3 concerning developments at Commanders training camp
2. Who will fill in across from Montez Sweat?
With Chase Young expected to miss the first couple of games for the Commanders, Washington needs the players behind him to step up.
Unfortunately, no players have stood out early in training camp. James Smith-Williams was the first to get a crack opposite of Montez Sweat. Nothing noteworthy came of that and Smith-Williams is currently working back from a hip injury. Smith-Williams is better against the run, so it would be beneficial if Washington did not need to rely on him as a pass-rusher.
Casey Toohill, the other veteran in Washington’s room, has gotten some run as well there. Again, Toohill isn’t standing out very much. It is worth noting that both of these players are going up against Charles Leno and Sam Cosmi, two players who are capable starters in the NFL.
Ron Rivera likes the experience both gained playing full-time snaps in the absence of both Montez Sweat and Chase Young last year. To feel comfortable with them though, showing steps forward in the preseason will be needed.
Montez Sweat has been dominant in training camp but he has been inconsistent winning as a number one pass-rusher in the league. His best year in the NFL is by far his second season, where he totaled 49 pressures while playing a full season with Chase Young.
Sweat could still take that next step in year four, and with a potential contract extension looming, he may be in store for a breakout season. Charles Leno said that Sweat has added more pass-rushing moves to his tool belt.
However, it will become a much harder accomplishment for him to achieve reaching that next echelon with the current state of things opposite him.
The optimistic outlook is Chase Young makes it back in mid-September. The pessimistic outlook is that Young isn’t back until Halloween, with a likelihood that he is back somewhere in between. That is at least 4-6 games Young will miss, nearly 33% of the season.
Smith-Williams, Toohill, and Obada are not reprehensible depth on paper. All three have filled in nicely when their number is called upon. All three remain unproven in a full-time capacity and probably are best suited as quality rotational depth pieces on a week-to-week basis.
With Montez Sweat still unproven as a dominant force, Washington’s ability to generate pressure from the edge could be severely hindered until Young returns. If nobody in the room proves anything when the lights turn on in the preseason, this may become a problem in the early portion of the season.