Ron Rivera and the rest of the Washington Commanders coaching staff cut the team's 80-man roster down to 53 on Tuesday, making some difficult decisions among a number of position groups that featured tough battles throughout camp.
One of those "not easy" groups, according to Rivera, was the cornerbacks. The head coach was pleased with how rookie Christian Holmes rose to the occasion and fought his way onto the roster.
"Right away when you get the late-round picks, a lot of the time you try and slide them by and get them on practice squad. He had a really strong camp, he really did," Rivera said. "He did a lot of good things and showed his worth very quickly. I think he is a guy that I'm not going to necessarily say surprised, but a guy that worked, to answer the question. He did work himself on to the roster."
Special teams offered a chance for fringe guys to show their overall value, and defensive end Shaka Toney seized his opportunity when called upon. Rivera praised Toney's "really strong finish" to camp.
"He really did some good things working on special teams. Still has a ways to go and some things to learn, but just his effort overall was really terrific," Rivera said. "It was exciting to watch him really progress and step up."
Another key contributor on special teams who Rivera lauded for his camp performance was Milo Eifler. On defense, the second-year linebacker also demonstrated his abilities to make big plays in space.
"His speed really stood out amongst the linebackers. He runs well. He runs like Jamin [Davis]. He runs like Cole [Holcomb]," Rivera said. "I think Milo just earned that spot."
One of the most feel-good stories of the initial 53-man roster is that of Jeremy Reaves. Wednesday marked the first time the 2018 undrafted free agent made the initial 53-man roster out of camp. Reaves lost his mom last season and has stated how she is his "why" for playing football.
"We were sitting down, and all of these coaches felt that this guy came, played, did the things that he needed to do, showed us what he is capable of," Rivera said. "He is a guy that earned his spot. I'm very proud of him."
And while many fates are sealed at the end of this emotional day, there is still a few days for adjustments to be made.
"We have time. That's all I'll say," Rivera said. "We have some things that we have to work through as far as I talked about. Just getting the evaluations."
The Washington Commanders have released their initial 53-man roster for the 2022 season. Here are all the players who made the cut. (Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
Here's a morning roundup of what the local and national media have to say about the Washington Commanders on Wednesday, August 31, 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 Times' Matthew Paras writes about the still-evolving cornerback situation for the Commanders.
- NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux writes about punt, kick return duties as the initial roster is released.
- NBC Sports Washington's Pete Hailey reports on how the Robinson tragedy affected running back decisions.
- The Washington Post's Sam Fortier keeps track of all the reports surrounding the Commanders' final roster decisions.
- The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala and Peter Hermann reports on the status of Brian Robinson.
- The Washington Times' Matthew Paras writes about Brian Robinson being in stable condition.
- NBC Sports Washington's Peter Hailey answers questions from his weekly mailbag.
- NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux reports on players reacting to the news about Brian Robinson.
- The Athletic's Ben Standig writes about Brian Robinson's status after shooting.
- The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala writes about Jeff Zgonina's passion for dog shows.
- The Washington Post's Sam Fortier writes that for some players, the final preseason game is like the Super Bowl.
- The Washington Time's Matthew Paras writes about the Ravens' preseason record.
- The Washington Time's Matthew Paras also writes about Commanders players on the roster bubble.
- NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux writes about Commanders players being confident ahead of the final preseason game.
- NBC Sports Washington's Bijan Todd writes about Antonio Gibson as the Commanders' kickoff returner.
- The Athletic's Ben Standig looks at some of the positions with players hoping to make the roster.
- NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux writes about the return of OG Wes Martin.