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Sam Cosmi loving move to guard, feels more comfortable at the position

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It's a good sign when a Pro Bowler pays you a complement, and that's what Sam Cosmi got from Daron Payne last week.  

"He's one of those guys that's pretty quick and agile," Payne told reporters July 28. "It's hard to do kind of some of the things that I like to do against him." 

We got to see what Payne was talking about during the first padded practice of the Washington Commanders' training camp. Payne rushed Cosmi's outside shoulder during 1-on-1 pass protection drills, and when he realized he couldn't get around the former second-round pick, he tried to cut back up field to the quarterback. Cosmi mirrored his actions to perfection, keeping himself between Payne and his goal to win the rep. 

Reps like that are evidence that Cosmi is handling himself just fine as Washington's starting right guard. This offseason is the first time that Cosmi has received extended reps at the position, and while there was a bit of a transition period, Cosmi feels confident in his new role. 

"I really have grasped the position," Cosmi said. "I really feel comfortable at the position right now. I could be irreplaceable between guard and tackle if they need me to."

The move to right guard was a chance for Cosmi to breathe new life into his young NFL career. He was solid enough as the Commanders' starting right tackle, but Rivera felt that his skill set would be better suited at guard, where Cosmi played briefly in 2022 against the New York Giants.

Cosmi was fine with that -- he said after the 2022 season was over that he just wanted some consistency for his role going forward -- but playing guard required a different style to what he's used in the first two seasons of his career.

At tackle, Cosmi was used to having more space going against defensive ends. Things happen more quickly at guard, though. "It's like constant boom," Cosmi said, and it's "a brawl" trying to handle his assignments. So, he spent the offseason working on his hand speed and physicality. He also made adjustments to his stance, which had to be narrower to accommodate for the position change.

Cosmi has played tackle for most of his playing career, and he excelled at the position. At the University of Texas, he was one of the most athletic ones of the past three decades. He received a relative athletic score of 9.99 out of 10.00, which ranked second among 1,143 players at the position since 1987.

And yet he still loves the fit at guard because it fits his style better.

"It's physical. That's why we play O-line," Cosmi said. "It's the physicality, to inflict pain in others when they don't want you to do that. I've really enjoyed it. Like I said, it really fits me and going forward, I just want to build on that and just make it something special."

The Washington Commanders were in pads for the first day of training camp. Check out the top photos from Tuesday's practice. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

The transition has gone the way Rivera hoped it would. Rivera wanted to see Cosmi use his athletic ability, power and strength to create running lanes in the middle of defenses. So far, that's exactly what Cosmi has done.

"We're all excited to watch him as he continues to grow and develop," Rivera said.

It also helps that Cosmi has Andrew Wylie, who has played in Eric Bieniemy’s system before and also made the transition between guard and tackle, to help him get a better grasp of the position. The two have spent time building their chemistry, and they're seen together on the sideline talking through different defensive looks.

Wylie, Cosmi said, has been a great addition.

"Andrew is my guy, we've gelled. It's a great connection between me and him. We're on the same page and in this short amount of time, which is hard to do. So being able to have him and him knowing this offense like he does, it just helps us be better and grow."

The Commanders are going to get a better idea of how Cosmi handles his new position over the next few weeks. With the team starting fully-padded practices on Tuesday, Cosmi and the rest of the offensive line will have more opportunities to show their physicality as they work on the ground game.

That has Cosmi psyched for the rest of camp.

"We all feel good, and we're firing off the ball," Cosmi said. "Everybody has the extra step today, and it's an exciting day for that reason. Putting pads on is real fun for sure."

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