The pads were on for the Washington Commanders' Tuesday practice, and while the usual clack of the helmets was subdued by the Guardian caps, there was still a buzz of excitement that filled the air surrounding the practice field.
The defense, particularly the secondary, was the clear winner of Monday's practice, as the defensive backs picked up five interceptions. Today, things were more balanced, particularly in the final session of the day, when the running backs were finding a lot of open lanes.
Tuesday also saw the return of one-on-one matchups pitting the defensive line against the offensive line and the receivers against the defensive backs. Let's dive into some of the observations from the morning.
-- We'll start things off at the end of practice since, as mentioned before, the running backs were having plenty of success in the final team session of the day. J.D. McKissic and Antonio Gibson found room down the middle of the defense, while Jaret Patterson and Brian Robinson attacked the outside. Patterson hit a big hole down the left sideline and was pushed out by Darrick Forrest for a 15-yard gain. The expectation was for the offensive line to have more success on the ground with pads allowing them to be more physical, and as a result, the blocks and running lanes looked much more clean.
-- After working through individual drills, the skill players and defensive backs met for one-on-one drills. Many of the familiar faces performed well with Terry McLaurin opening things up by getting a completion against Kendall Fuller. Dyami Brown grabbing a pass against William Jackson III also breezed past Christian Holmes on a go route for a completion. Another player who stood out was Cam Sims, who made all three of his catches.
-- We got another look at Jahan Dotson’s connection with Carson Wentz during seven-on-seven drills when he hit the rookie receiver on back-to-back throws of 20-plus yards. Dotson praised Wentz during his availability with the media, saying that Wentz is a tremendous leader.
-- While the skill players were going through seven-on-seven drills, the offensive and defensive linemen were going through pass-rush drills. Of defense, Jonathan Allen stood out among the rest with an impressive bull rush on Andrew Norwell. Second-round pick Phidarian Mathis also flashed in the middle, and Montez Sweat was as quick as expected. On offense, Charles Leno had an exceptional kick step, while Sam Cosmi did a good job of keeping himself between the defender and the quarterback.
-- There were a couple impressive pass breakups during team drills from Fuller and Bobby McCain. The first was against Sims, who nearly had a spectacular grab near the sideline but couldn't haul it in. The play got a lot of praise from defensive backs coach Chris Harris. The next was McCain popping the ball from Cole Turner before the tight end went to the ground.
Here are a few smaller notes from the day:
-- David Bada had a strong performance during pass-rush drills. Washington is looking for a fourth defensive tackle, and moments like that should allow the International Pathway Player to make his case.
-- Casey Toohill laid a hit on Gibson that would have been a tackle for a loss during team drills.
-- Dotson has learned a lot from watching McLaurin in practice. He said McLaurin approaches the game like a professional every day and doesn't take plays off. It's provided a solid guide for the rookie as he learns more about the NFL.