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Sam Cosmi embracing switch from tackle to guard


Sam Cosmi is one of just two players on the Washington Commanders' offensive line who started for the team last season, but the veteran is still going through significant changes heading into Year 3.

Cosmi, who was drafted by Washington as a second-round pick in 2021 to be the team's solution at right tackle, has been slid over to right guard as part of the team's effort to restructure the offensive line. It's not a position he's completely unfamiliar with -- he started at right guard for one game last season -- but it's still a shift from how he has played for most of his college and professional career.

Cosmi is approaching the change with a positive attitude, and he has high hopes for what he can achieve at the position.

"I told Coach, I said, 'Listen, coming into the year, wherever you feel I'm going to be the best at, and wherever the team needs me at, I'm going to be there and work my ass off every day and be the best person at that position,'" Cosmi said.

It is not uncommon in the NFL for tackles to make the change to guard. Sometimes the switch is necessary because of physical limitations, as it is standard for tackles to have longer arms than guards. Other times, it is simply because coaches believe a player's style would be better suited on the inside. Saahdiq Charles, for example, is another player on the Commanders' roster who was drafted as a tackle but ultimately ended up at guard.

The switch, however, is more nuanced than just moving to a different spot on the offensive line. Guards typically have to deal with more immediate contact compared to tackles. They also have to line up in a different stance that is more suited for playing against defensive tackles as opposed to defensive ends and outside linebackers.

So, in addition to his regular offseason workout routine, much of Cosmi's time has been spent adjusting to the demands of his new position.

"Just getting used to the instant contact versus the space you have at tackle," Cosmi said. "Those are the things I've been working on and also viewing tape on how some of the best guards play."

The Washington Commanders were back on the field on Wednesday for the second day of mandatory minicamp. Check out the top photos from the afternoon. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Adding to that is having to build a relationship with Andrew Wylie, who was signed away from the Kansas City Chiefs to be the Commanders' right tackle. In that regard, Wylie was an asset to Cosmi during OTAs and minicamp. He has experience starting at guard and tackle as well, and the two could often be seen on the sideline discussing the previous plays while the backups were on the field.

Based on how the two were able to pass off blitzes, it seems like their relationship is coming along well.

"He seems to really settle in really nicely working alongside Andrew," said coach Ron Rivera. "That was kind of cool to watch."

While his snaps at guard were limited in his only game starting at the position, there were enough positive plays in his 34 snaps that showed Cosmi could play well in the role. He received a pass-blocking grade of 77.6 from Pro Football Focus -- his second-best performance of the season in the category -- and only allowed one pressure.

PFF's Gordon McGuinness also listed Cosmi as one of his breakout candidates among third-year players.

"Playing more than 450 snaps in each of his first two seasons in the league, Cosmi has produced 70.0-plus PFF grades in both years," wrote McGuinness. "Most of his work so far has come at tackle, but there's nothing that we've seen to suggest that he won't be a success now that he's kicking inside to guard. He's graded higher as a run blocker than as a pass blocker in the NFL, so the position move should serve him well."

Playing tackle is still a possibility for Cosmi. The Commanders have dealt with several injuries on the offensive line for the past two seasons, so the team may need him to fill in at some point. That versatility is something Eric Bieniemy stressed when asked about his offensive linemen, saying that "these guys have to have the ability to have some position flex so they can go and line up and give us an opportunity if something was to happen."

But Bieniemy also wants to give his players the best opportunity to be successful, and Cosmi believes he can thrive at guard.

"I've always had good leverage," he said. "I'm strong. I can anchor down. I've been working on the timing … I feel really comfortable, and sometimes you just have a feeling."

His coaches have a good feeling about it, too.

"I think Sam Cosmi is a young man that's got an opportunity to really grow and show us what he's worth," Rivera said.

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