18, Hudson sniffed out a screen pass and bottled Brown up again to force a fourth down. 

Then there's David Mayo, who recorded back-to-back tackles on the same drive as Hudson's screen tackle. On second-and-5 at the Bengals' 35, Mayo made the extra effort to dive and grab hold of Brown, limiting him to just a two-yard gain. 

The Commanders kept five linebackers last season, and it's likely that they do something similar in 2023. The backups they do keep will need to be productive, so plays like the ones Hudson and Mayo made are encouraging as the team finishes up the preseason.

3. The competition at receiver tightens up. 

The Commanders have several talented receivers at the bottom of the roster. There are only one or two spots left, meaning Washington will have to let one of those players go in a couple of days. 

The decision won't be easy. 

Of the wideouts that saw action against the Bengals, Mitchell Tinsley and Brycen Tremayne were two who stood out the most. Tinsley made three catches on four targets, leading the Commanders with 89 yards. He got the Commanders on the board with a 39-yard touchdown, spinning past a Bengals defender on his way to the end zone. His second catch was almost a touchdown as well, but the ball touched the outside of the pylon when he dove for the score, putting the team at the 1-yard line. 

That's where Tremayne comes into the picture. On the next play, he caught a pass on the right side of the end zone for the one-yard score, putting the Commanders up by four points. Prior to that, Tremayne had two other catches, one of which resulted in a 16-yard gain. 

Both players made strong cases as to why they should still be on the roster, which is a good problem for the Commanders to have.

4. Quan Martin was all over the field. 

Quan Martin’s development has been a topic of discussion since camp began, and while the rookie still has plenty of work to do, he took another step forward during Saturday's game.  

Martin ended the night with five stops, and several of his plays showed how impressive his closing speed can be. His first tackle at the start of the second quarter resulted in a five-yard gain, but the play by Stanley Morgan could have gone for much more had Martin not sprinted from across the field to get him out of bounds.  

During the Bengals' final drive of the first half, Martin had three stops, two of which helped hold the Bengals to minimal gains. Plays like that show how much Martin can offer Washington once he gets more settled into the defense. He's learning several positions right now, so he's having to digest waves of information. As the game slows down for him, those positive plays will come more often.

5. Like a good neighbor... 

Last week, Jake Fromm played a key role in helping the Commanders take down the Baltimore Ravens with a two-minute drive in the fourth quarter. He followed that up with another sharp performance, and while it's unlikely the Commanders will keep three quarterbacks on the active roster, he's made a strong case that he should make the practice squad. 

Fromm ended the night completing 13 of his 18 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He was uneven to start the day, going just 2-of-5 in the first half. In the second half, however, Fromm was much more accurate, hitting 11 of his 13 targets. On the Commanders' final scoring drive of the night, Fromm was a perfect 4-for-4, including his seven-yard strike to Brandon Dillon that resulted in a touchdown.  

Fromm finished the preseason with 261 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in three games. Hopefully the Commanders aren't in a situation where they need his services during the season, but he has proven that he can effectively manage the offense if he is needed.

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