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Jayden Daniels looks the part in first practice of rookie minicamp


We've waited for weeks to see Jayden Daniels -- and the rest of the rookie class -- on a football field in a Washington Commanders uniform. Yes, it was in shorts with no contact, and no, nothing we saw in the practice bubble during the first day of rookie minicamp will have any bearing on what happens during the regular season in -- checks calendar -- four months.

It was the start of the deliberate march to the season opener, though, and throw out as many dismissive comments as you want, but Daniels looked the part in his first practice wearing burgundy and gold.

"He's a stud," Luke McCaffrey said of Daniels after practice.

Let's dive into some of the action.

-- Practice started a little differently than the contingent of media members on the sideline, which was significantly larger than normal, has been used to in previous years. After the team finished their stretches, they all sprinted over to the coaching staff, where there was a line of bags waiting for them on the ground. The players sprinted through them with the coaches cheering them on. Second-round pick Mike Sainristil said it was "pre-practice competition."

"Just getting some juice in the air. That's all it was."

-- Daniels was praised for his poise and footwork during the pre-draft process. Granted, Daniels didn't face anything resembling a live pass rush, but both were on display as he went through individual drills. On one drill, he dropped back, slid to his right before cutting back to his left and completing a pass to an assistant coach downfield.

-- There's not much to learn from seven-on-seven drills during rookie minicamp, considering it's the first time that players -- many of whom are tryout players -- are learning the system, but it is the first time we get to see the draft class in something resembling an actual football play. For what it's worth, Daniels looked like...well, the No. 2 overall pick. He calmly surveyed his options and delivered quick strikes to his receivers, going a perfect 12-for-12 on his throws. Here's who he targeted when he was in the pocket.

  • WR Luke McCaffery: three times
  • RB Michael Wiley: two times
  • TE Ben Sinnott
  • WR Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint: two times
  • WR Brycen Tremayne
  • TE Colson Yankoff
  • RB Austin Jones
  • WR Nico Ragaini

-- Also, speaking of Rosemy-Jacksaint, the undrafted wideout made the catch of the day with a one-handed leaping grab on a pass from Daniels. The Commanders need depth at receiver, and Rosemy-Jacksaint might be a name to watch in August.

-- As the Commanders reported Thursday night, Daniels will be wearing No. 5, which was previously worn by Pro Bowl punter Tress Way. Daniels addressed the decision at the start of his press conference, expressing how appreciative he was of Way giving him the number.

"It's significant, not only to me, but to him also. Him allowing me to wear it, it meant a lot that he was able to pass it to me...with some agreements. He didn't have to come off the number. He's a captain, Pro Bowl player. He means a lot to the DMV, to this organization. For him to allow me to be able to wear a number just shows that he has my back."

-- Daniels is just now getting exposed to the Commanders' new playbook. Friday was the first day of installation, and Daniels wants to take things one day at a time until he's comfortable with the system. Daniels is known for his intense study habits, so we can be confident that he's going to commit himself to the process in the coming weeks.

-- Daniels wasn't the only rookie who stood out during practice. Third-round pick McCaffrey showed off impressive footwork and hands, catching every pass thrown his way. McCaffrey was a quarterback himself, and he feels like that experience absolutely helps him establish an early connection with Daniels.

"It's a position that's hard to understand unless you've played it," McCaffrey said. "The biggest thing I've noticed is the communication aspect. You speak the same language...and that's something going into rookie minicamp you try and get a head start on, because it's a brand new language, a brand new system."

-- On defense, Sainristil was praised for his versatility at Michigan. He's been thrown right into learning the defensive playbook so he can add that position flexibility to Washington's defensive backfield, but he doesn't sound too worried about learning the scheme.

"Just learning the new language. I think that's really it."

-- Sinnott said after practice that he's blessed to be with the Commanders learning from his teammates and coaches. With offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, Sinnott has been impressed with his approach. "He loves the game, wants us to win," Sinnott said.

-- Second-round pick Jer'Zhan Newton did not practice but was on the sideline in a walking boot. Newton had surgery for a Jones fracture in his foot and is still going through the recovery process.

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