3 things that’ll make preseason a roaring success for the Commanders
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Commanders kick off their preseason slate Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field against the Carolina Panthers. After a long, arduous offseason, live-action football is finally back in the nation’s capital. It was a long wait and fans can hardly contain their excitement, which speaks to why football is king.
Of course, some fans couldn’t care less about the preseason, but those that’ve been following Washington closely since OTAs, minicamp and now training camp are eager to see if camp darlings can translate their early success into a game setting and improve their chances of making the 53-man roster.
3 things that’ll make Commanders preseason a success
3. Carson Wentz Looks Comfortable
Ron Rivera revealed the starters will play between 15-20 snaps Saturday against Carolina, so fans should temper expectations for Wentz. Having said that, we’d like to see the quarterback show a semblance of comfortability in the new offense.
From calling audibles at the line of scrimmage, completing simple passes, fielding clean snaps and limiting mistakes, that’s all we need to see from Wentz. Depending on how many snaps he plays over the three games, we’d obviously like to see some big-time completions but we’ll expand the goal posts if need be.
Preseason isn’t the time for starting QBs to showcase their talent, but Wentz checking all the rudimentary boxes would be really encouraging.
2. See Flashes From Young Players
This would normally take the No. 1 spot, but there’s nothing wrong with a second-place finish. Whereas preseason isn’t the time for starting QBs to take the spotlight, it presents a gorgeous opportunity for first- and second-year players and roster bubble players to stake their claim for a role on the team.
For the Commanders, we’ll be keeping a close eye on QB Sam Howell, defensive backs Percy Butler, Christian Holmes and Jeremy Reaves, running backs Brian Robinson, Jaret Patterson and Jonathan Williams, receivers Dax Milne, Kelvin Harmon, Marken Michel and tight ends Armani Rogers and Curtis Hodges.
If these players (among several others, obviously) show flashes during the preseason, we’d feel a lot better about the team’s depth and future.
1. No Major Injuries
As great as it would be to see Wentz look comfortable in Scott Turner’s offense and Washington’s younger players dominate the preseason competition, nothing is more important than coming out the other side relatively healthy.
Look, it’s football. Injuries are inevitable. Commanders fans should almost be expecting one or two (maybe three) players to get hobbled over the three games. If any player complains something’s bothering him, yank him immediately.
Control what you can control, right? Injuries are largely a luck of the draw and Washington’s luck simply has to improve after last season. This roster has top-15 potential, but that’ll change quickly if a few key players go down.
Regardless of result, quarterback performance or young players emerging, getting through preseason with a clean bill of health is the single most important thing that’ll make Commanders preseason a success. Cross your fingers.