The Washington Commanders' offensive line has already gone through several changes to start the season, and it is about to see another one.
Saahdiq Charles, a fourth-round pick by Washington in 2020, was named the starting right guard by head coach Ron Rivera during Monday's press conference following the team's 25-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Charles replaced veteran guard Trai Turner, who Rivera said "isn't quite where he needs to be yet," on the third possession of the game ended up playing in 85% of the offensive snaps.
It is an opportunity for Charles to prove he can be the starter that the team envisioned he could be when it drafted him out of LSU, and offensive coordinator Scott Turner believes he will deliver.
"Saadiq brings some athleticism," Turner said Thursday. "I don't know if you noticed them on some of those screens, you know, getting out, doing a nice job on those."
It was hard not to notice how well Charles moves in space. On a second-and-22 at the Commanders' 44-yard line, Charles leveled Anthony Barr on a screen pass intended for Antonio Gibson, clearing the way for the running back to scamper forward for an 11-yard gain.
"The guy was just waiting for me there, and I made the block," Charles said after Wednesday's practice.
Charles' first season was marred by a calf injury kept him out of the first five games. He was named a starter for his NFL debut against the New York Giants, but a dislocated knee cap on the second play of the game led to him being placed on Injured Reserve. Charles was inactive for the first four games of the season before returning to the field against the New Orleans Saints.
Charles received his second career start against the Denver Broncos in Week 8 of that season and was later placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. He saw action in Weeks 12-17, including three straight starts against the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.
Charles played at guard and tackle during his time as a backup, and that position flexibility increased his value on the team.
"He's a versatile player," Turner said. "He's played and kind of played well for the spots and then he's had an injury or something, something where he gets dinged up."
With the Commanders' offensive line depth being tested already, the offense will need Charles to play well. His first test as a starter this season will be a Tennessee Titans defensive line that features Jeffrey Simmons, Denico Autry and Bud Dupree. It is a tough challenge, but Charles should have plenty of opportunities to deliver more hits like he did on Barr.
"I anticipate he'll be able to stay healthy and he'll play well," Turner said. "I thought he did a nice job when he got in there for the most part against Dallas."
Here's a morning roundup of what the local and national media have to say about the Washington Commanders on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. All reports, rumors and conjecture are a reflection of the media conversation and are not endorsed or confirmed by the Washington Commanders.
The reports and deals expressed in this article have not been confirmed by Washington, nor do they reflect any insider information from anyone in the front office.
- The Washington Post's Sam Fortier writes about the Commanders' issues with play action.
- NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux writes about the Commanders trying to stop Derrick Henry.
- NBC Sports Washington's Peter Hailey looks at Saahdiq Charles starting at right guard.
- The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala writes about Brian Robinson Jr.'s comeback.
- ESPN's John Keim also writes about Robinson's return to the practice field.
- NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux writes about Carson Wentz's perspective following the Commanders three-game skid.
- USA Today's Ivan Lambert reports on the Commanders adding depth to the offensive line.
- NBC Sports Washington's Bijan Todd writes about updates on Jahan Dotson and Chase Young.
- NBC Sports Washington's Peter Hailey writes about the Commanders' rankings in certain stat categories.
- The Athletic's Ben Standig writes about the Commanders' progress, setbacks
- The Washington Times' Matthew Paras writes about the Commanders' running game.
- The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala reports on injury updates.
- The Richmond-Times Dispatch's Michael Philips writes about Rivera's perspective after going 1-3.
Check Out What's On Commanders.com:
- Wayne Rooney, Ron Rivera chat about player management, coaching perspectives
- Practice report | Daron Payne, Commanders defense ready for challenge of stopping Derrick Henry
- Wentz 'confident' offense can get back on track against Titans defense
- Brian Robinson reflects on recovery, return to practice
- Practice report | Inside Brian Robinson's first day back at practice
- Commanders vs. Titans preview | An AFC South showdown
- Brian Robinson designated to return to practice
- Commanders strive for sustainability after struggles with penalties
- 'I got another day to impact someone’s life’: Commanders High School Coach of the Week honoree James Ford is a role model, fighter
- 5 takeaways from Washington's matchup with Dallas
- Commanders-Cowboys Stats & Snaps
- Instant Analysis | Commanders struggle to gain momentum in 25-10 loss to Dallas
- 3 numbers to know from Washington's Week 4 loss