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Training camp notebook, Day 3 | Kam Curl wants defense to start fast in 2023

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Kamren Curl has high expectations for the Washington Commanders' defense in 2023. He wants them to be a top five unit for the third time in four seasons, create more turnovers and give the offense more opportunities to score. 

Those are respectable goals, and the defense has accomplished all three of them at various points. Doing so at the beginning of seasons has been more difficult, and Curl is determined to help change that in his fourth season. 

"We gotta emphasize starting fast," Curl told reporters. "Just put it in the back of your head, being the first snap of the game, first snap of the season. Just put more of an emphasis on it."

Curl doesn't know why the defense got off to slow starts in previous years, but it certainly has been a problem. Over the last three years, the Commanders allowed an average of 344.3 yards per game through the first eight games of each season. As a result, they have a combined record of 8-15 in that portion of the season.

The good news is that Washington finds a way to bounce back. The defense allowed less than 300 yards in four of the final eight games, and that includes holding the Houston Texans to 148 total yards in Week 11. Curl is confident the Commanders will get more performances like that earlier in the year, and that is a credit to how comfortable he and his teammates are in the system.

"It feels like we're more experienced," Curl said. "It's our fourth year in the system, so everybody feels more comfortable...knowing what our job is, knowing every role everybody has."

Judging by how Curl played on Day 3 of camp, he's backing that claim up. He had a pass breakup working against Jahan Dotson, and he grabbed Sam Howell’s first interception of camp in 7-on-7 drills.

"I just had to go make a play," Curl said.

Commanders fans are hoping he does plenty of that in Year 4. Let's take a look at some more highlights from practice.

-- It was another defensively dominated day for the Commanders, and that started early with Cody Barton grabbing his first interception of camp. Jacoby Brissett threw the ball straight at Barton, so perhaps there was a miscommunication between him and Alex Armah. Either way, the error resulted in Barton running the opposite direction towards the end zone.

-- Another interception almost came from Jonathan Allen, who reached his hand up to bat down Howell's pass. He almost tipped the ball to himself, but he couldn't quite secure it and settled for an incompletion.

-- Efe Obada has had a solid camp so far and had another strong day by working through some shoves by Sam Cosmi to put pressure on Howell. Plays like that are a reminder that Washington's defensive front is one of the deepest positions on the roster.

-- Oh, and by the way, Kevin Durant showed up to watch practice today. Durant, who is from the DMV, grew up a Washington fan and still supports the team. Head coach Ron Rivera said after practice that he appreciated having the former NBA champion and MVP.

"It's great to have KD here. I know he is a local guy. I know how much of a Washington Redskins/Commanders fan he is. Great to have his support … To have guys like KD come back and show their support means an awful lot to us."

-- Run plays were heavily featured in the script for the first time in this year's camp, and players like Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson got to show off their ability to run through traffic. It's difficult to get a true evaluation of running plays without pads, so we'll get a better idea of where the run game is when the pads come on Tuesday.

-- With that said, a few offensive linemen stood out because of how they moved through the Commanders' defensive front to get to their assignments. For example, Chris Paul managed to chip the defensive tackle before effectively cutting off a linebacker.

-- Chase Young continues to show that he is completely healthy entering the 2023 season. On one particular play, he blew by Charles Leno with ease and would have gotten a sack in a game scenario.

-- Dyami Brown was a standout at camp once again. His connection with Howell has shined on several plays, particularly on down the field throws. That was the case after Howell's interception, when he connected with Brown a pass that was completed near the end zone.

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