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Jayden Daniels is the early bird at Commanders facility and impressing his veteran teammates


Nick Allegretti has a specific routine that he's developed over the course of his five-year NFL career, and it starts early. He's used to being one of the first players in the building, but ever since first-round pick Jayden Daniels joined the Washington Commanders, those bragging rights belong to the rookie.

"I like to get in here, get in the tubs, work out, and [I] haven't been here before him yet," Allegretti said.

Allegretti isn't the only one who has noticed Daniels' early bird habits. Jonathan Allen prides himself on being the first player to arrive at the facility each day and hasn't beaten Daniels yet. Zach Ertz said Daniels is doing a lot behind the scenes, and Bobby Wagner praised Daniels for putting in the extra work.

So, what exactly is Daniels doing at OrthoVirginia Training Center so early? He's making sure he's living the part of being the franchise's future.

"I get here around like 5:45 a.m. and just walk through in the bubble, watching film and stuff like that," Daniels said. "But just trying to prepare myself for the day."

Daniels' work ethic was a point of emphasis in the months leading up to the NFL draft. From the time he arrived at LSU in 2022, he arrived early and stayed late at the Tigers' facility to learn "how to train like a pro," he said in an article by The Players' Tribune.

"Preparing as a pro is having consistency in your routine," Daniels wrote. "I wake up at five, watch film at the facility for 45 minutes to an hour, go back home, eat, take a nap if necessary, come back up, take care of my body, and get ready for practice. Eat lunch, go to meetings, extra reps after practice, treatment, watch practice film. You get the idea. And you also have to build in quality time to hang out with your teammates so that you can connect. It's fully adopting the mentality of first one in, last one out."

Hearing about it is one thing; seeing it in action is another. Although Daniels has not been named the starter, he is approaching his situation with a veteran mentality. It's one of the many things about Daniels that Washington's coaches have been pleased with since the franchise made the decision to draft him.

"He really has a very firm handle on the things that we're doing, but he also has the humility of a young player," said head coach Dan Quinn. "And so I thought, what a cool combination to have this presence as an older player, but yet the humility of the new and younger player, knowing that he has a lot to prove."

Daniels isn't at the facility just to be there, either. He's using the extra time to focus on things he feels need to be fine-tuned. And what all does entail? Well, everything.

"Playbook, timing up the drops with the concepts," Daniels said. "Just expanding my football knowledge to go out there so I can finish off minicamp strong. Go back, put in the work and you know, get ready for training camp to come out here and help the team get better in any way possible."

It's clear that extra work led to more results at LSU. He had the best seasons of his college career in Baton Rouge, amassing 6,625 yards with 57 passing touchdowns and a 70.4% completion rate.

Neither Daniels nor his coaches have put any expectations on his rookie season, but there is certainly hope that he can create a similar level of excitement in the NFL through his extra preparations.

"The work that you put in is the work that you're going to give out," Daniels said. "If you really want to be successful, you want to learn, you want to be a pro at the highest level, you got to take knowledge of people, learn from their routines."

Daniels knows that as hard as he worked at LSU, he still needs to be doing more in the NFL. Like his veteran teammates, Daniels wants to have a long career, and with the level of competition being raised even higher than the standards in the SEC, the efforts he put into being named a Heisman Trophy winner will not be enough to reach his goals in the professional ranks.

So, Daniels is still working on how he will update his routine. His teammates are still impressed with him.

"He does everything you want out of your No. 2 overall pick rookie quarterback,' Allen said. "So, I'm excited to see him work, excited to see him play."

All the extra work Daniels has put in is what veterans like Wagner love to see.

"Just somebody that wants it," Wagner said. "And he's definitely that guy."

And Daniels is showing the right attitude about his situation.

"I ain't a star quarterback yet," Daniels said. "I got a long way to go."

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