Things are going to be a little different for Sam Cosmi as he enters his second season in the NFL.
For one, he no longer has to earn a role on the Washington Commanders' offensive line. He made the point that he belongs in the starting lineup, and despite missing eight games with injury, he was the team's third-best run-blocker, according to Pro Football Focus.
Cosmi will also have a new teammate holding down the right side of the offensive line now that Brandon Scherff has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two months after Scherff departed, the Commanders replaced one Pro Bowler with another by adding eight-year veteran Trai Turner, who has slid in as the team's starting right guard.
It hasn't taken long for Turner to develop a rapport with the rest of the unit.
"I love Trai. Trai's a great guy," Cosmi told reporters after last Wednesday's OTA. "We click real well. The chemistry is there."
Chemistry was never a problem for the Commanders' front last year in spite of all the different combinations that were featured last season. The offensive line dealt with multiple injuries -- they had to play with their third-string center for an extended period -- and the position was still one of the best in terms of ESPN's pass-block and run-block win rate.
Turner, who played six seasons for the Carolina Panthers, doesn't have much experience playing alongside the Commanders' offensive linemen -- the only exception being fellow guard Andrew Norwell -- but his previous knowledge of offensive line coach John Matsko’s system has allowed him to jump right into the mix.
"The biggest thing about Trai is it kind of solidifies the fact that we have 10 guys that we really believe are guys that can give us that veteran experience. Again, one of the things that we try to do is we want to make sure if we're gonna be strong, we gotta make sure we stay strong and that's having good depth on the offensive line."
The Washington Commanders begin their final week of Phase 3 before the start of mandatory minicamp. Check out the best photos from Monday's OTA. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
Turner offers more than just depth, though. He was voted to the Pro Bowl for five consecutive seasons, and that expertise has been obvious to Cosmi over the last two weeks.
"He's honed into his craft," Cosmi said. "Every step, every punch he takes, he's really locked in, and I love that."
Offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who worked with Trai at Carolina, knows the kind of player he's getting out of the All-Pro guard. He referred to Trai as a "physical" player who is highly accountable.
That's to be expected from a player who has worked under Matsko.
"He's a guy that I lean on heavily," Turner said of Matsko in 2020. "He's just a great coach and a great mentor to my career."
The duo of Cosmi and Scherff were one of the best at paving the way for running backs. Washington's backs averaged 4.53 adjusted line yards when running to the right, which was ranked seventh-best in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders.
It's a high standard, but at least Cosmi and Turner are already working well together.
"It's been a blessing just to have a guy like him," Cosmi said.