Surprise wide receiver pushing for roster spot at Commanders OTAs?

Jun 3, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marken Michel (80) catches the ball during minicamp at Novacare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marken Michel (80) catches the ball during minicamp at Novacare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The conclusion of Washington Commanders‘ OTAs truly couldn’t come at a better time after Wednesday’s finale.

What a finale it was, as Jack Del Rio quickly became the talk of the NFL after he defended his insensitive remarks comparing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to the civil unrest and countrywide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The end of OTAs gives the Commanders a needed five-day break before mandatory minicamp gets underway next week. Hopefully the break takes some heat away from the franchise. As for Del Rio, he deserves whatever comes his way after he didn’t walk back his comments and issued what read like a forced apology.

Before Del Rio stole the show, the Commanders engaged in their final set of OTA practices from Monday to Wednesday. We already dove into some of the bigger takeaways, but another nearly got swept under the rug amid the JDR uproar.

According to Pete Hailey of NBC Sports Washington, wideout Marken Michel has impressed over the last few practices. A former Eagles practice squad stash, Washington signed Michel to a reserve/future contract in January.

Is overlooked WR Marken Michel pushing for a spot on the Commanders’ roster after he impressed at OTAs?

Here’s what Hailey said of Michel, who has emerged as backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s favorite target on the second-team offense.

"“(Carson)Wentz’s seamless connection with Jahan Dotson stood out just like it has at previous OTAs, while Heinicke and Marken Michel were dicing up the backups together. Michel thrived without McLaurin or Samuel in the lineup. There could be a path for some unknown receiver to sneak onto the bottom of that section of the depth chart, and Michel is doing what he can to make his case.”"

The brother of now-Dolphins running back Sony Michel, the elder Michel, who just celebrated his 28th birthday on June 6, joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of UMass in 2016. After getting waived by Minnesota, Michel signed for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League as a free agent.

Not one to give up on his NFL dreams, Michel has since bounced between the Panthers (post-Ron Rivera) and the Eagles. He rejoined Philly last preseason, but failed to make it beyond the final round of roster cuts and was waived.

From there, Michel was signed to Washington’s practice squad in September and inked a reserve/future contract after the season. The fact he’s lasted this long suggests the coaching staff has taken a shine to the 28-year-old.

At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds soaking wet, there’s nothing about Michel that sticks out, but he’s fantastic creating for himself after the catch and is quicker and stronger in the open field than his measureables would suggest.

The Commanders wide receiver room is the deepest its been in years, but it’s extremely top heavy with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown expected to fill the top four spots. While Cam Sims should assume the WR5 role, there might be an opening for an overlooked receiver to stake their claim for a spot on the 53-man roster.

It’s only June so we won’t get too ahead of ourselves, but it seems like Michel is sticking out amongst his peers at the bottom of the depth chart. Given the lack of clarity beyond the Commanders’ top five pass-catchers, this is definitely something to monitor during mandatory minicamp and training camp.

Next. Ron Rivera downplays Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson injuries. dark