Mason Brooks is an undrafted free agent trying to make a name for himself at the Washington Commanders' training camp, but he is already making himself known to head coach Rivera with his positional versatility, knowledge of the game and toughness that elevates Washington's aching offensive line.
Training camp is a place of intense learning; players perfect their skills in through meticulous work in individual drills and go head-to-head with their teammates on a daily basis. While this means incredible excitement for players, coaches, and fans, it's layered with an inherently competitive nature.
"It's a dream come true to play in the NFL, but it comes with its own set of gambits of challenges," Brooks said.
Getting the coaches' attention can mean all the difference when it comes down to roster decisions. And while the pressure can easily mount on an undrafted free agent, Brooks has shown up and quickly shown his use to head coach Ron Rivera.
"He may not have started a lot, but he played a lot of football," Rivera said. "He's shown some position flexibility more so anything else, that's always something that we always feel is an important thing. There was a general toughness that we liked and that we thought, this is a guy that could come in and help us out. If you can get a guy like that as an undrafted free agent, you gotta see and take a shot."
Not only did Brooks start camp strong, but he's improved as the practices have become complete contact with equipment. His strength keeps him pushing forward in each block, even when going against defensive end Chase Young and the rest of the Commanders' talented defensive line.
During one of the first days in pads, Brooks had impressive back-to-back reps against Phidarian Mathis. He even drove Mathis into the ground on the second rep, which earned plenty of excitement from his fellow offensive linemen.
"It's a good opportunity to grow, get better, and learn," Brooks said. "I appreciate every opportunity I can get against the No. 1 D-line and really all our D-line. Every one of them top to bottom has deep move, pulls and different things in their bags. So, it's really good when you come out here and slow things down a little bit and work on your steps and your progression with these guys."
The Washington Commanders were back on the field from the second practice of Week 3. Check out the best photos from the action this morning.
On Day 12 of camp, Brooks consistently maintained power on the offensive line and showed how he can be an asset to the roster. His blocking aided quarterback Jake Fromm in executing passes to running backs and wide receivers.
"I like Coach \[Eric Bieniemy’s\] sense of urgency; I like that he holds us all accountable," Brooks said, "He keeps the guys on their toes, and we have a standard out here to uphold every day, and I like when we can meet those goals he sets for us."
Part of what makes Brooks play so cleanly is his field vision, which helps his ability to predict the defense's next move and be an even more significant asset as the quarterback tries to find receivers in the end zone.
Brooks' improvement through training camp indicates how much of an asset he could be going forward if he can earn a roster spot.
Brooks spent four years at Western Kentucky University, where he began as a left tackle before switching to right tackle for his last two seasons. He then transferred to the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, for his fifth year. During his time in both programs, he built up his strength as an adaptable player who can use that strength to switch among several positions depending on Washington's roster needs.
Brooks has shown his value at Commanders training camp. He's got the strength, the dream and the familial support behind him as his mom finds her way to the stands at several training camp practices.
"I love my mom. My family's super supportive, and they've been super supportive with me through this process," Brooks said. "To have your family around to support you, it's been a huge blessing to me."
A morning roundup of content from the Washington Commanders on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023.
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Check Out What's On Commanders.com:
- Joey Slye, Michael Badgley embracing kicker competition
- Training camp notebook, Day 12 | Bieniemy thinks 'the sky could be the limit' for Howell
- Training camp notebook, Day 11 | Commanders value versatility in backend of WR room
- Commanders release first 2023 unofficial depth chart
- Training camp notebook, Day 10 | Commanders begin prep for preseason opener
- Commanders sign CB Jace Whittaker, release G Keaton Sutherland
- Chris Rodriguez plans to stick to his identity
- Training camp notebook, Day 9 | Practice gets chippy to end Week 2
- Forbes sheds light on his 'good luck' chains
- Training camp notebook, Day 8 | Fuller has seen steady improvement from Forbes
- Chris Paul 'grateful' to compete for starting LG spot
- McLaurin explains benefits of improving his mental health
- Training camp notebook, Day 7 | Commanders defense dominates in second day of pads
- Sam Cosmi loving move to guard, feels more comfortable at the position