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Hail Mail | X-factors and sleepers on defense


We're about a week into the Washington Commanders' training camp, and there is a lot to talk about. 

There are still weeks until the Commanders take the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 11, but we're starting to get a look at what the team will look like for the 2022 season.  

We have plenty to address, so let's dive right into it and get to what Commanders fans want to know this week. 

-- Thomas A.: Thoughts on Cam Sims this season and all the other WR in that group? 

Cam Sims has been a quiet, but reliable player through the first six practices, which is what we've come to expect from the former undrafted free agent. Today might have been his best performance so far, as he made all his catches in one-on-one drills and nearly had an incredible snag in 11-on-11 drills. 

In terms of the rest of the receivers, I think it's as deep as it was last season, even with Curtis Samuel on and off the field. Of the players at the bottom of the position who are vying for a spot, Dax Milne and Alex Erickson have stood out the most to me with Jequez Ezzard occasionally flashing on plays. The Commanders kept seven receivers in 2021, and it wouldn't surprise me if they did so again. 

-- Will D.: Which rookie will have a bigger impact on the 2022 season: Brian Robinson or Cole Turner? 

I love this question, because it pits my two favorite draft picks against each other. Based on the last few days, I would say Cole Turner. He has become quite the target for Carson Wentz with three touchdowns during red zone drills. Brian Robinson will be big for the ground game and allow the players around him to thrive, but with Logan Thomas on the mend with no clear timetable on a return, we could be seeing a lot of Turner to start the year.

-- Rob T.: Who will be the sleeper or X-factor for the defense this season?

I'm going to cheat a little bit and give you an answer for both, because carry a different meaning. For a sleeper, I'm going with Khaleke Hudson. The 2020 draft pick took advantage of his past opportunities to get in the lineup, and he's been making plays during camp so far. With the linebacker depth being thin, the defense is going to need him to step up.

As for an X-factor, I think Jamin Davis is the correct answer. There should be growth in Year 2, and he's shown moments where he can be a playmaker on the outside. We need to see it in a game, though, and he needs to be consistent as he gets more time with the starters.

-- Jonathan P.: Who do you think will take over kickoff and punt return duties now that Carter has moved on?

This question has been on my mind a lot recently, and I'll admit I'm torn on who it will be. My guy tells me that it will either by Erickson, Milne or Jahan Dotson. I know it's a risk putting a first-round pick back there, but Dotson has a history of returning punts at Penn State with 19 attempts for 338 yards and a touchdown. I feel stronger about Milne or Erickson taking the role, though. To me, It'll come down to who earns that final roster spot at receiver.

-- Darren M.: How is Saahdiq Charles coming along and do you ever see him starting in the future?

Saahdiq Charles has gotten a lot of starting action through a combination of veteran off days and players rehabbing on the side field. He's handled his own and seems like he's grown as a pass-rusher. The starting lineup is pretty much set for the year (the only exception being the right guard spot), but I could see him starting in place of a guard or tackle at some point in the season for a game or two. There was a lot of rotation at offensive line last season, so it realistic to believe that could happen again.

-- Andre D.: How many total yards do you think Terry and Curtis will have together?

This is a tough question to answer since we haven't seen much of Samuel so far in camp. I will say, however, that he looks athletic when he is on the field. Samuel was unfortunately a non-factor in 2021 because of injury, leaving his and Terry McLaurin’s total yardage at 1,103 yards. I believe they'll hit the over on that, but I honestly can't give a more specific answer until I see more of Samuel on the field.

Here's a couple fun questions:

-- Ethan H.: If you could be any color power ranger, which color would you be?

According to this Buzzfeed quiz, my personality matches the Black Ranger, which is what my first choice would have been anyway.

-- Izzy H.: What do you like about writing for the Commanders?

I've always loved telling athletes' stories and helping fans get to know them off the field. Athletes are people, too, which is something I feel can get lost in all they do during games on Sundays. If someone reads my content and learns a little more about their favorite players, I consider that a job well done.

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