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OTA notebook | Jayden Daniels 'intentional in everything he does'


It's still early as the Washington Commanders begin diving into the new offensive and defensive systems, but Jayden Daniels is already starting to make an impression on his coaches.

"He's intentional in everything he does, which I like," offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said after practice. "That's what we had heard about him coming up, and that's what he's been since he's been here."

Daniels is months away from making his professional debut in September. He's not officially named the starting quarterback, although the belief is that he'll be ready to take on that role soon. The Commanders are slow playing his development, insisting that he'll be under center when the time is right.

For now, his goals are simple: learn as much as possible and get adjusted to the NFL. Kingsbury has seen him embrace both in their short time together.

"We've only had him a couple days, but he works really hard at it," Kingsbury said of his quarterback.

Fans and media have already seen glimpses of Daniels' work ethic. He was consistently praised for his improvement year to year at Arizona State and LSU -- something that stood out to Kingsbury on film as a sign that he was putting in the work. Little stock should be put in the non-contact drills that were run during rookie minicamp, but Daniels looked the part as a No. 2 pick, showing poise and command as he went 12-for-12 on throws in seven-on-seven drills.

There's a reason why Daniels looks so comfortable in practice, despite being only a few days into learning the system; he has a plan for everything.

"He has a plan for studying. He has a plan for practice. He has a plan for watching film," Kingsbury said. "He knows what he wants to be and where he wants to go. To be that young and come in there with that mindset is really encouraging."

Kingsbury has been a fan of Daniels for years going back to his days at Arizona State when he beat Oregon as a true freshman. He didn't have the final say in who the Commanders picked at No. 2, but he was "along for the ride" as Adam Peters and Dan Quinn went to Daniels' pro day at LSU.

It was ultimately Peters' call, but Kingsbury was a fan of the decision. After seeing what Daniels has done over the past week, he still is.

"He [Peters] had a feel for it," Kingsbury said. "And I felt very strongly as well, so it worked out."

Here are some more observations from practice:

-- No one should crown Daniels for getting 12 consecutive completions during his first practice, and they shouldn't freak out about his first interception. His first pass of seven-on-seven drills was slightly overthrown and picked off by James Pierre, causing a celebration on the defensive sideline. Daniels shrugged off the mistake and delivered three darts to his targets: one to Davion Davis and two to Brycen Tremayne.

-- Zach Ertz has been around several talented quarterbacks in his 12 seasons, and while they haven't spent much time together, he can already tell how unique Daniels is as a player.

"Right off the bat, you can tell he's an extremely talented player. It kind of jumps out at you when you're on the field with him. The arm talent is there. But also, he really, really cares about this thing. He wants to be as good as he can possibly be. He's working his butt off. I know he's doing a lot behind the scenes to make himself as prepared as possible."

-- The seven-on-seven period was split into two sections. Daniels and fellow rookie Sam Hartman were on one end with Marcus Mariota and Jeff Driskell on the other. Mariota has been praised by the coaches for his veteran experience, and it came through several times in practice. One of the best examples was on a pass to Jahan Dotson, ripping the ball between two defenders.

-- Pierre wasn't the only defensive back who got in on the fun. Anthony Pittman picked off a pass from Mariota later in the day. Noah Igbinoghene nearly repeated the feat a few plays later, and Jeremy Chinn snagged a pass from Mariota near the end of the day.

-- Aside from Daniels, wide receiver Luke McCaffrey has been one of the most interesting players to watch in practice. His route running, hands and quickness have all been on display, and he had the catch of the day on a deep shot from Driskell, who slung the ball near the end zone for the rookie to slide underneath for the catch.

-- Finally, in non-quarterback news, Kingsbury has been a fan of how running backs Brian Robinson and Austin Ekeler have worked together so far.

"They really complement each other well. They feed off each other, and we're really excited about that room."

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