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Hail Mail | Training camp is finally upon us


You smell that? It's the sweet aroma of training camp in the air. It's also the return of Hail Mail gracing your timeline with answers to your questions about the Washington Commanders.

There should be plenty of headlines for fans to follow for the next month, whether it be Carson Wentz’s progress in the offense, Terry McLaurin’s chemistry with Jahan Dotson or the players getting snaps at buffalo nickel.

It's the start of the Commanders' journey towards what is hopefully a successful campaign. But let's not waste any more time and get to answering all the inquiries about the team.

-- R. Wallis: LB and DE depth seems a little light. Do you anticipate any depth signings?

If they come anywhere between now and Week 1, I think that's where they'll be.

Ron Rivera said Washington will run more two linebacker sets this season, and technically they have some depth for those situations. Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis are set as the starters, while David Mayo and Khaleke Hudson will be the backups. But Rivera also mentioned that linebacker would be a spot they look at if they decide to bring in a veteran.

However, I don't foresee that coming soon. Rivera seems more content to let things on the roster play out and assess the situation after camp. If the current group doesn't perform as excepted, then the Commanders have the cap space to add someone. The same could be said with defensive end, but I think they like the current group they have as well.

-- E. Clark: How do you think the addition of Jahan Dotson through the draft and Curtis Samuel coming back from injury will help expand Terry's game?

The simple answer is that I think it's going to give McLaurin the best supporting cast he's ever had.

McLaurin is an exceptional receiver who knows how to win against any coverage. Opposing defenses are aware of that, so he was often double covered to ensure that he couldn't break loose (he still did on occasion, but I digress)

Dotson, paired with a healthy Curtis Samuel, eliminates that to some degree. Dotson has some "McLaurin-esque" qualities with his catch radius and route precision. McLaurin even told NBC Sports Washington's Pete Hailey that it looked "pretty dang good for a rookie." Samuel brings his unique speed and versatility, and while he did miss some time during OTAs, he looked like his old self when he was on the field.

The point is that McLaurin doesn't have to win games by himself anymore. Assuming everything goes to plan, defenses will need to account for more weapons, which should give McLaurin more chances to flourish.

-- J. Stortzum: Do you think it's possible that the Commanders end up with two 1,000-yard receivers at the end of the season? Or is that a huge reach?

It's not a huge reach, but it's still a reach.

That's not an indictment against the Commanders' offense. Like I said in the question above, I think this is the best supporting cast McLaurin has ever had. However, the old cliché about there only being one football is overused for a reason.

If Washington had just McLaurin and one of the other two receivers, I might be more inclined to say two 1,000-yard receivers is possible. But there are three talented wideouts at the top of the roster, not to mention the rest of the position and pass-catchers at tight end and running back. There are simply too many players for Wentz for him to focus on just two of them.

I could be wrong (I kinda hope I am), but for now I think one 1,000-yard receiver is more realistic.

-- D. Dunkins: Do you think there's a chance Brian Robinson will become RB1 before the end of the season?


That's a terse answer, but as much as I like Brian Robinson (he's my favorite draft pick of the bunch), there's no way he usurps the Commanders' other options at running back.

That doesn't take anything away from what I think will be Robinson's role. He's going to be invaluable in short-yardage situations and provide runs that will keep the chains moving (think Peyton Barber, or as I liked to call him, "Mr. Third-and-2," back in 2020). But this staff feels strongly about what Antonio Gibson brings to the backfield, and J.D. McKissic is still one of the best pass-catching running backs out there.

-- G. Torentino: Will Sam Howell and Cole Kelley play in preseason games?

You're going to be seeing a lot of Sam Howell and Cole Kelley in preseason games.

As is preseason tradition, the starters will not play much, and that is especially true now that there are only three games. Wentz may get a few drives in the first two games, while Taylor Heinicke will presumably get a few more.

The final game will almost certainly see Howell and Kelley line up under center for the entire game.

J.Elkins: What is your all-time favorite Madden?

I haven't played Madden in a while, but I was a big fan of Madden 08 and still believe it's one of the best versions of the game. It gave me countless memories, and I used to love using the Tennessee Titans for the Chris Johnson and LenDale White "Smash and Dash" combo.

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