The Washington Commanders just wrapped up Wednesday's OTA as they roll through Phase 3 of the offseason workout program. Here are some observations from the practice:
- First-round pick Jahan Dotson continues to make strides in practice, and he had several impressive catches throughout the morning. He started with a snag during individual drills, and then he added another for a touchdown during team drills after Carson Wentz threaded his pass between two defenders. He also added a handful of grabs in the middle of the field during blitz period.
- Speaking of Wentz, the veteran quarterback has been leaving positive impressions on his teammates and coaches. After practice, J.D. McKissic said Wentz has been picking up the offense quickly, and Scott Turner said there aren't any limitations to what he can do directing the offense. Turner and Ron Rivera envision the offense taking another step with Wentz leading the unit, particularly when it comes to stretching the field vertically.
- Chase Young was at practice today, although he's still got a long road before he makes it back to the field. He's still recovering from his knee injury, but while he's on the mend, he wants to cheer on his teammates and help them as much as possible. While there's no timetable on when his return will be, Rivera does like seeing him at the team facility.
- The offense got things started off well during team drills, as Antonio Gibson cut through a gaping hole made by the offensive line, planted his foot and turned upfield for a sizable gain. In fairness, there's not much the defense can do in such a controlled setting, but it is a positive sign that the offensive line, which has two new starters in Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner, is already working cohesively.
- The play was a win for the offense, but the defense, particularly Montez Sweat, provided something of an answer. Sweat blew past Sam Cosmi with a spin move and got in Wentz's face. The play ended with a dump off to Curtis Hodges, but it's important to remember that had Sweat been playing at full speed, it would have been a sack.
- A couple other defensive linemen had some standout moments during team drills. James Smith-Williams knocked a pass from Wentz to the ground, while rookie Phidarian Mathis broke through the line of scrimmage with two offensive linemen draped on him. The Commanders need their depth to step up now that Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis are on different teams, so it's encouraging to see the former second- and seventh-round picks contributing.
- Cole Turner is another player who has impressed his coaches in recent weeks. That has a lot to do with his size and catch radius; Turner stands at 6-foot-6, and he's able to haul in a wide variety of passes. That makes him an easy target for quarterback, Scott Turner said, and they're excited about what he can add to the offense.
- Bobby McCain had some high praise for Cole Holcomb after practice, saying that the linebacker is one of the best he's played with. That echoes much of what Holcomb's other teammates and coaches have professed about the fourth-year pro. He's taken a step up as the middle linebacker, and he intends to take control of the defense this season.
- Scott Turner also had an update on backup and fifth-round pick Sam Howell, who has been working behind Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. Howell has done a good job of retaining the playbook, Turner said, and he's learned a lot over the past two weeks. It's too soon to say when Howell will be ready to help the team on the field, especially with Wentz and Heinicke in front of him, but the team is excited about what he could become in the future.